December 7, 2021 by Speakers' Spotlight
Entrepreneur Erin Bury’s Startup Funded by “Dragon” Michele Romanow
Erin Bury along with her business partner Kevin Oulds entered the Dragons’ Den, making an appearance on season 16 of CBC’s hit show to request funding in support of their tech startup, Willful. The good news — they walked away with investment from none other than tech titan Michele Romanow.
Erin is a technology and marketing expert who was previously the managing editor at startup publication Betakit before joining Eighty-Eight, a creative communications agency, as the managing director. In 2017, she co-founded Willful with her partner Kevin, which is an online estate planning platform. In 2019, she joined Willful full-time as the CEO to drive their mission of making it easier for Canadians to prepare for and deal with death in a digital age.
In June, Erin and Kevin went face-to-face with the Dragons asking for a $500,000 investment for 5% equity. They walked away with a $500,000 investment from Michele giving her 9% equity, 7% as core equity and 2% as advisory shares.
In an article in Betakit, Michele said “Willful is solving a problem that none of us want to think about or deal with – until you have to. And then, at the worst possible moment of your life, you’re trying to find lawyers, go through a ton of paperwork, make expensive decisions and potentially fight with your family.”
Betakit shared that after the show, Willful connected with other investors who, along with Michele, brought the bridge financing round to a total of $750,000 CAD.
Erin and Kevin spoke with Betakit about the daunting prospect of preparing to enter the Den. It was a big risk, they said, because they couldn’t control the outcome, but felt it was worth it for the opportunity to receive more investment as well as market their product to a TV audience. They spent months preparing their speech — binge-watching past seasons of the show to prepare for whatever question the Dragons may throw at them, and practicing in front of surrogate dragons, their family and friends.
While they wanted to walk away with an investor, Erin said they also saw this as a marketing opportunity to reach Boomers and retirees, their secondary market at Willful.
“We thought Dragons’ Den would be a great way to reach those folks and to test out the power of TV,” Bury told Betakit. “When you’re a startup on a limited marketing budget, you don’t have the money to buy TV commercials and air time.”
Watch Erin’s nail-biting Dragon’s Den segment below:
Named one of Marketing Magazine’s “Top 30 Under 30”, Erin Bury shares her expertise in the ins-and-outs of entrepreneurship, how to harness the latest digital trends, and marketing in her dynamic and informative keynotes.
Michele Romanow is a serial entrepreneur who started six companies before her 35th birthday. A “Dragon” on CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den, Michele is the co-founder and president of Clearco, which has invested more than $2B into 4,600 companies making them the biggest ecommerce investor in the world.
Interested in learning more about Erin and/or Michele and what they can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].