In honour of the Champlain Saint-Lambert’s 50th anniversary, the college has followed up with 50 of its alumni to see where their paths have led after their time in Cegep. These 50 former students have gone on to accomplish amazing things and their paths show just how much is possible for a Champlain grad.
This entrepreneur braved the dragons to push his business to the next level.
For Carmelo Marsala (Commerce, 2006), it all started with an idea.
His idea was for a product that had virtually no competition on the market and met a consumer need he’d experienced firsthand. It proved good enough to impress a high-profile investor.
In 2015, Marsala appeared on the CBC TV show Dragon’s Den and was able to secure an offer of investment worth $175,000 from Boston Pizza co-owner Jim Treliving.
“We kind of made history on the show,” said Marsala. “Normally people spend an hour making their pitch. I was in and out with a deal in less than 12 minutes.”
Marsala didn’t ultimately end up taking the investment from Treliving but he said the experience on Dragon’s Den proved to be great exposure for his company.
Marsala started off painting houses as a student job. When clients would ask if he could paint their vinyl siding or garage doors, he’d refuse, saying the regular paint would just chip off and crack.
But the requests got Marsala thinking: If these surfaces could be painted in a factory, why couldn’t the same process apply for on-site work at people’s homes?
“This service didn’t really exist before,” he said.
Marsala embarked on a project to develop a prototype which would act as a permanent exterior paint solution. He worked with paint formulation chemists and developed a mobile unit that could produce factory-quality spray painting from anywhere.
That’s how Spray-Net was born.
“It brings the factory to the homeowner,” he told the dragons during his pitch.
Marsala already had a successful business and several franchisees before his appearance on Dragon’s Den, but the investment allowed him to expand his franchising to across Canada.
He now counts 110 Spray-Net franchises across Canada and the U.S., with about half of those located south of the border.
For Marsala, starting a company and becoming his own boss was a natural way to jumpstart his career.
“My father always had his own business,” Marsala said. “I tried working in a job a few times and I didn’t last very long.”
Marsala launched his company at the same time he was finishing his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Concordia’s John Molson School of Business in 2010.
Marsala’s advice to current students and recent grads: “You’ve got to work, you’ve got to read books, you’ve got to learn. Things don’t come easily in life. Know yourself, read, learn, try things and see what you like and what you’re good at.”