Thursday, March 25, 2010

Be a Dragon for a Day

My column in this week's Financial Post recounts my recent adventure as a deputy dragon, helping to audition entrepreneurs in Toronto who want to pitch their ideas on Dragons’ Den.

The CBC-TV show is now gearing up to tape its fifth season, and there seems no end in sight to resourceful, ambitious entrepreneurs.

But not all of these pitchers deserve funding. Some of their ideas are just bad. How do you help people who have no idea how big their market is? Or who are too shy to call potential customers? Do you become Kevin O’Leary, and forbid them to spend another cent on their ideas?

What’s a Dragon to do?

So my column looks at three of the pitches I heard (revised slightly to protect the guilty), and asks, What would you do?

Ariella, an energetic woman with long blonde hair, wants to create a national franchise that specializes in raking lawns. You'd be amazed how large the market is, she says. Yet leaf-raking businesses tend to be small and unprofessional, with no training and no performance guarantees.
With a nationwide network based on formal training, Ariella contends she can sell consumers on a branded leaf-raking service -- and thus earn fees from franchisees eager to get in on a new service brand. What would you say to her?

You can read the full story here.

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