Like any good parent, all David Walcott wanted to do was help his child.
After hard hockey games or practices, son Daniel Walcott would regularly complain about sore or heavy legs. Being a hockey dad, David gave his son coconut water – a super-hydrating drink that many athletes swear by to stave off cramps and reduce lactic acid buildup in their bodies.
Only two problems: Daniel hated the coconut taste and the drink disagreed with his stomach.
So David embarked on a years-long mission to make the perfect coconut water sports drink to satisfy Daniel, a defensive prospect in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.
That mission led the Walcotts last month to CBC’s “Dragon’s Den,” where David successfully pitched two of the Canadian show’s stars to invest $150,000 in Prodr8, the flavored coconut water sports drink that he developed for Daniel.
“This was my draft, in a way,” David Walcott said of his appearance on Canada’s version of “Shark Tank.” “Daniel got drafted, now I got drafted. We’re kind of a bunch of guys that have these huge ambitions and we’re kind of in the beginning of all these dreams. It’s nice when each one of us gets validation to go on to the next level.”
David is in Calgary as a member of District Ventures, one of Canada’s top accelerator programs for packaged goods. District Ventures Accelerator is part of a support system that delivers capital, mentoring and marketing to innovative CPG companies.
Founded by “Dragon’s Den” cast member Arlene Dickinson, District Ventures Accelerator, District Ventures Capital, and Venture Communications helps turn successful companies into globally respected brands.
David intends to use the “Dragon’s Den” money and the Calgary training to re-brand Prodr8, shifting its manufacturing operations from the U.S. to Canada and relaunching the product in March.
“This is going to be my retirement, my swan song, so I’m going to put everything I got into this, not just for the fact that I loved it because it was something I did because of my passion for my son,” David said. “I recognized that there was a possibility or opportunity in potentially creating something for Daniel and filling a void at the same time because of the entrepreneur craziness in my head.”
Hockey people aren’t strangers to “Dragon’s Den.” Retired National Hockey League tough guy Donald Brashear appeared on the show in 2016 and struck a $500,000 deal for Brash87, a low-cost hockey stick company he created.
The nod from the two Dragons last month toward David Walcott’s fledgling business couldn’t have come at a better time for the Quebec native.
A divorced father with three sons, David struggled to make ends meet while guiding Daniel through the pricey world of competitive youth hockey.
He’s worked as an Uber driver in Chicago and Tampa over the years to help pay the bills. When Daniel attended the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia, David slept in his car to save money.
The father’s sacrifices aren’t lost on the son.
“I know it’s been a long journey,” said Daniel, 24. “I lived with my dad in Chicago when I played there. We moved to an area where I could play for a good high school hockey team where it wasn’t the cheapest area to live in. We made it work. I owe him a lot.”
The New York Rangers selected Daniel in the fifth round with the 140th overall pick of the 2014 draft from the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Before that, he played club hockey at small Lindwood University near St. Louis.
The Rangers traded the 5-foot-11, 174-pound defenseman to the Lightning in 2015 in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick that year. Daniel has played for the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, since the 2015-16 season.
A pre-season shoulder injury has kept Daniel off the ice so far in 2018-19. He hopes to return to the Crunch line up in February or March.
Daniel was on the ice last season when the Crunch went on a lengthy winning streak, a run that he half-jokingly says was fueled by the cases of Prodr8 his dad sent to the team.
“We started the season kind of slow, like we did this year, we got our shipment of Prodr8 later in the season, and as soon as we got it we were on an 11-game winning streak,” Daniel said. “It was the boost we needed.”
It certainly gave David Walcott a boost.
“They went on a winning streak, and I took full credit for it!” he said.
Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey. And download the Color of Hockey podcast from iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play