By Noella Ovid
A Ryerson graduate and his partner received $1 million in funding for their auto parts e-commerce company from Michele Romanow on CBC’s Dragons’ Den.
Best friends Charith Perera and Mubin Vaid started their self- funded business, TDot Performance, while Perera was a finance student at the Ted Rogers School of Management. In 2008, the duo went door-to-door selling LED strips imported from China to local retailers in Toronto.
“When I was in school, [I] just needed a way of making money,” said Perera. “[I] then realized there was a need for this because no one was doing it.”
Since then, their business has evolved into a national Canadian automotive retailer through their website, which sells car performance parts and accessories. The company was named one of Canada’s fastest growing businesses in the Profit Hot 50 list in 2013 and has projected sales of $10 million for 2015.
TDot Performance has warehouses all over Canada that ship directly to the consumer, avoiding extra shipping costs. “The fact that you don’t take inventory is super attractive. That is what kills all retail businesses,” Romanow said on the show.
Before auditioning for Dragons’ Den, Perera entered various business competitions at Ryerson. “I thought I would be [nervous] but I felt very comfortable on set because it kind of brought back memories of when we were in business-plan competitions at Ryerson,” he said.
Their mobile friendly website currently has more than 200,000 products available in the online shop, with no international customs duties or brokerage fees for their customers.
To demonstrate the frustration customers go through with U.S. companies on a daily basis, Perera and Vaid hosted a game show called “The Price is Not Right” within their pitch. They showed the hundreds of dollars their buyers could save in purchasing car parts by avoiding the exchange duties and some taxes of cross border shopping.
“That is the best business I have seen so far [on Dragon’s Den],” said Romanow on the show.
The team asked for $1 million in exchange for a 25 per cent equity stake in their company. “Without any capital, it’s really hard to grow. You only get to a certain size,” said Perera.
They accepted Romanow’s offer of 27 per cent, which they are still finalizing.
The entrepreneurs plan to keep doing what they’re doing to accelerate the growth of their business. They will be using the money for all aspects of the business, including more marketing and products, as well as improving their website.