Everything Yellowknife

I survived the Dragon’s Den! Tips for those auditioning

3 years ago I needed about $50,000 to take my business to the next level, so when I heard Dragon’s Den was coming to Vancouver (my home then) I decided to audition.

Suffice it to say, they scorched me!  I didn’t make the show — but it was a worthwhile experience, and nothing ventured, nothing gained, non?

So now they’re coming to Yellowknife (and I STILL REMEMBER THE EXCEPTIONALLY MEAN PRODUCER WHO HARANGUED AUDITIONED ME and I kept my “MEAN PEOPLE SUCK” t-shirt for PRECISELY THE DAY WE’D MEET AGAIN.)  (oops. pardon me.  I digress).

So now they’re coming to Yellowknife and I hear a few good folks are giving it a shot.  Here are the tips I gleaned after I recovered from my char-ring:

  1. If you have it in you to be an entrepreneur, you have it in you to pitch to them.  So if you’re on the fence about auditioning, get off the fence and go for it.
  2. Remember this is first and foremost *a TV show*, meant to entertain and draw a viewing audience, not first and foremost a reasonable forum in which to obtain venture capital.  Don’t expect it to be like a livelier version of a conversation with your banker.  It’s an entirely different beast.  Again:  they’re seeking entertainment value.
  3. You may get ripped to shreds.  I was (my biggest mistake:  asking too little).   I held it together, admirably I thought, through the experience itself, but on the walk home, it was a whole other story, let me tell you.  Thank God for cell phones and friends and daschunds who love me in all circumstances.   If you get scorched, you’re in good company, not just with me, but thousands of other Canadians with the guts to give it a shot.  (Call me.  I’ll buy you a beer in sympathy.)
  4. In my opinion, the investors are looking for:
  • Tangible goods (I don’t know this, I’ve just noticed on TV folks are showing Goods, not Services)
  • That you’ve personally invested (if you haven’t, why should they?)
  • That you’ve already made a fair number of sales (gives a clue that people actually want your stuff)
  • That you come across as a good business person, not simply someone who’s clever enough to have invented a new product
  • A product that’s scalable, fast.  They want to make a quick return on their investment, not slowly build up a company

Their website spells a lot out, so spend a lot of time there.

The experience will force you to clarify a number of key components of a good business.  If nothing else, that’s always a good thing.  And if you make it to the show —   WOW! — getting the investment is only the icing on the cake.  That kind of exposure, even if they publicly humiliate grill you will probably yield good things.

The last bit of my story is this:  on the same day, a pal of mine made his pitch for a sweet little tool kit. He got turned down the first time he auditioned, but the second time, he took it all.the.way  – got over $500,000 plus Debbie Travis promised to market it.

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Nancy Zimmerman

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