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Audition Tour 2013: Windsor

It’s that special time of year again, folks. Dragons’ Den auditions are on now, and they’re happening all over the country. Our first report from the road comes from Dragons’ Den producer Charlie Smith. You can check out more of Charlie’s on the road observations on his Twitter.

Windsor. 6:30 am. Two and a half hours until audition time – when we wade through Windsor’s best and brightest for CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Exiting my comfy hotel bed, I grab my gym bag and make my way through Caesar’s Hotel & Casino to find a treadmill. Cardio must be done.

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The night before I stayed in my room, loaded up some “Fringe” on Netflix and put a couple of bullets in a large pizza. Now, waking up from my ten-hour food coma, I happily use my pizza shame to motivate me past the slot machines and right into the health club. The place is packed. I like to people watch, so right away I notice an older guy with a forearm tattoo doing preacher curls.

Having grown up in an Armed Forces family, I recognize that the skull and snake combo is most likely military. He looks like a retired GI Joe cranking out 60 pound curls. Five reps in and three dudes with no shirts, no shoes, and a funky “meat meets vodka” smell walk in and begin throwing weights around without care. GI Joe gives a look like he’s ready to take down the enemy, and I stand back, fully prepared for a real life YouTube moment.

But then, Mr. Joe, in his nicest grandfatherly voice, explains to the dudes that they’re doing the exercise wrong and gives them a demo! In return, the dudes thank Mr. Joe and take his advice! No one even mentions the smell of meat or vodka, and I walk away being reminded that book covers never give the whole story.

In many ways, the book cover to the Windsor/Essex region also fails to provide the entire narrative. First hit by the recession, and with the lowest unemployment rate in our country, it’s easy to paint the region as “knocked down”.

But, driving up to the local Chamber of Commerce for the first audition of the season, I quickly see that this is a city that knows how to pick itself right back up.

A packed waiting room welcomes our group to audition day – a room so full of excitement I had to grab a pic with my Blackberry Playbook.

Pitch after pitch, there is this amazing energy and enthusiasm in the room. Companies from all walks of life, people that have been laid off, families that have turned ideas into action – all show up with fire in their eyes, determined to make a comeback story for themselves and their hometown. Everyone brings it.

I can’t say for sure if any of the pitchers will find themselves walking into the Den this spring, but I do know that one way or another, Windsor/Essex is on its way to writing a whole new story, and I can’t wait to read it.



A Few Minutes With…Shark Tank’s Daymond John & Kevin O’Leary

Jim Halterman of the Futon Critic sits down with Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary to chat about Shark Tank. Find out how the judges react to emotional stories behind the pitches and why the show is such a hit.

Watch the video at The Futon Critic