By: Emma McPhee
What began as a dream come true for three UNB students quickly turned into the stuff of nightmares when an appearance on CBC’s Dragons’ Den became an encounter with real, live dragons.
Fourth-year chemical engineering students Greg Bailey, Garrett Nelson and Stephen Likely won the opportunity to make a pitch on the entrepreneurial show last year with their business plan for an industrial hand cleaner.
“We had our hands full, I’ll tell you that,” Bailey said. “We quickly had to change tactics. The minute I saw those beasts, I said to Garrett, ‘You run. See if you can distract them.’ Then Stephen and I tried to use our wit to confuse them.”
“It was the scariest thing I have ever done,” Nelson said. “The flames were the worst though. I thought for sure we’d be burnt to a crisp.”
Bailey is no stranger to fighting off belligerent creatures. After all, as UNBSU vice-president external during the strike, he received plenty of experience through dealing with UNB’s administration.
“I was wishing I had my megaphone. It makes me feel stronger,” he said.
However, things took a dangerous turn when he forgot one of the Dragons’ names.
“I was like ‘Oh shit,’ ” he said. “He was the most conceited Dragon, so he didn’t like that. But then I attacked him with pink spray paint, so that subdued him a bit.”
Eventually they were able to escape the dragons by spraying their hand cleaner in the creatures’ eyes to blind them and making a dash for the studio door. Although they didn’t strike a business deal, the experience wasn’t entirely fruitless.
“Like any good dragons, these ones had brought some of their treasure stash with them,” Likely said. “We made sure to grab some gold when the dragons were blinded.”
However, UNB claimed property rights for the treasure, and therefore took it away from the students. Still, they are looking on the bright side, and will be starting a new business venture.
“We’re currently looking into marketing it to the dragon control business as well,” Bailey said.
The dragons, Smaug O’Leary, Nobert Croxon, Drogon Chilton, Viserion Treliving and Rhaegal Dickinson, are thought to have come from a region in northern Quebec where there is known to be a considerable dragon population.
They rarely venture beyond their territory and it is unknown what brought them to Toronto and caused them to attack the students so viciously.
“We want to ensure that everyone knows this is a rare occurrence. You are quite safe from these creatures,” said UNB care of magical creatures professor, Dr. Harris Grid.
“My colleagues and I are working hard to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.”
Bailey said he feels lucky to be alive.
“It could have gone so much worse. We could have died,” he said. “But instead everyone got out safe and the university just took the money we won.”