Marty Vanderhoek is the longtime truck driver behind Smart Lites, a mirror and lighting system to help drivers see into the vehicle’s blind spots to prevent injury and death. (Smart Lites video)

Langley trucker survives walking into the Dragon’s Den

A local man came away with an offer from one of the show hosts but others are also now interested.

Langley’s Marty Vanderhoek found out in February that he was going to be on national TV last week.

He was on the CBC show Dragon’s Den to solicit investment dollars for his startup called Smart Lite.

It’s a kit that uses a mirror and light system to help truckers see into their vehicle blind spots.

“I have purchase orders for about 4,000 sets,” he told the dragons on the show which aired last week.

Vanderhoek went on the show asking for $400,000 in exchange for giving one of the ‘dragons’ a 33 per cent share in the company.

The truck driver with about three decades on the roads told the Langley Advance that he was filmed in May of 2017.

Vanderhoek was inspired to create the system from catching a glimpse of something in a piece of chrome on his rig and being able to avoid an accident. But he also admits to a blind-spot accident.

“And I can also attest to the countless numbers of times that it was an inevitable close call,” he said in his company video.

There are about 5,000 death annually and about 140,000 injuries involving big trucks. Most are due to blind spot issues, he noted.

More than 500 drivers test marketed the system on their big rigs to provide anecdotal feedback.

“Each and every one of these drivers have come back to us to say that it would be very difficult for them today to ever drive a commercial vehicle without having a Smart Lite installed on the vehicle,” he noted.

Vanderhoek was getting lots of response even before the show.

“I’d be selling thousands right now if we had them,” he told the Advance.

That’s why he needs the capital.

Cha-ching

Dragon Jim Treliving agreed to provide the $400,000 capital for a 33 per cent stake in his firm.

The rest of the dragons turned him down but Manjit Minhas, the co-founder and co-owner of Minhas Distilleries, said she wants Smart Lites for each of her delivery trucks.

The Langley truck driver has already put in about $400,000 into Smart Lites.

Vanderhoek noted that in the interim since filming, he’s been approached by unrelated investors and is in negotiations. He hopes to start production soon.

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