CBC today announced that Lane Merrifield and Vincenzo Guzzo will join the DRAGONS’ DEN lineup for season 13, premiering fall 2018. Merrifield and Guzzo bring a wealth of knowledge and skill to the show with first-hand experience establishing and growing multi-million dollar businesses.
These two new Dragon investors will join Arlene Dickinson, Jim Treliving, Michele Romanow and Manjit Minhas, as financier Michael Wekerle and fashion icon Joe Mimran depart the series. Wekerle is leaving to focus on the re-opening of Toronto’s iconic live music venue, the El Mocambo, while Mimran will continue to devote his time to Gibraltar Ventures and its invested companies and will also be working on two large-scale projects, one for a large U.S. public company food retailer and the second initiative in the U.S. and Canada that has yet to be announced.
“I am happy to welcome two very impressive new Dragons to the team this season,” said Jennifer Dettman, executive director, Unscripted Content, CBC. “With their extensive experience launching innovative and game-changing businesses, Lane and Vincenzo will bring fresh vision and energy to the Den. We thank Michael and Joe for their commitment to the series and developing Canadian entrepreneurs over the past several years. They will always be a part of the Dragons’ Den family, and we wish them continued success with their new ventures.”
“I am thrilled to be joining the incredible lineup of Dragons in the Den this season,” said Merrifield.
“I am thrilled to be joining the incredible lineup of Dragons in the Den this season,” said Merrifield. “I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the power and adventure of entrepreneurialism throughout my life, and I can’t wait to share that joy and experience with others. We are privileged to live in a country where entrepreneurs are given a platform like this and I’m honoured to be a part of it.”
“As a fan of Dragons’ Den, I’ve watched the series from my couch for the past 12 seasons and been forced to hold my tongue,” said Guzzo. “Today, this changes – and I am both excited and honoured to be joining the series as a Dragon investor on lucky season 13. I look forward to guiding some of Canada’s best and brightest entrepreneurs and make some amazing deals.”
Merrifield is the creative genius and virtual game-changer behind Club Penguin, the world’s largest children’s social network. At 28 years of age and just 18 months after launching the network, he sold it for $350 million and accepted his next challenge as one of the youngest executive vice presidents at the Walt Disney Company, where he grew Club Penguin to the billion dollar brand it is today.
After departing Disney, he launched FreshGrade, a learning assessment tool that is currently being used in 80% of school districts across Canada. One year later, he founded Wheelhouse, an organization that invests in and supports early-stage tech companies and entrepreneurs. Lending his hand to up-starters, Merrifield also keeps his influence in the corporate world by sitting on the board of Spin Master.
Over the years, his teams have won dozens of awards including a prestigious BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television) Award for Club Penguin. Lane has received an Honorary Fellows Award, a Business Leader of the Year award from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and he was also listed as one of The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 35 Executives under 35.
The only son of Italian immigrants, Guzzo always believed he could turn his dad’s small theatre business into the mega-scaled empire it is today – he just needed to take on the big guys. In 1998, Guzzo did just that, when he took on the biggest movie theatre competition in Canada to gain equal opportunity for the little guy to show first-run releases – and won.
Twenty years later, Vincenzo is the President and CEO of Cinemas Guzzo, the number one operator in Quebec and the third largest movie exhibitor in Canada. All Cinemas Guzzo locations were built by another Guzzo holding, turning Le Groupe Guzzo Construction Inc. into one of the most successful general contracting outlets in Quebec.
Most recently, Vincenzo has expanded operations again and become a restaurateur, opening a chain of trendy Italian pork sandwich locations called Porcetta as well as two successful fine-dining establishments with a third slated to open in summer 2018. Guzzo and his wife Maria are also renowned philanthropists, giving generously to numerous hospitals culminating in the establishment of the Guzzo Family Foundation in 2007. Guzzo’s contributions have been internationally recognized as he is the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, was knighted by the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and is a distinguished member of the Order of Malta.
Production on DRAGONS’ DEN’s 13th season is currently underway at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto. Tracie Tighe is executive producer and Molly Middleton and Yette Vandendam are senior producers. Dianne Buckner hosts.
Click here to get to know the new Dragons.