By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Brodie Stanfield walked into the Dragons’ Den draped in a sheet. Alongside him, his father Michael told the panel of high-rolling investors that they were looking for $500,000 for 20 per cent of their company. In the end, they would come fairly close to nabbing that exact deal.
The product in question, and hidden beneath the sheet, is the ARAIG (As Real As It Gets) gaming suit, the creation of Oshawa start-up IFTech. When Brodie tossed off the sheet, there were awed reactions from those on the panel.
“It was a fun experience, that’s for sure,” Brodie tells The Oshawa Express.
And while the show was broadcast nationwide, Brodie says the pair are starting to get used to the cameras after filming a National Geographic show in Pennsylvania and Singapore.
“It wasn’t that bad going and doing that. We were kind of ready for how we thought that would be,” he says.
After a brief demonstration on a big screen, the father-son pair explained that the suit had developed from nothing more than an idea in their basement at home, and had developed into a fully-functioning suit. The pair from Blackstock, Ont. have put approximately $550,000 into the suit, $150,000 from their own pocket, and the remaining coming from investors, government grants, and local partnerships, among them support from the Spark Centre, where ARAIG and the Stanfield’s company IFTech won the incubators Thrive Accelerator competition along with its Ignite Competition.
Many of the dragons were weary about the lack of units the pair had created, and the amount of money it would take to get things off the ground. After several backed out it was Manjit Minhas who stepped in. While known for her clout in the craft beer and wine industry, the dragon also has connections in the tech world, which will prove vital for IFTech moving forward.
“The process was great. We really didn’t know her full background and different extent that she or her company was capable of,” Brodie says. “All of these things that kind of aligned with what we needed, it was a nice fit.”
And what the company will need moving forward is manufacturing and distribution, which after the Minhas deal that saw them net $500,000 for 25 per cent of the company, is going to be priority one.
“We’re just hammering through the manufacturing process as best we can,” Brodie says. “So it’s one of those things where we’re just powering through what we can.”
That means finding the right places for the right type of manufacturing and uses. The ARAIG has possible uses aside from the gaming world, including training and simulations, and for that reasons some manufacturing may take place in North America while others may take place overseas.
Through it all, Brodie says it has been an exciting journey.
“I saw us going pretty far with it, but I didn’t really think about the key milestones and unique pieces that would come up,” he says. “It’s an experience I never really anticipated so to speak, so it’s been really nice.”
Brodie says they are currently hoping to launch the product in October. Pre-orders are available on the ARAIG website for approximately $800 US.