By Nicole Williams
The Industrial Design program at Humber College has a reputation for producing successful students, with its most recent success featured on the CBC show Dragon’s Den.
Jackson Wyatt, 25, a student in the program, was on the television show February 4 with his brother Morgan, 29, a graduate from McMaster University’s Chemical Biology PhD program.
Together, they pitched their product, The Greenlid.
“It was such a surreal experience,” said Wyatt. “It’s one of my favourite shows, and to actually be there in front of the cameras was so nerve-wracking.”
The Greenlid is an entirely compostable food waste bin. Frustrated with the unpleasant task of dealing with leaking and smelly bags that often accompany the green bin, the Wyatt brothers decided there must be another way.
The brothers were faced with finding the appropriate material that would be durable enough to handle solid and liquid food waste, but also be completely biodegradable.
After much trial and error, they finally landed on molded pulp fiber, the same materials egg cartons are made out of.
“Pulp fiber is a great resource because it’s not only the recyclable material we want, but we can make any shape out of it. It’s incredibly flexible,” said Jackson.
The whole process took about eight months until the brothers settled on something that was both efficient and cost effective he said.
They had met with investors prior to going on the Den, but family and friends insisted they give the show a shot.
“There’s just so much added benefit to going on Dragon’s Den. Even if we didn’t get an investment, the exposure alone was enough to try,” said Jackson.
The brothers managed to make a deal with both David Chilton and Arlene Dickinson.
“I think they were impressed with the environmental aspect of the product, but also how simple it was. People don’t realize just how gross dealing with the green bin is,” said Jackson.
The pair offered $85,000 for 20 per cent of the company.
Catherine Chong, one of Jackson’s instructors at the Industrial Design school at Humber, said Jackson’s product is a good example of many program success stories.
“The Industrial Design program is difficult, but pretty comprehensive. We help students by teaching them to communicate through drawing, investigate materials, source those materials, and then ultimately develop them into a product,” said Chong.
Humber’s program is known to be more hands-on than its competitors at Carleton University and OCAD.
“It’s a very practical program,” said Chong. “We focus on teaching you how to apply valuable skills.
Sandro Zaccolo, another one of Jackson’s instructors, said the Industrial Design program strikes a good balance between design and theory.
“We talked about intellectual property patents and offshore manufacturing,” said Zaccolo.
Entrepreneurship and industrial design are becoming increasingly linked, according to program educators, and it’s important to the business fundamentals that are integral to launching a product.
What the Wyatt brothers lacked in entrepreneurial know-how, they’ve now gained in Dragon experience.
“Arlene has so many contacts, and David is so hands-on. I feel like our business has just accelerated 10 times as fast as it would have if we had just done it on our own,” said Jackson.
The Greenlid is already available at Home Hardware, with plans to expand to other locations in the future.