It probably seems like an OK idea to begin with. You fill out an application, show up in front of some cameras and pitch your company to a bunch of high-end angel investors that you would never have a chance to pitch to otherwise.
In fact, for the startup community as a whole, The Dragon’s Den should be a good thing. It draws attention to the idea of starting your own business, makes it a little sexy and the show is balanced enough to show the failures along with the successes.
It really is good entertainment, I’ll be watching every episode this coming season. If they want to really up the entertainment value, they should make Sean Wise the host — he would be much better than Dianne Buckner. Not that I mind Dianne.
Would I take my startup on The Dragon’s Den? Not a chance in hell, and for a few reasons.
The second reason is that you are giving up all control of the portrayal of your business. I don’t know about you, but when I go in to a “dragon’s den” to do a presentation, I take some comfort in knowing that I have control over how my business idea is communicated. By pitching on national television, you are letting an editor decide how your business should look, sound and feel. No deal!
The third, and biggest, reason I wouldn’t think of going on the Dragon’s Den is because there is absolutely no incentive for the “Dragon’s” to make a good deal with me or my startup. Why? Because they aren’t there to make good investments. Judging by the tiny size of their investments, my guess is that the CBC offers them indemnity from loss up to a certain amount (the investments can go bad, and the CBC will compensate them).
That may not be the case, but it doesn’t matter much anyway, because the real investment that the four investors are making is in themselves. If they lose 400k on investments on the show, that is still 400k well invested in raising their own national profile. The payoffs of being a TV star can, at times, be lucrative. Especially as these four behave a bit like their are thinking semi-retirement.
So, you won’t see me there, but I’ll be glued to the TV!