A University of Toronto (U of T) graduate won big on the popular entrepreneurial CBC show Dragon’s Den.
Noureddin Chahrour, who recently graduated with a degree in kinesiology, was given $90,000 for a 30 per cent stake in his startup, Adrenalease.
Adrenalease is an ergonomic fitness clothing company, and Chahrour brought his top product onto the show, the Posture Performance shirt.
The shirt uses elastic energy to mimic muscle movements to help improve posture. The shirt gently pulls back on the shoulders, aiding the pattern and efficiency of breathing during exercise so the respiratory muscles work less to move air through the lungs.
Chahrour originally asked for $60,000 for 20 per cent ownership of the company. Instead, he walked out with $90,000. He said most of that money will go to marketing his product.
On Dragon’s Den, entrepreneurs pitch their products to a panel of venture capitalists, known as “dragons.” Most people on the show leave empty-handed.
Chahrour said he was a little intimidated by the dragons, and described his experience as an “emotional rollercoaster.”
“You have five wealthy business moguls sitting down right across from you, which is enough to make anyone nervous,” he said. “It’s pretty dark in there, and when the lights come on, there are about 1,000 lights and they’re very bright. You can’t look into them. If you do, you’ll probably go blind. It’s nerve-racking.”
“You can’t really see the dragons’ facial expressions—I couldn’t tell if they were squinting or smiling or looking at me weird,” he added.
Adrenalease is currently valued at more than a million dollars and has signed a contract with Pharmasave, which has 5,000 pharmacies across Canada.
Chahrour conducted research for his shirt at U of T last year. Jack Goodman, a kinesiology professor at the school, supervised his research.
“The idea for the shirt was entirely his which, as he told me, was stimulated by a lecture I gave to his class on how the ‘oxygen cost’ of ventilation becomes significant at high levels of effort and may compromise exercise performance in some conditions,” Goodman said.
“Apart from guiding him through the design and operationalizing his study, I was particularly insistent on one point—that he should not become a huckster selling bogus ideas or merchandise,” he added.
Chahrour said he got the idea for his shirt after experiencing chronic neck and shoulder pain, which stemmed from sitting down too long over his computer and studying too long in one of U of T’s libraries.
“We wanted something that looked a bit sporty, something people wouldn’t mind actually wearing in public,” he said. “Statistically, 80 per cent of people will develop some sort of back problem or shoulder pain in their lives. I think that having this posture performance shirt will relieve that and will help solve a really big problem.”
The Posture Performance shirt currently costs $89.99 and can be purchased on Adrenalease’s website, as well as at selected Pharmasave pharmacies.