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The Record - Travel bag earns dragons' approval

September 21st, 2012:

Written By: Joseph Ho, Record Staff

Photos: CBC Television


KITCHENER — Two Kitchener brothers who believe they have the answer to messy duffel bags have won the backing of the dragons.

Sean and Lee Renshaw pitched their Rise & Hang travel bag, a patented combination of a duffel bag attached to a collapsible shelf that can hang in any closet, to the dragons on the CBC Television show Dragons’ Den.

Lee, 28, a Humber College graduate, came up with the idea after staying nights away from home. The bags he packed were filled with clean and dirty clothes alike.

“I looked like I was living out of a hamper while I was in school,” he said.

After receiving an offer from Kevin O’Leary and Jim Treliving to license their product, the brothers accepted a partnership with Arlene Dickinson and David Chilton on Wednesday night’s season premiere of Dragons’ Den.

Both offers were $100,000 for half the company, but with Dickinson and Chilton, the author of The Wealthy Barber who lives just outside Waterloo, their bags would be sold on The Shopping Channel while keeping licensing options open.

Although the scenes weren’t aired during the episode, careful thought and consultation with investors took place before the pair accepted the deal.

O’Leary’s offer was conditional on finding a licensing agreement. He proposed flying the brothers to New York to pitch their product to luggage companies.

But Lee, who now lives in Schomberg, Ont., said the brothers wanted Dickinson’s marketing experience even before they made their pitch. By accepting the offer from Dickinson and Chilton, the brothers felt they were getting business partners who could help them grow their company, said Sean, 27, a Conestoga College graduate.

“We’re not in it for the money,” he said. “We’re in it to build a business, build a brand and be able to offer people the best travel gear.”

Sean, who now lives in Barrie, said the brothers haven’t signed a contract with Dickinson and Chilton yet but will appear on The Shopping Channel to demonstrate their product.

The duo dressed only in their underwear during their appearance before the Dragons. Sean proceeded to put on wrinkly clothes, taken out of a normal duffel bag. Lee’s outfit appeared ironed, after being stored in the Rise & Hang bag.

“We hashed that idea around and we said, let’s go all out,” Sean said. “Let’s go insane funky underwear, something that’s really tight, that’s really going to get people’s attention.”

“It was very nerve-racking, especially leading up to it,” Lee said. “We’re so passionate about it that once we got onto the show, everything just started falling into place.

“We were looking back at it and we were amazed at how well we did considering how nervous we were,” he said.