Dragon’s Den, a hit reality TV program where entrepreneurs pitch innovative business ideas to a panel of wealthy venture capitalists, has been helping Canadians grow their startup businesses since 2006. With either the help and capital backing of the Dragons or simply the exposure the program brings, many Canadian startups have achieved massive success after being featured on Dragon’s Den.
During 2018’s season 13 of Dragon’s Den, Trung Pham, a Toronto entrepreneur pitched his modern motorized window shade technology. His product, AXIS Gear, provides a reliable and affordable alternative solution to a market currently saturated with costly motorized window shades. After much back and forth, and some tough questions from the Dragons, does Trung accept the offer?
But first… What is AXIS Gear?
AXIS Gear is a Smart Home device that can be installed onto existing window shades allowing its user to operate and motorize them. At $249 per unit, this product is a more affordable, low-cost option for consumers, who may normally pay upwards of $1000 per window to motorize their shades.
Gear not only offers a sleek, modern design with innovative features, It also assists in making your home more secure and comfortable by freeing you from any inconvenience of manually adjusting your window shades.
With the addition of this smart home device, you can easily adjust your window shades from your mobile phone, or set up pre-determined schedules which correspond to your sunrise and sunset. Gear comes with a 1-year warranty, free technical support, and free shipping the United States.
Why would the Dragons love it?
The same reason AXIS’s customers do.
Installing Gear onto your existing windows shades is extremely easy and can be done by yourself without any professional help. The process usually takes just a few minutes. Simply detach Gear’s back-plate, fit your blind’s connected beaded chain loop into Gear’s sprocket, re-attach its backplate and fit into its specially designed mounting bracket. Plugin, power on, and pair to operate – it’s that easy.
Control your newly motorized window shade from your phone or via your SmartThings hub with voice control. You can even use Gear up close with its intuitive on-device touch-strip sensor controls. Simply tap the position you’d like your blinds open to and feel secure as the technology gets to work.
What is the bigger vision with AXIS?
With everything in your home becoming smarter, your window shades should be automated too. AXIS Gear automates the opening and closing of your window shades, and its Smart Home automation feature brings more convenience, comfort, and safety to you and your family.
Gear already integrates with the other smart devices in your home such as the Samsung SmartThings hub, and an Amazon Echo+ with Alexa capability. Easily connect Gear to these devices with a few clicks of a button.
What did the Dragons think?
The judges agreed on the bright future of AXIS and their flagship product, Gear.
Lane Merrifield was impressed with the fact that the company is planning to target commercial enterprise in the near future. Manjit Minhas, Jim Treliving and Vincenzo Guzzo appreciated the idea but did not make an offer.
Merrifield was impressed with the company’s growth plan and stated, “Commercial opportunity and building a recurring revenue model are the things that are in my wheelhouse”. He noted the product’s integrity and good future prospects, as home automation technology gains in popularity.
Arlene Dickinson, a general partner of District Ventures Capital, made an initial offer of $400,000 for 3%, offering to invest her district VC fund in the company. She stated they have invested in a number of tech companies previously, with a wealth of digital and marketing expertise which may be helpful to Trung in the growth of his business.
Michele Romanow, the co-founder of Clearbanc, stated she liked the unique idea of a retrofit blind solution and made an offer of $400,000 for 3.5%. She also asked Lane Merrifield to be part of the deal.
He agreed to go in on the deal with Michele.
Congratulations on obtaining funding from Dragon's Den! I've been a backer for 2+ years and glad to see your plans of expanding. I would suggest improving one thing for future product release: change gear part from plastic to metal as it tends to wear down (or provide way to order new plastic gears). Otherwise, I really like this product and one of the few things I backed in its early days that truly delivered on its vision!