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Founders of Vancouver roller skating gym set to pitch on Dragon's Den

Carla Smith and Lucy Croysdill, the founders of Vancouver's Rolla Skate Club, are shown in this image. (Photo credit: Kyrani Kanavaros) Carla Smith and Lucy Croysdill, the founders of Vancouver's Rolla Skate Club, are shown in this image. (Photo credit: Kyrani Kanavaros)

The founders of an inclusive, empowering roller skating gym in Vancouver are getting ready to pitch their plans to expand their business in the Dragon's Den.

Carla Smith and Lucy Croysdill, the co-founders of Rolla Skate Club, will be travelling to Toronto later this month to try and convince the panel of entrepreneurs to invest in their vision and support an effort to franchise their business which they describe as "a roller skating gym that parties on the weekend."

"We have been long-time fans of the show, we watch the show and as entrepreneurs we're always intrigued by seeing what other entrepreneurs are doing," Smith said.

So when they saw applications were opening up for auditions the pair decided to give it a shot.

While they aren’t allowed to say how much cash they'll be asking the sometimes ruthless panel for, they did give CTV News a preview of the pitch they'll deliver on May 22.

"We want to take this experience that we've created and the community and the joy that we've created for people here locally and really spread that around," Smith said, adding that they hope to establish dozens of franchises internationally over the next decade.

One thing they want the Dragons to know is that their business has been a success.

Since starting in 2018, the club has gone from hosting weekend pop-up lessons and events at locations ranging from parking lots to yoga studios. In 2021, the founders secured a permanent, 20,000-square-foot home at the PNE's aptly-named Rollerland building.

Now operating seven days a week, the club offers classes, youth camps, instructor training and weekend parties with themes like "Glam-O-Rama Disco." Forty-five people have been trained as instructors and there are around 500 members who hold monthly passes that grant them entry to unlimited classes. Smith says they did $1 million in revenue their first year.

Rolla Skate Clun founder Lucy Croysdill teaches a class. (Photo provided by Rolla Skate Club)

The second thing the founders hope the moguls in the Den will find compelling is the approach they take to running their gym, which they think is the "secret sauce" that accounts for their business taking off.

"We have very clear processes and systems in place to really make sure that everyone who walks through our doors feels welcomed, feels like this is a space where they can belong, where they can be themselves," Croysdill says.

"We’re creating a sense of community, creating a place where people feel seen, feel challenged, feel strong when they come through the doors and they have a lot of fun. And that's what makes it different than just, you know, a place to roller skate," Smith adds.


Both women have a background in roller derby, which they describe as a culture that promotes inclusivity, self-esteem and strength. While recognizing not everyone would want to participate in a full-on, competitive contact sport, they did want to find a way to encourage more people to lace up a pair of skates and discover the fierce, fun, freeing potential of roller skating.

"It's a really key part of our values to be inclusive to everyone, regardless of age, gender, body size. And we've really created our classes and structure around allowing people to challenge themselves but also every time they come in to do a class with us, they feel successful," Croysdill says.

Leading up to their potentially life-changing pitch, the women are doing research into the moguls they'll be meeting, including reading biographies. But they say nothing can really prepare them for what will happen once they’re in the studio and that it remains to be seen who will be most receptive to their ambitious plans for their business.

"We'll see whose eyes light up the most when we're in that room," Smith says.

"You just never know who it's going to resonate with. Roller skaters come in all shapes and sizes and backgrounds and ages so you can't really tell until you see that light in their eyes."

The exact date on which the episode featuring the Rolla Skate club co-founders will air has not been set, but it will be sometime in September. Top Stories

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