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"I'm out" on the Dragon's Den.

The Season 2 opener of the Dragon's Den had been sitting on my PVR for a week when I finally sat down to watch it last week.  I didn't see any of Season 1, but after all the hype I decided to see what this program was all about.  The premise is simple — every week entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of five wealthy people, and the winner is the idea that gets funded. 

In this episode:

Frankly, I didn't think much of the show.  

  1. Most of the contestants ideas were one of dorky, stupid, or easily copied (a web site that projects advertisements on bikinis?  C'mon CBC!).  
  2. There are too many entrepreneurs presenting which means that the Dragons offer very little insight into their thought processes.  In most cases the reason for rejection was that the entrepreneur was asking for too high a valuation, which, given the small asks and the advanced stages of some of the businesses, left one with the impression that the Dragons are simply greedy.
  3. Finally, the winning concept, the Rhinobag, won because the Dragons had all rented dumpsters in the past to solve their personal garbage disposal problems.  But how often does an ordinary person rent a dumpster?  Large scale residential trash disposal is a small segment out of the overall waste disposal business, and these very succesful entrepreneurs should have been able to spot that.

Sorry guys.  The Dragon's Den isn't worth missing a hockey game, or an episode of House or BattleStar for.  As they say on the show, "I'm out".

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Randy Charles Morin October 10, 2007, 6:21 am

    Comparing something to hockey is simply not fair. I watch the Simpsons and Star Trek, but wouldn't watch them if their was a game on.

  • Sherwin Sim October 10, 2007, 6:27 am

    The banana protector was a good idea too, and their numbers were shocking. However, although they all admitted it was a good idea, they didn't quite understand the product/market enough to invest their money.

    With the Rhinobag I think the opportunity was obvious minus the fact that the CEO seemed a little dull.

    I guess I will agree with you the dragons have flaws
    a) that the choices are sporadic, and that they definitely want quite a bit of equity in the companies.
    b) The amount of time spent with the potential companies seem like very little. I thought they would of went with the banana protector or at least negotiated a deal

  • Alec October 10, 2007, 9:39 am

    Fair enough Randy. I PVR everything, though… and the Dragon's are coming off the PVR. Neat idea, poorly executed.

  • Alec October 10, 2007, 9:46 am

    Sherwin — even though they didn't understand the market, the mere fact that 700K units have been sold should have caused them to pay more attention, in my opinion. I've seen these protectors in local stores, recently. To me, a business with customers, working distribution and revenue, which is just looking for expansion money, seems like a no brainer.

  • Sherwin Sim October 10, 2007, 10:05 am

    I disagree, I think the Rhinobag is a great idea and has the potential to be really sucessful. I mean it’s almost like a DIY 1800-Got-Junk, which is quite a successful business across Canada. The only difference is instead of hiring 1800GotJunk guys to come and evaluate your unwanted stuff, you just buy the bag at your local hardware store and fill it.

    I live out in the rural areas of Ottawa, and I see quite a few houses this summer renting a dumpster. Mostly its for major renovations of their house/cottage or just removal of large amounts of waste (leftover farm buildings, lots of old moldy firewood ect).

    I think this options provides
    1) easier access for waste disposal,
    2) the uneasy feeling of hiring a company to come and “judge” the stuff you don’t want.
    3) Potential to market different sizes of bags to make your waste removal more cost effective. (Renting a dumpster but only filling it halfway)

  • Alec October 10, 2007, 10:10 am

    Sherwin, I live in the rural areas of Ottawa too. I can tell you that I haven’t seen a dumpster in the drive of any of my neighbours houses all summer long. But even if it IS a great idea, why did it win versus the banana protector, which is already a proven business that has 700K customers? That’s over $400K in revenues already. Or the Mastermoves trainer with 1500 customers who’ve paid $100 each for the trainer? That’s $150K in revenues.

    I didn’t see any rhyme or reason for their choices.

  • Alec October 10, 2007, 12:23 pm

    I can't see explaining to my existing investors why we've sold 50% of the company for a bag of jelly-beans to these guys…

  • Andrew October 10, 2007, 2:08 pm

    DD is a ‘made for Canada’ of the original very successful BBC show.

    The Dragons are looking for big returns fast, and make no bones about it. The Banana protector offered no such returns, and the owners were simply there to get free PR and valuable prime time advertising, they cleverly accomplished what they were after.

    The Rhino Bag is a brilliant concept – the Dragons have taken it to an entire new level. Keeping in mind this show taped a while ago. Since they signed on, the Rhino Bag has signed distribution with Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Home Hardware (tons of independents), expanded via franchise to the UK, and has eyes on the US. Other indirect channels have opened up such as Salt and Soil supply companies, delivering your topsoil or mulch in the RhinoBag (so as to not dirty your driveway) and when empty they will come and pick up a bag full of your yard waste.

    It will be picked up within 2 years by a waste management company for a huge win for the owners and investors – for a measly investment of 100K each.

    I have found the Dragons to be pretty sharp – and the show is incredibly entertaining.

    When will we see Alec and Howard pitching to them?

  • Andrew October 11, 2007, 1:32 am

    But can you see explaining to your investors how your PR skills got you 20 minutes of primetime national TV exposure?

  • JR August 3, 2010, 7:27 pm

    The Rhino bag is a good idea and is being offered by CanadianWaste management across Canada.

  • Bryan March 13, 2011, 7:27 pm

    Having only seen the one show, I think you are missing an important part… there isn't one 'winner', each of the deals are independent of each other. There are plenty of episodes where two or three of the pitchers get deals done. You just happened to watch an episode that had only had one deal. So the RhinoBag didn't win 'against' the plastic banana or any of the others. And for the record, having worked for a junk removal company… yes, the Rhino Bag a very good idea. it's more convenient for the end client (who saves money compared to hiring Junk Removal guys) and the investors make money as well. It's pretty much win win.

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