In a matter of days Bill and Victoria Betournay, and business partner Jeff Greco, will no longer need to keep an important business secret to themselves.
For months, the Betournays of Richards Landing and Greco of Sault Ste Marie have kept tight-lipped regarding the result of their appearance on Dragon's Den.
Betournay is inviting his friends, family, neighbours and community to catch the Oct. 25 episode of Dragon's Den on CBC television at 8 p.m. Tune in to find out what the Dragons had to say, and whether or not Betournay walked away.
"It is safe to say the episode will be interesting," Bill Betournay said with a chuckle.
Betournay will watch the episode at Wacky Wings' Great Northern Road location starting at 7 p.m. thanks to the Innovation Centre, who is hosting the party.
"It's been hard to keep it a secret," he said. "Everybody has been asking us about it."
The local entrepreneurs were not permitted to share the outcome of the show unless it directly affected the business, such as with a banker.
Betournay, a self-described tinkerer and the brain behind Shop STUFFF and Guns and Tool STUFFF, and Greco, were first invited for an audition and a business pitch to the show's two producers.
"Being a fan of Dragon's Den, it's a pretty good show and could give us that exposure if we were chosen," he said.
One evening in late March, Betournay located the Dragon's Den website and the opportunity to submit the business online to the show for an audition.
"We had about 36 hours to get ready," he said adding they prepared their speeches in the car en route to Toronto. "It was very stressful but we got through it."
Following that, Betournay and Greco were invited back to Toronto for the filming of the episode where the entrepreneurs were to pitch their product to a panel of six dragons.
"The approach to the Dragon's Den is just how you see it on tv," he said. "Everything started happening so fast, questions were thrown at us we didn't have time to get stressed. It was a pretty cool experience."
They started their pitch with a demonstration of how well the product worked by loosening a couple of bolts that were seized up.
The period from the audition to filming occurred within a few weeks.
Four years ago, Betournay came across the lubricant by accident. That first year brought hours of research and development, patent application and process with the first sales of STUFFF coming in 2015.
"I was still playing with the chemistry and all," he said. "It's only been three years of retail products."
His background is not in chemistry but a decision support analyst with the North East Local Health Integration Network.
For the past three years Betournay has been marketing his product throughout the North East region.
208 Litres will produce 22 cases of 24 cans, and takes about six hours to manufacture.
"I think we've done a real good job getting our product out onto the market but we've come to this plateau and done as much as we could with the next step being the big box retailers," he said. "We've approached a few and have been turned down, pushed aside and have gotten nowhere basically."
STUFFF is new and considered a no-name brand, and to build that product they were looking for an avenue to get their name out into the public.
Betournay never thought four years ago he would be where he is today.
"The first couple years was more curiosity than anything else, then putting it together, researching it and see if there was a viable product there to start with," he said adding concerns over recycling and the environment which motivated him to keep going. "I still cannot believe there was no safe, non-toxic solutions on the market. I'm still in shock that we stumbled across this solution."
A list of outlets is on their website at www.stufff.ca.
Recently Betournay accepted a second business award.
In 2016 Betournay received an award from the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre - Innovation Company of the Year, and the end of September he accepted an award from the Northern Ontario Business Award - Innovation Award at its ceremony in North Bay.