Nanaimo inventor Jen Gibb’s pitch for her garden tool design has earned her a date with the dragons on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Gibb will be featured on the program Feb. 7. Photo: courtesy CBC Dragons’ Den

Nanaimo garden tool maker hopes to cultivate investment on Dragons’ Den

Jen Gibb turned car accident injury into opportunity to take a fresh approach to garden tool design

A Nanaimo woman with a tough row to hoe has a date with the dragons.

Jen Gibb, who moved to Nanaimo in 2002 and owns yard maintenance company Beyond the Fence, was notified Monday, Jan. 7, she will appear on an upcoming episode of CBC’s Dragons’ Den when Gibb will make her pitch for investment in the Eazy Way garden multi tool.

Necessity was the mother of this tool’s invention. The Eazy Way multi tool has a telescoping handle that can accept multiple tool heads on either end of the handle, a design born out of a need to have a light, handy tool that could save Gibb time and compensate for decreased mobility she suffered from a vehicle accident.

“I got in a car accident and when I got back to work I noticed that my mobility wasn’t quite the same, so I was flipping my tool over so I didn’t have to pick up another one,” Gibb said. “Also in the maintenance business it’s all about timing, so if you’re going back and forth to the truck or picking up tools and so forth, it just … made my job more efficient and I decided to make a prototype.”

Gibb created several prototypes, progressively refining the design with help and advice from friends along the way.

“We had some chats and she asked me what I thought of the product and if it was something we could retail through our store,” said Jack Pagani, owner of Nanaimo Home Hardware. “Every time she did a little bit of an improvement with marketing or something, she’d come in and have a chat … When I saw it, right away I thought it was going to be a winner … I think she’s going to go somewhere with it and I sure hope the dragons agree with that.”

After about 18 months Gibb had a design she was happy with, which was also about the time friends suggested she audition for Dragons’ Den.

“I ended up going to Vancouver, doing the audition,” she said. “It felt really good. They called me within 10 days or something and said, ‘Congratulations. You’re heading to Toronto and then by April 27 I was in Toronto and filming and and then you just kind of hang on and wait and see what happens.”

The tool is designed to pack up with all its accessories in a compact package for easy transport in, say, a backpack, which is handy for people who perhaps live in a condominium or apartment, but maintain a plot in a community garden. Tool heads can be mounted on either end of the handle simultaneously, giving the user combinations of two tool heads, such as a rake and a hoe.

“In urban communities people are riding their bikes or taking the SkyTrain or whatnot, so you can put everything into a backpack and just hold your pole,” she said.

The multiple tool head design also allows the owner to purchase replacement tool heads when they break instead of discarding a entire hoe, or shovel, as with conventional designs.

Gibb’s pitch will be aired on the Feb. 7 episode of Dragons’ Den.

For broadcast times and other information, visit www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/.

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