Tessa Medlock pitches Pearl Bath Bombs to the Dragons on CBC's Dragons' Den

Tessa Medlock of Pearl Bath Bombs. Photo: CBC

More than a decade in, Dragons’ Den continues to inspire and amuse Canadian TV audiences. But the CBC’s hit show isn’t just meant to be entertaining. It’s a televised school for entrepreneurs. For each episode of Season 11 (which airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET), we’ll be talking to one of the Dragons to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their decision-making process and hear what they hope viewers learned. And we’ll be examining a pitch for smart strategies and useful tips that entrepreneurs can use to make their own businesses better. Episode 18 featured a bath product innovator who turned social media savvy into a multi-million dollar market.

Pearl Bath Bombs

Entrepreneur: Tessa Medlock | From: Oakville, Ont. | Ask: $150,000 for 10%

Manufactures and retails bath products

Tessa Medlock was the last of the scores of entrepreneurs seeking investment to step in front of the Dragons during the filming of this season of Dragons’ Den. Her product: bath bombs containing fashion rings.

After sitting through hundreds of pitches over multiple days of filming, Michele Romanow wasn’t going to be easy to impress. “I thought, ‘This is silly,’” she said in an exclusive interview before the segment aired. “And it is not a silly business, I can tell you that.” Contributing to the revision of her perspective: Pearl Bath Bombs’ incredible numbers. In the five-and-a-half months before entering the Den, the company had revenues of $1.7 million, netting $800,000 of that in profit.

That sparked a bidding war among the Dragons. Joe Mimran and Jim Treliving partnered to meet Medlock’s ask, while Manjit Minhas offered the $150,000 for a 8% equity stake. But it was Romanow who won the deal, matching Minhas’ bid and adding access to her retail relationships.

Romanow readily admits to being surprised at the scale Medlock had achieved. She says the deal closed shortly after filming, and revenue has since doubled. “This is why you have to stay open to unique ideas,” Romanow observes.“[Medlock is] on a tear. She might be one of the best deals in my portfolio.”

Romanow attributes Pearl’s success to “lot of pieces of magic,” starting with the all-natural, handmade soap spheres themselves. Then there’s the rings. The ones concealed inside the bath bombs are plated with rose gold, gold or silver. Medlock buys them by the thousand, allowing her to charge $14.99 to $16.99 while offering jewelry pieces that might ordinarily retail for double that amount. “I’ve worn some of her rings, they look great,” says Romanow.

Medlock has also gamified the bathing experience—a code inside the product enters the buyer into a competition to win a $5,000 ring. “[It’s] future retention because you get their name, and you have that continual association since you’re doing the raffle for the next ring,” Wekerle observed in the Den. It’s a “Kinder Surprise for housewives,” Romanow jokes post-filming. “You add in this element of chance and game as a part of it.”

Those impressive sales numbers were racked up on Pearl’s website, thanks to Medlock’s impressive command of online marketing. “[Her] videos are fun, and they’re viral,” says Romanow. “They truly have— of all the companies I’ve invested in—the best social media audience I’ve ever seen.” Pearl has over half a million likes on Facebook, 58,000 Instagram followers, and per Romanow, 16 million-plus video views. Those fans opened up new opportunities for the company. “We’ve had requests [from] customers to expand into candles, soap, [and] bath scrubs, sticking with the bath theme,” Medlock said in the Den. Pearl has since launched the first two of those.

As Minhas pointed out on the show, every mall has a stall that sells sweet-smelling bath products. Medlock’s advantage isn’t necessarily the product—it’s her audience. “There’s way more she can do because of her following on social media now,” says Romanow. “She can start testing other products really easily—anything that serves this demographic of women. That’s the underlying asset here.”

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