Five years ago, Mark Shaver and Russ Lennon waded into the Dragon’s Den hoping to land a deal. After revealing their product “The SportScreen” on national television, the pair piqued the interest of four dragons and walked away as partners with none other than “The Wealthy Barber,” Waterloo’s David Chilton.
The SportScreen has since saved thousands of garage doors by giving eager hockey players a surface to withstand thousands of slapshots. It’s an industrial-level screening that can not only handle the blistering speed of a Zdeno Chara slapshot, but it also dampens the noise.
Chilton’s initial deal with The SportScreen started off as a royalty-based partnership which has since expired, but to this day, he still advises Shaver and Lennon with guidance on how to run the business. “I just spoke with Dave the other day,” Shaver said. “We’re still in touch. He’s not active in the business day-to-day, but as a friend, he’ll provide advice as needed and when needed.”
Their product saw a spike after their episode of Dragon’s Den aired in 2015, but The SportScreen has also grown by leaps and bounds within the past year. The product is now available in retailers like Pro Hockey Life, some boutique specialty hockey shops in the United States, and it will soon be available on Costco’s Canadian website.
Some of the greatest advertising the product gets is from hanging in garages in neighbourhoods. Especially with more families stuck at home as of late, it’s provided an opportunity for The SportScreen to expand their business even further.
“We have over 10,000 units out there now,” Shaver said. “It’s really like a banner in the street, so to speak. The awareness of the product is getting traction. It hasn’t hurt us in terms of being shuttered in and wanting to do things at home instead of in front of the TV.”
The SportScreen has since captured the attention of NHL hockey players as a training aide, and the players serve as some of the greatest advocates for the product. Players like Mitch Marner, Max Domi, Cam Atkinson, Anders Lee and Nicolas Hague have all purchased and use The SportScreen.
Hague is a Kitchener native and was promoted by the Las Vegas Golden Knights last October, who is a devout user of The SportScreen. He even has one installed in his basement. Hague boasted one of the hardest shots in the OHL as a member of the Mississauga Steelheads, and if this screen can stand up to a defenseman’s slapshot, it can stand up to anything.
“NHL players really love the product because it takes pucks,” Lennon said. “It’s really the only product that’s a commercial level that takes pucks. It’s quick up and down, easy in terms of rolling it up out of the way, it doesn’t affect the curb appeal of your home.”
In the future, they’re looking at integrating lighting and analytics features which could be built into The SportScreen, and the ability to tie those features into an app for real-time results. Down the road, players could use the screen to measure the speed and accuracy of their shot.
Now that Shaver and Lennon have captivated the hockey world, their company turned to the golf realm by developing a product called “The Driver Divider” which allows two riders to ride golf carts with a partition between them.
They were approached by Brad Duench of Westmount Golf and Country Club to see if there was a solution to allow two riders to ride a golf cart safely and responsibly. It wasn’t long before the company came up with a prototype for The Driver Divider, and it’s now available for sale on their website.
Local golf courses like Westmount and Whistle Bear Golf Club are outfitted with the product, and after being mentioned by TSN’s golf analyst Bob Weeks, The Driver Divider gained even more traction within the golf circles.
Shaver and Lennon developed products like The SportScreen and the Driver Divider because they’re passionate about hockey and golf at the grassroots level. When the duo hears from grassroots hockey players about how they enjoy the product, Shaver and Lennon take that as an affirmation they made the right choice to launch The SportScreen.
“They always start off their comments by saying: They love our product, or kids use it, it’s like a fridge in our house being used every day,” Lennon said. “That’s what’s kept us going with this product. We know there’s a need and a use for this product. People that get it, love it.”