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“After about 20 Dragon’s Den comments, I decided to figure out … how to actually get onto Dragon’s Den.” —Toby Maurice, co-founder of Wipebook

Grads pitch successful learning tool to potential investors

Photo: Courtesy of Toby Maurice

A pair of recent University of Ottawa engineering grads are proof that the entrepreneurial flame is burning bright on campus.

Toby Maurice and Frank Bouchard, co-founders of Wipebook, are set to appear on the CBC’s Dragon’s Den on April 1.

The pair met in an entrepreneurship class while both completing  master’s degrees in engineering, and developed the Wipebook as part of a project.

Maurice describes the finished product as “a marriage between a white board and a notebook, a little simple tool for brainstorming and taking notes.”

It’s “a notebook for life,” he said, noting that its environmental consciousness is a major reason for its success—and a must for any modern entrepreneur.

“You should find an angle, or a strategy to your business model so you do employ some sort of corporate sustainability,” he said.

It was overwhelmingly popular on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, where it earned $420,000 in its first round in 2013 and another $110,000 in late 2014. All the support led them to pursue the idea further.

Their involvement in Dragon’s Den arose as the co-founders were completing routine processes of refining their business model.

“We had all these elements on our business model canvas, and we just went out and tried to basically prove those elements wrong,” said Maurice.

As they presented their invention to members of their target audience, they were continuously encouraged to show off their product on the show, now in its ninth season.

“After about 20 Dragon’s Den comments, I decided to figure out the process of how to actually get onto Dragon’s Den,” said Maurice. t

“It was a cool experience, a fun experience, crazy experience though,” he said, though he didn’t want to give away details from the episode.

“It’s scary in that you know when you’re going in you’re going to get a pretty good whipping from each of the dragons, because you’re trying to validate your entrepreneurial skills and there’s an entertainment factor to it too.”

He recommended it to anyone interested in building their business, but pointed out that entrepreneurship is far from a one-size-fits-all concept.

“It’s a very rewarding thing too. You’re building something that’s your own. And it’s a roller coaster—one day could be so positive, and another day you just want to go home and bury your head in a pillow,” said Maurice.

“You have to have the mindset that you could fail. But you have to be ready to accept failure. If you have that itch, do it, but be prepared.”

Catch the Wipebook co-founders on Dragon’s Den on April 1 at 8 p.m. on CBC.