When “Dragon’s Den” first aired in the United Kingdom, it was a revolutionary idea, which was since sold around the world, with various named attached, such as “Shark Tank” in the United States.
The point of the programmes is simple. Business owners or inventors make a presentation of their idea or company, project how much money they think it will make, and ask for a set amount of money in return for an equity share in the business, over an unspecified amount of time.
There was initial doubt over whether such a show would actually be a success, but it did, picking up far better ratings than expected, and actually being held up as a beacon for helping to get the casual viewer interested in business, or perhaps even inspire them to come up with their own ideas.
So far, so good, or at least that is what it seems. How could such an idea ever get old? Different people, with different ideas, many of which you sit and think “I could have easily done that,” asking millionaires for money, who generally respond in a way that will sit and make you chuckle like an 8 year old watching Tom and Jerry for the first time.
The idea did get old, though. Primarily, the biggest problem is one that eventually afflicts most television shows of this genre.
The focus of “Dragon’s Den,” at least, on the part of the producers, became producing great television. Naturally so, you might think, but that would be to discount the fact that the natural dynamic and environment is what made it so good in the first place.
It was raw, it was real, and it actually gave you what you felt was a real insight into how pitching for investment would feel.
Given the way the show operates, you would expect that, years into the making of the show, people appearing would have learned what to do and say, and what not to do and say. There has been no natural evolution of the people who go on the show, you still see people who make you question how they manage to get out of bed and get dressed every morning.
Surely, if you were going to appear on such a show, the first thing you would do is watch every previous episode and ensure you have a watertight case. That is more an issue with the stupidity of the ‘contestants’ than the show itself, but it still demeans its value.
All About Me
At least in the UK, the show has served as a great platform for the “Dragons” to become household names, and by extension grow their own brands and business portfolios. Today, watching an episode feels like you are in an hour-long advert for whatever trend or product they are looking to promote today.
The show may well be about them, but surely the focus should be on business and what people can learn, not how many millions one of them made by buying a failing lingerie brand.
Time for the Den to close, at least for a few years, and get back to what it should be about.
Robert Rayford is a business and finance specialist with interests across both industries, including how private equity software can be used effectively as a tool for assisting with investment decisions.