Richmond fitness firm eyes Dragons' Den deal

The people behind a Richmond firm that specializes in their own line of portable fitness equipment are hoping they've got something that will fire up the multimillionaires on the CBC entrepreneur show Dragons' Den.

Darren Shane, director of Astone Fitness, will appear in an upcoming episode of the popular TV show, when the entire company will be up for grabs to the show's five business tycoons—including Richmond-based Boston Pizza co-founder Jim Treliving.

On the show, entrepreneurs from across Canada bring their gadgets, toys, games, tools or business ideas in the hope of wooing the dragons and securing their cash and contacts in exchange for a percentage of their business.

Shane, who owns the business along with Ben Silverman and Joel Grenz, wouldn't divulge how much money he asked for and whether he landed a deal, noting that he signed a confidentiality agreement that bars him from sharing that information.

So locals will need to tune into the show on its new Sunday 8 p.m. timeslot, with Astone Fitness slated to be part of the Jan. 13, 2013 episode.

It was in March of last year, when CBC was making its cross-Canada tour, that Astone's owners first made their pitch to the show's producers. Precisely two weeks later, they were invited to Toronto, and they eventually did a face-to-face with the dragons last May.

Although they knew they would appear in an episode this season, it wasn't until a few days ago that they were informed precisely when they'd appear.

Astone Fitness markets its own line of portable fitness products, and has established an international distribution network, with annual revenues topping $1 million.

But the company, founded by Silverman nine years ago and initially operated out of a garage, is seeking to expand abroad, and is targetting Europe.

Since the launch of its latest product, the Human Trainer suspension gym, things have been going like gangbusters, he said.

Aside from supplying the gear, which centres around inelastic straps and the use of one's own body weight for resistance, the firm is able to provide training to fitness specialists who work in fitness facilities around the globe.

Shane said the company's goal is to expand itself into a $5 to $10 million business.

Any money from a Dragons' Den deal would provide much-needed working capital for continued growth.

Shane said he walked out in front of the cameras confident of the company, its products and his pitch.

Astone is anything but a fitness reseller.

It owns the trademark and patents to all of its products, and created its own brands, packaging, arranged for its own photo shoots and videos, and sourced its manufacturers and distributors.

Two other Richmond businesses have appeared on Dragons' Den recently: Jet Pet resorts made a deal on the show in November as did Richmond inventor Marco Longley the following month for his secondary handle for long shaft tools.

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