Young London entrepreneur braves the Dragon’s Den
London Community News
By Chet Greason/For London Community News
Jared Vaughan started his first business when he was 11 years old. “It was a pet waste management company," he explained. "I picked up dog waste.”
“I learned at an early age I liked buying things ... I wanted to support my expensive lifestyle,” he added with a laugh.
Now 15 and decidedly out of the dog waste business, Vaughan’s newest project has been pitching an idea to the financiers on CBC’s Dragon Den, a television show that features business propositions made to a panel of wealthy investors. The ideas are either funded, or crash and burn.
“I’m a big fan of the show,” said the motivated young Londoner, adding that having to wait a long time for his segment to be filmed last April in Toronto wrecked havoc on his nerves. “I was physically shaking,” he admitted. “But once I got in front of them, I realized they’re just regular people.”
As the contestants enter the Den, they descend a metal staircase. Vaughan says he tripped down the last two steps, landing awkwardly. The producers sympathized with him, and let him re-shoot his entrance. “Here we go again,” quipped Kevin O’Leary, the Den’s rude resident miser.
Although Vaughan is under strict rules not to reveal whether the Dragons took to his pitch or not, he did say that O’Leary’s jab was the nastiest thing said to him that day.
“They’ve been mean to kids in the past,” Vaughan noted. “I was worried they might rip me apart, but they were actually very nice.”
Vaughan’s pitch involved revamping the Dragons’ website to include better access to products and ideas that have been pitched in the past. It was Vaughan’s hope the idea might give him the chance to work closely with Dragon Arlene Dickinson, whose company operates www.shopdragonsden.com.
“I look at her as an idol,” Vaughan said, explaining it’s not just her savvy business acumen he respects, but her humanitarian work as well. “She’s what I want to be when I get older. She’s inspirational to me.”
Some of Vaughan’s past ventures, besides the dog waste business, included his opening of The Sunglass Shack at the Gibraltar Weekend Market. Vaughan researched, financed, and operated the business until the age of 14, when he sold it.
Now he’s taking full advantage of the hype surrounding his Dragon’s Den appearance, using it to fuel a motivational speaking gig, appearing in front of high school and college crowds to speak about his experience. This latest venture, found at www.jaredvaughaninspire.com, has already resulted in Vaughan conducting 10 public speaking engagements, and he has a further 30 gigs booked.
Vaughan said he hopes to attend the Richard Ivey School of Business once he’s graduated high school, although, given his already impressive resume, he could probably teach a class or two himself.
Jared Vaughan’s appearance on Dragon’s Den airs Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. on CBC.