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From the Caddle Ranch to Dragon Den

http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/6898983-from-the-caddle-ranch-to-dragon-s-den/

ST. CATHARINES — Local entrepreneurs will be in the national spotlight this month when they make their pitch in front of a room full of dragons.

Earlier this year Ransom Hawley and Mick Higgins of Caddle, a web and smartphone app-based digital coupon company, headed to CBC Television studios to make their pitch on the popular reality television show Dragon’s Den. The episode was filmed in May and will make its small-screen debut on Oct. 12. Hawley said they were encouraged to go on the show by some friends who had previously been featured.

“It’s a great way to grow awareness for our brand and it costs us nothing,” he said, adding it was also an opportunity to get their company in front of a group of savvy investors — the dragons.

The value attached to having their app featured on CBC during primetime is huge, he said and they’re hoping to see that exposure translate into more users and engagement.

Hawley and Higgins can’t discuss the outcome before the episode airs, but they’re hoping to relive the experience amongst family, friends and the community with a viewing party at Cat’s Caboose.

When Caddle was started nine months, ago, Hawley and Higgins could have chosen anywhere as the company’s home base. Pitching major clients Mars, General Mills, Henkel, Source for Sports and the like might have been easier had they chosen to work out of Toronto or a tech-minded community like Waterloo, but Hawley said downtown St. Catharines was the right choice for them.

“It’s outside the mould… but there hasn’t been any barriers from us being in St. Catharines,” he said. “There’s no shortage of partners here to work with and it’s not stopped us from hiring good talent.”

Instead, both agree they’ve been able to make use of the great resources in the city, like Innovate Niagara and their app was developed by Symetric Productions Inc., located in an office just down the road from them on King Street. 

Another reason they were drawn to Niagara? It made their wives happy. Both named Whitney, they were neighbours growing up and wanted to be back in their hometown.

Hawley admits they were also enticed by the lower cost of doing business in St. Catharines compared to other cities, like Toronto. 
“We’re entirely self-funded, sinking $200,000 of our own money into this business,” said Hawley of he and Higgins. “We’re mindful, and a little scrappy, about we spend our money.”

In addition to several national partners, Caddle recently launched its local program bringing in Niagara bringing 12 local partners on board, like Avondale U Need a Pita and Cat’s Caboose — to name a few.

“Our biggest task locally is getting people on board,” said Higgins, adding that once they explain the concept, people are more likely to engage. The name Caddle refers to the group of users and Higgins said as a group, they’re more powerful together.

“Users can engage on their time and they’re rewarded on their time,” he said.

The app-based tool, available on iOS and android, allows companies to target, educate, and engage consumers, while deriving insights, and encouraging purchase. In addition to digital coupons, there is an ad and questionnaire feature where users can watch videos and then get cash back for feedback and purchases.

As for their Dragon’s Den pitch, the Caddle crew wasn’t afraid to show their fun side. Without revealing too much, the pitch involves Hawley’s wife sitting on a toilet and his brother-in-law wearing a unitard riding a stationary bike.

To see the pitch on a big screen with a crowd, swing by the viewing party at Cat’s Caboose on Oct. 12. The fun starts at 8 p.m.

“We’re inviting everyone out to come watch with us,” said Hawley.

For more information on Caddle, visit Caddle.ca.