I’m probably being a bit nasty with this post title. BBC2’s Dragons’ Den is probably one of my favourite television programs. For those who have never seen it, this is a program where a group of 5 Venture Capitalists (VCs) appraise the business plans of budding entrepreneurs and decide whether to invest in the contestants’ business proposals.
There are a couple of things about Dragons Den which those who enter the den don’t seem to realise. These VCs are self-made men and women (or woman, as is usually the case). They have a lot of money. But they are not giving it away. Their sole purpose in being on this program is to generate more money. Thus the entrepreneurs must realise this is not about them making money. It is about the VCs making a large amount of money, and about the entrepreneur making enough out of their idea to start up another business in 3 years. No-one will make a fortune out of the dragons’ deals (except possibly, the dragons).
But in order to educate people about this aspect of the program, what I think is necessary is a Dragon’s Den Revisted series. This would track the dragons’ investment in businesses presented in the program. It would articulate the success or failure of the businesses, and would specify the return on investment achieved by the dragons as well as the entrepreneurs who orginally pitched the idea in the den.
Oh and if you have never heard of Moot Corp, it’s a competition for MBA students and recent graduates to pitch a business idea to venture capitalists, with the objective of winning a nominal bursary to begin a business. The business ideas are usually relatively good quality, but even if you win a Moot Corp competition, the money you receive is so limited and the conditions of investment so constrained, that the business often declines into obscurity. Really, the point of a Moot Corp win is to promote the careers of the winners, not to generate a compelling business. Unfortunately, Dragons Den doesn’t even achieve that much for the participating entrepreneurs. So if it isn’t quite Moot Corp for Dummies, perhaps it is more ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (My Venture Capitalist does)’.