An Interview with Chris Cheng of Holiday Rejects After His Startup’s Big Dragons’ Den Win

They did it. Chris Cheng, Kyle Fitzgerald, and Adil Hooda of Holiday Rejects did it. They walked into the Dragons’ Den on CBC and struck a deal with three Dragons: Kevin O’Leary, David Chilton and Jim Treliving. Although the show aired December 11, the deal closed back in October, just in time for them to start selling their Ugly Christmas Sweaters online and in two kiosks in Edmonton and Calgary.

In just six short weeks they sold over 4,000 sweaters and are estimating selling 7,000 by January. On average, the vintage sweater sells for $40 and new sweaters are $65.

The Dragons have already been paid back their investment plus 33% return and counting.

I was able to grab an interview with Chris Cheng one of the three partners of Holiday Rejects and ask him some questions all entrepreneurs want to know and he had to answer in three sentences or less.    


What inspired you to start your business?

Going to an ugly sweater party four years ago and having nothing; never wanting to shop in the Zeller’s women’s department ever again.

Describe your business in one sentence: what problem do you solve?

We make it easy for our customers to find a large number of ugly sweaters in one place.

What is your competitive edge that sets you apart? 

First to market, Canadian owned (no customs/duties), and large selection.

What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

Closing a deal with three dragons on Dragons’ Den and also contributing to a hugely entertaining episode.

Name your biggest mentor or inspiration. 

Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett. Branson for conquering the work-life balance, Gates and Buffett for their charitable giving.

What is the one piece of advice you would give other entrepreneurs?

Work hard, be nice to others. It’s possible to create win-win situations and I think those are the most satisfying businesses and deals.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Who knows—never thought I’d be slinging sweaters at the mall two years ago and so predicting five into the future is just about impossible. I’m always ready to capitalize on an opportunity whenever one may present itself.