Local business owner takes on Dragons’ Den in hopes of growing business

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VIU alumni and Real Estate Webmasters (REW) CEO Morgan Carey brought his business to CBC’s Dragons’ Den looking to increase its size and productivity.

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VIU alumni and Real Estate Webmasters (REW) CEO Morgan Carey brought his business to CBC’s Dragons’ Den looking to increase its size and productivity. Photo courtesy Real Estate Webmasters

REW is a company that helps real estate agents increase their online presence and in turn increase their business. They help by providing professional services in search engine optimization, ad buys, social media, and content development.

Carey launched the company 11 years ago after a successful start as a search engine consultant. As a search engine consultant, Carey said he built a brand around himself that made him what people wanted. He said working 16 hour days and being busy non-stop helped him realize he needed to specialise in a market.

Choosing real estate, he developed REW. Carey said he first started with marketing. He said “most vendors sucked” at the time and finding reliable graphic designers was hard. He also said the idea of the company is to take the marketing out of the realtor’s hands. “The only thing we can’t do is drive the clients to the houses.”

The company serves mostly US clients. Sutton Realty is the biggest brokerage they work with in Canada. REW charges in US dollars, making it easier to sell to the US. The way the country is spread out also makes it an easier market, but Carey said they “are looking at how to bridge the gap.”

Carey said the future of REW involves getting more space. He wants to fill the building he is in and train more people, but the problem with getting more office space in Nanaimo is that the town is “terrible to deal with when it comes to real estate development.”

The success of the company landed REW as a profit 500 company. Carey was encouraged to try out for Dragons’ Den, so he emailed them and got a response. He did an interview with them when they were in town and made it to the main show.

Carey said his pitch was different than what the show was built for. Most people go on the show with an idea, hoping to get help, but Carey was bringing in an already successful company.

Carey said, when on the show, he was told he was there because he “wanted to get on TV,” but he insists that was not the reason.
“I said ‘do you know how to take a company from 100 employees to 1000? Well neither do I.’”

Carey said the point of going on the show for him was to find someone who can help take the company from a million dollar company to a billion dollar company.

“I want this to be a billion dollar company in five years,” said Carey. “I need help there.”

Without the help of an investor to help expand the company, Carey said it will be difficult to get to where he wants to be. Having someone who knows how to build companies and has the contacts already can save some very costly mistakes.

About going on the show, Carey said he had a lot of the same questions that most people have.

“The big question was how real is this,” said Carey. “It’s quite real.”

He said when you go out to do your pitch there is no do-overs and no directions. They offer consulting and ask how you would pitch. They will give you advice and some steps to go through, but they don’t change your pitch and nothing is scripted.

“In five seconds, the pitch is out the window,” Carey said. “The Dragons can take it in any direction; you have to improvise.”

He said that filming is a lot longer than the episod­e—you can be filming for hours.

The episode airs on CBC November 19 at 8 pm. For more information about REW, visit their website or find them on Facebook.

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Gluten, ghouls, and all other evils

editorialThis Halloween, hundreds of girls and boys will knock on doors dressed as goblins, ghouls, and all things scary, politely asking their neighbours for candy. After an hour or two of soliciting for the sweet sake of sugar, the sleepy monsters are complacent, follow their parent’s home, excited for their hard-earned treats. Today’s parents have a more thorough job than they once did, though. They laugh about a time when the only thing to look for in Halloween candy was an already open wrapper. Mothers and fathers take out a pen and paper to make a check-list: gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, lactose-free… And after plucking out milk chocolate bars and anything with soy or a crusty nugget, the exhausted parents give their children the bag of candy back, resting assured that the only evil left is a massive amount of sugar.

During the summer, I was out for a stroll along the waterfront and I walked past a couple of girls having “the gluten talk.”

“What’s with the hate on gluten? I love the gluten! I’ll take all the gluten!”

“Well unless you have celiac disease you don’t really need to eat gluten-free, anyway.”

Since then, I’ve heard the gluten evil being questioned several times in conversation, mostly by people who think the gluten-free trend is the pretentious new “cool food” to be allergic to (are food allergies really becoming a trending form of hipness?).

And like any bandwagon, people like to criticize it. I’ve especially heard complaints about those who openly discuss their diet in a way that’s not entirely honest. Sure, a sensitivity isn’t the same as an allergy, but is the seriousness of a legitimate allergic reaction being threatened by those who claim allergy when they actually just have a sensitivity to the food?

At the risk of being pegged as a food-allergy phony, I’d like to unabashedly admit that if I go into a coffee shop and ask for a soy or almond milk mocha, I also ask for the whipped cream on top. And at another chance of being judged as a woe-is-me, my-life-is-tough, privileged young Millennial (yeah, yeah) I’d also like to say that it’s kind of annoying when I’m at a coffee shop with someone and I’m teased for ordering it, like I’m some sort of faux lactose-intolerant person that makes the legitimate ones look bad. With dairy, I can have small quantities. If I drink too much, my stomach starts sloshing around like a carton of milk in a grocery bag.

Although I partly think that people have started to claim allergy as a way to avoid feeling the need to explain their diet or food restrictions, saying that you’re allergic to gluten probably gets a lot less flack than saying you’re trying to cut carbs (“But why are you trying to avoid carbs? Are you trying to lose weight? Don’t you know that every size is beautiful?” etc.). It’s kind of like how I get out of petting people’s cats and their house by claiming allergy (“I’m sort of allergic to cats. No I don’t need an allergy pill. I mean, my nose just gets a little stuffy is all…”).

Abiding to these dietary restrictions doesn’t necessarily make your food choices healthier; alternative cooking and health can go hand-in-hand. Although at this point in my life, I don’t strictly adhere to a vegetarian diet, I do a lot of meatless cooking and I’ve been fortunate to have had people in my life who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc., and I’ve realized there are many misconceptions about the meat-less, vegan,gluten-free world. Just like there’s bad and good cooking in general, there’s also bad and good cooking in the veggie platform. One of my favourite compliments after I cook a meatless meal for a non-vegetarian is, “You mean there’s no meat in this?” Although, I think there’s a big misconception amongst the non-veggie crowd that vegetarians spend their time trying to mimic the taste and consistency of meat. The “fake meat” veggie products in the grocer probably make a killing off the packs of soy hotdogs and luncheon meat that new vegetarians eat before they learn how to cook for their diet. For me, the best part about axing a bunch of stuff from your diet, for whatever reason, is that it gives you the opportunity to work with a whole new set of ingredients that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Have you ever used coconut or almond flour instead of wheat flour? Sure, it’s gluten-free, but it’s also awesome. Have you ever baked with apple-sauce as a substitute for butter? Sure, it’s dairy-free, but it’s also delicious.

This Halloween, I hope you all indulge yourselves in the goodies you love, whether it be gluten-free candy bars with beer or soy hot chocolate with whipped cream, let it be your body and your choice of holiday food sensitivities!


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All Hallow’s Sleaze

editorialMassive generalization alert: Guys can’t help themselves. They love a slutty nurse, a slutty school teacher, a slutty elf, a slutty secretary, a slutty bride, and, given the opportunity, probably a slutty meter reader. Name a costume and someone has probably come up with a slutty version of it. Is this particularly disturbing turn in Halloween celebrations getting old? It doesn’t show any signs of going away—maybe it’s just me.

Please don’t get me wrong—this has nothing to do with the politics of slut-shaming. It’s a woman’s prerogative to do whatever she wants with her body, and I couldn’t feel any more strongly about this. What I find sad is that a lot of great ideas get passed by because they’re about as sexy as a mailbox, so The Sexy Nurse thing gets a disproportionate amount of play.

Granted, some popular costumes play slutty quite naturally, like Catholic schoolgirl (why would they make those uniform skirts so short, really?) and French maid (again with the skirts). Then there’s the slutty supernatural sub genre with the vampires, devils, and even werewolves that get the hotness treatment in popular culture. For the ladies anyway. Sadly, the male versions of the supernaturals usually lean towards the grotesque: think King Vampire in Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain or Tim Curry in Legend (hot bod but a face only a mother could love).

So there’s a giant gender inequity in The Sexification of Halloween. Where do we bring The Sexy for guys? There’s The Village People, the seminal disco-era quintet who brought us the sexy cop, construction worker, cowboy, soldier, and leatherman (and yes, the headdress-toting first nations band member who was sexy but politically incorrect). Then there’s the subtly sexy, understated options like Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (best executed as a group costume): six sultry young men in good suits sporting overcoats of smooth attitude. From there it’s a short leap to the less coiffed, but equally violent characters from The Walking Dead. Their appeal is less obviously sexual, more blood and dirt and angst-covered sexy in an “I just need to be cradled to your bosoms” sort of way. (I’m thinking of Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon here—don’t you just want to brush the hair out of his eyes then give him a bath?)

If not zombie hunters, the zombies themselves have emerged as an alternative to The Slutty Anything. Zombies are trendy and have been interpreted in a variety of ways. In 28 Days Later, the zombies are super-speedy in contrast to The Walking Dead’s slow shufflers. And we can’t forget the toe-tapping undead in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. All pretty hard to bring the sexy to (though Jackson tried).

Male or female, exercising the urge to leave yourself behind for an evening is Halloween’s main draw today. It’s a night for make believe, for the suspension of disbelief we used to practice so easily as children. But unlike the kids, it seems like when women want to throw off the shackles of the everyday—of being a student or a mom or working the window at the drive-thru—they want to do it in the sluttiest way possible. Slutty anything. Slutty gas station attendant, slutty nuclear physicist, or slutty groundskeeper—as long as you can flash your décolletage and underbutt cleavage for all the world to see.

What troubles me is that this has become our default position, that we’re so repressed and removed from our natural, sexual selves that we need to blow our collective loads on one single holiday. The more public the better. Halloween has become a night when the bars are guaranteed to be packed­—one of the biggest party nights of the year.

The unintended consequence (and source of smug self-satisfaction for the teetotallers) comes the day after. This is when we’re treated to spectacular executions of The Walk of Shame. Yes, New Year’s Day people-watching features revellers resplendent in formal wear stumbling by, but it’s hard to beat the day after Halloween when The Slutty Nurse crawls home in the cruel light of dawn, mascara down to her chin. That’s worth settling into a window seat at your local café for. (In fairness, there’s no shortage of guys marching by in tattered green shorts carrying Incredible Hulk masks, or other superhero paraphernalia, hairlines still smeared with leftover coloured face paint.)

So here we go. In the interest of avoiding these kinds of humiliations, I’m looking for the least slutty costume I can find. Cover me in fleece head to toe. A mask too, but not a sexy one like Catwoman. A Teletubby—that’s the ticket. At least I won’t freeze my sexy bits off tromping door-to-door around the neighbourhood. I’ve had a lot of fun flashing those sexy bits around bars in the past, but this year I’ll be saving them, warm at home for my favourite grownup trick or treater.


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Darkening of the light: All Hallow’s Eve

A holiday celebrating the dead by any other name…

Halloween has been celebrated in some form, and under many different names, for centuries. There isn’t a single theory about the genesis of Halloween that stands as absolute, but some carry more urban myth clout than others.

The theory that seems to get the most play in popular culture pins Halloween firmly on the Celts. Their Samhain (“end of summer”) festival celebrated the harvest with food and drink. Harvest celebrations do tend to focus on food and drink though, so without a strong connection to spiritual elements, it’s hard to lay Halloween at the feet of Celtic tradition.

Looking for a spiritual basis in an end of season celebration points us towards the Catholic Church. All Saints Day and All Souls Day, November 1 and 2, are the most likely starting place. These days were dedicated to the dead—the somewhat slightly sinful ones—who were believed to be wallowing in Purgatory, and required an extra leg up to heaven. Their passage into the next world required many familiar-sounding rituals: vigils, special garments, torchlight processions, bell ringing, and mass celebrated in the name of the dead. After moving All Saints Day to the last day of October, it was renamed All Hallows (an archaic English word for “saint” is “hallow”). This incarnation of the festival stretched over days, through to November 2, All Souls Day.

Around the Protestant Reformation, things shifted. The rituals of All Hallow’s Eve and All Souls Day were forced underground and became family or community celebrations that included bonfires and midnight prayers for the dead. It may be that Protestants witnessing these midnight meetings mistook them for witchcraft, creating a link between the celebration and witches.

Without a strict connection to the church, people were free to establish their own customs and develop their own meanings for the activities of Halloween. In the absence of the guiding spiritual principles of the Catholic Church, those spirits out on the loose were feared and seen as more malevolent.

Revelers also borrowed liberally from the traditions of different celebrations throughout England, Ireland, Scotland, and Europe. Those included guising (dressing up) to outwit evil spirits, fortune telling, and mumming (begging for food door-to-door). This was the breeding ground for our modern day Halloween antics.

As the taste for the macabre deepened, ghoulish characters entered popular literature with the birth of Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster. And so Halloween continues to grow and change today. Its provenance remains a bone of contention for Christians and Neo-Pagans, both of whom would like to claim the seeds of the rites as their own. Halloween (and the Halloween origin-story myth) has been shaped to serve a variety of religious and cultural needs.

That’s where it came from. Where we are today looks very different.

hallows eve 2

Until the early 1930s, Halloween was an adult celebration featuring fortune telling, pranks, and harvest celebrations. Then the focus shifted to children who, over the next 40 years, ruled the night out in their costumes, demanding candy.

In 1970, the focus shifted back to adult celebrations. While children still dressed up and bobbed for apples, businesses saw dollar signs in catering to adults who were intent on recapturing their own childhoods, albeit with a ghoulish spin.

Decorations dot the lawns in October now, so elaborate that Christmas is beginning to pale in comparison.

Costumes have become a major investment in time and energy for adults who use the night to celebrate with friends. Parents accompanying their children door-to-door—as well as some of the people behind those doors—use the opportunity to dress up as well.

On the party circuit, a costume can become a status symbol. For the wealthy, theatrical supply stores rent intricate pieces, sometimes used as group costumes for wealthy cliques attending high-end private parties. Ornate, delicate pieces may serve the grand entrance and early evening mingling, while second and third costumes are pulled into duty as things become more raucous.

We’ve come a long way from the bed sheet with eyeholes cut in the middle.

More affordable costumes fly off the racks almost immediately when they hit the stores in early October. There are many excellent costumes that come from the home seamstress, or anyone with instructions from the internet and a glue gun. We’ve come a long way from the bed sheet with eyeholes cut in the middle. Costuming has also reflected our changing mores and taken a turn into The Sexy Anything territory

Halloween and haunted attractions have become billion-dollar-a-year economic drivers. Whether you buy or make your own fun, there are endless options when it comes to creating a cool Halloween. Let’s take a lurching step to our right, off the beaten path, and look at some of the things you didn’t know you needed for All Hallow’s Eve. (Disclaimer: the following are some of my personal favourites, listed without regard to popular or industry accolades, box office receipts, or what’s likely to fill the dance floor. Heck, some of these choices might actually hurt your popularity, but what better time to embrace your inner weird?)

 

Eyeballs

For your viewing pleasure.

Like the frights but can’t stand horror movies featuring demons and devils?

Consider the crossover genre, Agri Horror, with titles like Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006), Black Sheep (2006), and ThanksKilling (2009).

Prefer your villains inanimate? Redefine the way that rubber meets the road with Rubber (2011).

Want to scratch your horror movie itch with true patriot love? Canadian filmmakers have produced some of the finest horror of our time: Dead Ringers (1988), Videodrome (1983), Scanners (1981).

Canada also produced one of the gnarliest werewolf tales of our generation: Ginger Snaps (2000), Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004), and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004). You haven’t seen a sexy werewolf transformation until you’ve seen Katharine Isabelle grow fur.

The Soska sisters (Jen and Sylvia) of Vancouver brought us American Mary (2012), a role written for Isabelle that pulls its horror from the world of extreme body modification. The Soskas also helmed this year’s See No Evil 2, which went straight to DVD on October 21.

And, of course, the FX Network has just returned with the latest installment of American Horror Story, Freakshow. Carrie Bradshaw (Sex in the City, another brand of horror altogether) said it best: “There’s nothing scarier than a clown.” These people are not messing around.

Tongues

Halloween snacks, half-baked (or is that for the half-baked?).

Not up for Martha Stewart’s pristine Bedevilled Eggs, Goblin Flatbreads, Cauldron Curry, or Spinach Ricotta Skulls (who EATS like that)? For a more authentic, street approach, roaches headline the Halloween buffet table:

Stuffed Roaches (an appetizer involving dates and cream cheese)

Roach Puree (dip featuring walnuts and garlic)

Chocolate Cockroaches (with pecans and dates)

Munch-A-Roaches (not your everyday Rice Krispy treat)

Halloween Charred Roaches (cocoa spiced nuts)

Cockroach Clusters (chocolate covered nest cookies)

Earholes

A pop culture examination of all things Halloweenie wouldn’t be complete without music. If the “Monster Mash” makes you murderous, and not in a good way, Canadian indie artists take a stab at some new seasonal offerings:

“Monster Hospital” – Metric

“Things That Scare Me” – Neko Case

“Graveyard”  – Feist

“Romance To The Grave” – Broken Social Scene

Rags

hallows eve

And for many, the best part of Halloween: the guise. I’m not giving The Sexy Nurse another drop of ink, so what are some of the coolest ideas we’ll see hit the streets this year? (Arguably, these are for adults, but they’d work for the kiddies, too.)

A bottle of Sriracha

The Ice Bucket Challenge

Frozen’s Queen Elsa

Maleficent’s Maleficent

Orange is the New Black inmate

Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow

The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen

The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon (right?)

The Avengers’ Captain America

And finally, in the category of Too Soon, the Ebola costume

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