Have you ever heard of Dragons’ Den? No? Well, it isn’t the latest Xbox video game. It is BBC’s popular TV reality show about budding entrepreneurs pitching their sometimes weird and wacky to the downright brilliant business ideas to 5 multi-millionaire investors, known as the Dragons.
Rules of engagement: Pitch your idea in 2 minutes; ask the sum you need; and the equity you are offering. You must walk away with the full sum you’ve asked or else walk away with nothing.
Dragons’ role: Each brings to the table 150,000 pounds of their own money to invest. Dragons are allowed to share investments with each other. The rest is pure negotiation.
Scenario: I’ve invented a flying car. I’m asking for 250,000 pounds for 15% of the equity.
Outcome A: You get your investment money and you’re on the road to becoming a successful, rich entrepreneur.
Outcome B: Your idea sucks, you’re wasting everyone’s time and you walk away with nothing.
Isn’t this concept brilliant? Inspired from the Japanese – the land of all-inspiring inventive TV programs – Dragons’ Den rocketed to national success in the UK and now also in Canada. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve been addicted to the show, imagining if I could put myself through that. Would you? Picture facing 5 very wealthy and very experienced tycoons interrogating you under harsh TV lights, with one-liners like ‘don’t quit your day job’ or ‘what planet are you orbiting?’ On top of that, you have to know your business figures at the tip of your fingers, from profit to turnover, to volume to sales forecast. This ain’t for the faint-hearted, honey.
Frog and I often wonder whether a French version could work. Who could be Le Cinq Dragons en France? Would the French public really put themselves on national TV to pitch their ideas? I know the French love reality TV, what with ‘Diner Presque Parfait’ (organise a dinner and get rated for it), ‘Koh-Lanta’ (French version of Survivor) and ‘Maman Cherche l’Amour’ (single mothers looking for love) – but a reality TV show on business? And call it L’Antre des Dragons? But nothing yet has come to French shores. Perhaps it’s a cultural need to be discreet. The idea of Vincent Bolloré, Michel E. Leclerc, François Pinault sitting next to Bernard Arnault and Bernard Tapie with a huge pile of Euros fighting for the next best investment. Now that’s great TV.
So what does it take to face a Dragon?
No fumbling with words.
Make sure your invention works.
Sweating profusely is a no-no.
Know your business figures inside out.
So, what do you think? Do you have what it takes?
Or will you say, I’m out?