Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How to win on Dragons' Den

Is it next year already?

CBC TV recently announced the renewal for a second season of Dragons’ Den, the show that enables budding entrepreneurs to pitch for investment cash to a panel of Canadian multimillionaires.

The result made for riveting television last season, a rare show that everyone in the family could watch, enjoy and learn from.

Auditions for “pitchers” (the entrepreneurs seeking funds for their companies or ideas) have already begun. The CBC team is meeting with prospective talent today in Kitchener-Waterloo, and tomorrow (April 12) in London, Ont.

The schedule thereafter:
April 14: Toronto
April 16: Fort McMurray (maybe someone will come up with affordable housing)
April 17: Halifax and Ottawa
April 18: Edmonton
April 18 & 19: Victoria, BC
April 20 & 21: Vancouver and Calgary
April 23: Winnipeg
April 24: Moncton
April 25: Summerside, PEI (huh?)
April 26: Charlottetown, PEI
April 27 & 28: St. John’s, Nfld
April 27 & 28: Montreal
May 5: Toronto.

You can walk in on the auditions, or apply online, or both. (I recommend both.)

A little advice: Practice, practice, practice. Last year’s contestants wasted a lot of precious time, taking way too long to explain their idea, the market, and why anyone else would be interested.

Remember, Rick’s No. 1 Rule of Communication applies: It’s not about you. Focus your presentation on the needs of your audience (ie, five greedy* investors who want to make six times their money back without working very hard). Don't boast about your long hours in the basement working on this stuff. Explain why they need to get in on this, and why you will work hard to make them a lot of money.

The most common mistake people made last year was thinking the dragons wanted to invest in small businesses. They don't. They want to invest in an idea that will become a big business. Unless your idea can offer real growth, don't waste your time. “This isn't a business,” they’ll say. “You're buying yourself a job.”

For more information, forms, and FAQs, see

* They're not such greedy people in real life, of course. They just play them on TV.

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