KELOWNA, B.C. – Aquassure Accessible Baths made it to the ‘Dragons’ Den’ looking for cash, but ultimately just wanted exposure for their Okanagan company.
“You can be giving away gold bars, but if no one knows you exist, no one is going to show up and knock at the doors,” says Aquassure CEO Matthew Longman.
Longman and his wife Shari McDowell asked the investors panel from the CBC program for $320,000 in exchange for 30 per cent of the company.
Aquassure manufactures wheelchair and lift-accessible tubs with sliding doors.
Longman, a massage therapist by trade, found his clients “who had falls, hip replacements and surgery” would benefit from a sliding door accessible tub that wasn’t walk-in.
After enduring the cost of research and development, an attempted hostile take-over, and accumulating debt, the couple have invested $1 million in the company since 2001, a shocker for the investment panel and why the Dragon’s walked away from making a deal.
“We were disappointed about not getting investment,” says Longman. “Our primary goal was to get marketing dollars.”
But since the episode was shot almost a year ago, airing Feb 10, licensing negotiations with the largest manufacturer of walk-in tubs in North America continue, Longman says.
“They are going to be producing the Aquassure slide-in tubs that we designed as well as adapting our sliding door patent for their walk in tubs,” he says. “We don’t have a final licensing agreement as we are still working out the royalty arrangements but we have a letter of intent and Matt just returned from engineering discussions in Tennessee two weeks ago.”
“We were also pretty unimpressed with the focus on the $1 million original investment. This is not an unusual amount to commercialize a new plumbing technology.”
The tubs sell for $9,000 – $14,000 per unit.