Dragon’s Den: The missing piece

Watching the latest episode last night I got thinking that CBC really needs a different mix of Dragon’s next season. My fundamental problem with it right now is every episode we continuously hear “It’s not a space I know anything about” and it’s generally Robert Herjavec or Kevin O’Leary saying it.

And I think it’s because they’ve got a major gap in the skill sets of the Dragons on the show – manufacturing.

While many of the “contestants” are total crackpots there have been more than a few opportunities over the past couple of seasons that the Dragon’s have passed on simply because they didn’t get the space etc. – the reality though was the person typically wasn’t looking to the Dragon’s for insights into their own industry. They knew all that themselves – what a lot of them truly needed was support in moving to that next step – taking hand crafted to mass production.

Lawrence might have some insights but I think fashion is a world unto itself – besides his real value is understanding retail strategies.

But who to replace?

When push comes to shove I think Robert needs to go – I like him but when you step back I think his real strengths (computers/IT Services etc.) add minimal value to the mix. When you look at it, with the exception of the JobLoft guys there haven’t really been any legitimate software opportunities showing up on the show (they’re not great TV and I’m guessing many are deliberately avoiding DD as a “financing opportunity”).

Swap him out in favour of a new Dragon who has some serious manufacturing cred and I think he (or she) would provide an interesting perspective on a lot of these products. It really is the one hole they’ve got in the show right now. The other four cover off key industries, skills & personalities to balance out the show. What they’re missing is someone who really really gets taking a product from idea/prototype to manufacturing.

Add a manufacturing person to the mix and I think they’d likely “lead” a lot more of the deals with Jim, Lawrence or Arlene following (for when it’s time to take the product to market).

Oh, while I’m on the topic of Dragon’s Den – about this 50% thing.

Would someone on the show please call these guys out on their 50% fixation?

It’s the most bullshit play in the book. They all know there’s plenty of other ways to structure these deals without stripping the entrepreneur of the bulk of their equity right off the bat.

Sure, occasionally the “valuation” the person is putting on their company based on the ask/equity share ratio ( i.e. $250K for 10% of my idea ) is out to lunch once in a while but many times they’re simply putting the screws to the entrepreneur.

For example, the woman last night, with the line of home organization products, should have run far, far away from that deal – Arlene gave her some good advice “Take the order to the bank and get some money” as she stepped out of the deal. I can’t fathom why she flipped and nodded “It’s a good deal” to the girl later.

Tragic.