Let’s talk about the real stars of Dragons’ Den – the brave entrepreneurs pitching their stories.
Did you know you can find past Dragons’ Den some of these people blogging on the CBC website, commenting on the deals and the Dragons?
It’s all very impressive.
In another reality show, The Bachelor, the girls who compete to win the heart of the single male return for one episode to confront the poor fellow.
Unlike The Bachelor, Dragons’ Den does not dedicate a show to the entrepreneurs returning to roast the Dragons - Arlene, Brett, Kevin, Jim and Robert.
To give the CBC credit, it lets fans know how the entrepreneurs and their businesses progressed and gives past winners, like Trent Kitsch of SAXX, their own blog too. But here’s the thing: participants can get in their two cents about their deal by blogging on the Forum just like TomChalker of dataSentinel who helpfully answered other bloggers’ questions. If you are expecting mildly depressed, dejected entrepreneurs who harbour ill will, forget that.
There are the budding armchair venture capitalists, like Dannolin and Pinebox, rating the merits of each business or venting about their own Den experience. Reading the past contestants and their often provocative takes on current pitches is fascinating because these guys know their stuff. It’s as if they’ve been through the miracle of entering the Dragons’ Den as innocents and emerging as venture capitalists (with tougher comments than Jim or Arlene would ever utter.)
The leader of the blogger pack is Ralfcis – he of the “sharpened keyboard” – was an engineer at Nortel. With his quirky wit and prolific writing, Rolfcis could make a career change from engineer drop-out to ad copy writer. Ralfcis describes his experience on a previous season of Dragons’ Den and as I read, it all came flooding back. Rolfcis was expecting a display table where he could spread out his samples. Instead, he had to stand up and pull out each item from the bag. Needless to say, things did not go well.
Rolfcis blogs about the good natured reaction to the pitch by Dragon Laurence Lewin, who sadly has just lost his battle with cancer.
Allison of Ariel Angels blogged all the way from Dubai to recommend a book called What Makes Things Stick. At first I was dubious and thought she just wanted to make Kevin O’Leary stick to the wall. In fact, the book’s inspired by Malcom Gladwell’s best seller book, Tipping Point and is a must read for anyone selling a product.
Maybe the bloggers could run a book list?
My happy browsing came to an abrupt halt when I read the name of a blogger called Darryl Koster. Hang on a mo. Isn’t he the pleasant CEO of Buster Rhino, that delicious sauce signed on with Brett Wilson and Robert Herjavec?
In the CBC Forum, Darryl Koster, the CEO, reveals to us that he turned down Brett and Robert’s deal. When I read that I went oooh nooo!
Where was the spoiler alert, Darryl?
I know there’s that six month delay from filming to the airing of the show but think about it, if you found out before season end of The Bachelor that the final girl has split and is living cheerfully with someone else, wouldn’t that be a huge let down? Darryl does make up for it by giving great website and technology advice to other presenters which may mean I have to vote him the season winner. Darryl, can you check out my website and give me some feedback?
There are many financiers who build their careers from the engineering profession and one of those people is the Big Kahuna blogger, Dragon W. Brett Wilson. How great is that to have a Dragon cruise around the Forum and drop in to blog?
Brett does not do much chit chat on the TV show except when he revves at warp drive to do a deal. Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen. The bloggers do appreciate how Brett shows up on the chat forums explaining why he made decisions and answering issues raised. He also says that he is not as the CBC portrays him – quiet and thoughtful.
Are you kidding, Brett?
That’s like describing Clint Eastwood as quiet and thoughtful. You are in the entertainment industry for a reason; it’s not because of your bookish ways. But don’t worry, your secret’s safe with us.
The bloggers do spend a great deal of time debating whether the show is better or worse with Kevin’s dramatics. One blogger calls Kevin a troll hiding under the bridge waiting to trap entrepreneurs which is a gross insult and unfair to trolls worldwide. Yet, I do believe Kevin really does the fairest exchange on Dragons’ Den as he teaches while he makes his decisions. After going through the hour meeting with Kevin, not one entrepreneur could possibly say, “I do not know why he did not invest with me, why my business needs to be changed, how my revenues might not reach the amount I expect or what I need to do.”
Not one Angel investor out in the real world would give anywhere near that much information for an entrepreneur to take away. In fact, investors say, “I like your plan but could you give us a call in a year?” That translates into au revoir. Most entrepreneurs would prefer to get more feedback than that.
I notice many bloggers have picked up Kevin’s key phrases too – the sign of a great teacher:
Let me use my time machine, slash, crystal ball and visit the future to imagine how the business revenues go.
Here comes Kevin and his bus.
How do we make moneeeeeeey.
Brett on the other hand chooses to share his investment strategies after the fact on the blogs. Either way, I think this sharing of knowledge is a fair swap between presenters and Dragons.
There is the trade theory that when people show each other their goods, it creates more perceived value, even though money may not have exchanged hands. The Dragons’ Den has entrepreneurs show their businesses and Dragons give their analysis and, sometimes, cash. Maybe this does create good will.
Several bloggers, like sslondon, liked the Dragons giving away cash in cheap loans because they had sympathy for someone’s situation. Brett Wilson and Robert Herjovec have done this so far and the Forums fans eat it up. I hate to rain on the parade, but if venture capitalists and Angels practiced this style of investing, they would be bankrupt within the year. Most businesses have their investing rules and deal structures. Doing venture capital and then veering abruptly to the left to give a loan or two means way too much complication for your average VC to manage.
Firms tend to do their philanthropy separately and for good reason. Maybe a philanthropy option should be built into the Dragons’ Den rules as a life line to be given once during the season, but Kevin O’Leary is right: feeling for a business owner is generally not the way the prickly world of investing works.
Kevin is teaching entrepreneurs how to fish; actually, he’s teaching how to spear gun and he doesn’t just hand over the darn fish.
For all you past contestant bloggers – here’s an idea for you:
What about a road show? You could call it, Lessons Learnt in Dragons’ Den. (Ralfcis, I’m sure you could come up with a catchier title). Maybe the sponsors like Profit magazine or EDC would be interested in supporting an event? Perhaps the School Boards may like you speaking to their high school students taking business classes. There are many entrepreneurs out in Canuckland who would benefit from hearing more from your side. I know I did.
Just a thought.