Yesterday was finally the night where Vancouver could get a look inside at what really goes down in Dragons’ Den and what things you don’t hear about. Four Vancouver entrepreneurs took the stage for just over two hours and filled us in on some neat stories about how they made it onto the show and how the aftermath played out – which for the most part, was a little shocking and simply, a bit disappointing.
Out of the four, all except for one got funding on the show. However, in reality, only one ended up getting funding – one year later. I’m not going to put forward any names to illustrate my points and quite frankly, I don’t think I need to. The theme of false hope brought up throughout the night reminded me of the famous crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, which has been under siege this year for hiding failed projects.
To be blunt, the impression I got was that Dragons’ Den really is ” just another TV show” that looks great from the outside, but can be a whole different story from the inside. We have all heard how lots of companies don’t get through the “due diligence” and that many deals fall through. That is fair. If someone lied on stage or their numbers do not make sense in the end, they shouldn’t get the investment. BUT, when everything does check out and you get your money a year later or not at all, I have a problem with that. One of the panelists just gave up on their lone investor because they were basically only accessible via Twitter and had to be tracked down through one of their four offices. I get they are all really busy people, but when you make a promise and put on a big smile on TV and don’t follow through, you really devalue the show and worst of all, give people false hopes. And excuse me, a tweet? Twitter is a fantastic tool but if you can only get a hold of your investor through a tweet, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Entrepreneurs are people you just need to respect because they are putting it all on the line for something that starts off as just an idea – with absolutely no security at all. The vision, passion, and determination put into a startup is truly admirable and honestly, that’s what it’s all about. Facing a problem everyday, giving your best shot at solving it and not giving up until you conquer it – then repeating the process. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone so if you’re on the other side looking at the entrepreneurs on TV as just entertainment, try and put yourself in their shoes as well. The four entrepreneurs that were on the panel last night truly are entrepreneurs because they are all successful regardless if the Dragons followed through with them or not – you move on and make the best of it. Many commented about how the main value is the great exposure you get out of it and also the personal development you go through as you perfect your pitch, learn to handle pressure situations, and step out of your comfort zone to stand up for your true love – your startup.
It was an overall fantastic event and I will definitely still be watching the upcoming season of Dragons’ Den this September, but this time with a little bit more caution and awareness. It’s still a great show and that’s why about 2 million Canadians watch it. I get it’s TV and it has to be entertaining (sometimes for the wrong reasons) but I just think the general public has to be made more aware of the caveats I learned from last night. Aspiring entrepreneurs cannot simply bank on them making it big through Dragons’ Den because clearly, that might not be the best route. I’m personally very excited to see David Chilton come in as the new Dragon because he truly is a humble and honest guy, who is as smart as they get, and who I really think would stay true to his word. You can judge for yourself and take a look at my interview with him in June.
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Photo Credit: CBC.