I had lunch yesterday with a group of TV producers from the CBC talking about their new program, a five-part reality show scheduled for this fall: Dragon’s Den.
It’s an entrepreneurial version of American Idol, and it looks fabulous.
It’s a TV version of a venture fair: entrepreneurs and inventors pitching for capital in front of a panel of investors. Only the investors are accomplished Canadian entrepreneurs: articulate, experienced, hopeful, but notoriously skeptical.
The “pitchers” are real Canadian innovators, looking for $50,000, $100,000 or more to fund development or expansion of their products or businesses. At a rehearsal I saw a few weeks ago, the products ranged from an incomprehensible computer service to high-end fashion to a Web 2.0 twist on the age-old jukebox.
The trick, by the way, is that these judges, the dragons, are committed to what they're doing. They have to put up their own money to be on the show, and if they deem a deal worth doing, they invest their own money.
Now, TV being TV, there will be lots of sensationalizing and trivializing of the process. The format requires the “dragons” to be demanding and impatient and superior (think acerbic American Idol judge Simon Cowell – times five!). Aspiring entrepreneurs being entrepreneurs, there will lots of inarticulate, half-baked presentations that will get shot down in hoots of laughter and scorn.
At the root of this, though, Dragon’s Den could do much to promote and showcase the entrepreneurial evolution of Canada. Through the national TV exposure of the dragons themselves – entrepreneurs as rock stars! – and through the motivation and inspiration potential innovators could receive by seeing the breadth and variety of entrepreneurial projects being carried out across this country.
And if it teaches potential pitchers how to present more effectively, Dragon’s Den will be performing a national public service.
The show’s producers are now busy interviewing and auditioning potential presenters for the show, which tapes in August. If you're interested, there's an open audition in Toronto this Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm. There’ll be another audition soon in Montreal, and perhaps others.
For more details, visit http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/