Wow, I can’t believe 5 episodes of Dragons’ Den have already been aired. I am going to miss it soon when it is finished (one more episode and 2 more “where-are-they-now” shows). Here is my review of season 1 episode 5.
Ginch Gonch by Jason Sutherland & Michael Flint
I first saw Ginch Gonch in an episode of CBC Fashion File a while ago (months?, years?). Jason, the designer & creative brain, was doing a photo shoot in an exotic location with some cute models of both sexes. Seemed like a cutting edge campaign/ads stuff. At that time, Jason seemed very much of a risk taking, dream big and win big or die hard kind of guy. In that Fashion File episode, I think Jason tried to get some financial support or something arranged to help pay for part of the cost of the photo shoot at the same time as he was shooting. I think he didn’t get what he most wanted (I forgot what). Anyway, as a designer, he seems to know his market well and his designs look cool. And the Dragons seem to think so too.
I won’t repeat Sean’s points on valuation here. Jason and partner just seemed to over valuate their company by a ton.
Ultimately, I think I am a bit conservative. Another issue of investing in a designer is that a great working relationship has to be there. It worries me that Jason’s dream is so extreme that the business will either be very big or the business will crash and burn. Without proper oversight and “a suit”/”bean counter”/”boring business-type” in the mix with some real control and real authority, I am very much afraid it may be the second alternative for Ginch Gonch.
Now, back to the positive side. I love the publicity that Ginch Gonch has already generated (check out the nicely laid out PRESS area in its website). And the extra publicity that Ginch Gonch has now obtained from appearing on Dragons’ Den. I am betting $10 (my usual bet is only a loonie) that Jason has thought of all the publicity that will be generated from appearing on national TV. He is too smart and too slick to not know that. (smile) (this is a complement for Jason)
As a final aside, I’ve watched my share of Fashion File episodes and I think Jason really has some sparks in him. Edgy and cool looking design, seems to have the sales to back it, Jason’s build-in sense and ability to generate publicity, … all these are really cool stuff. And Jason dreams big! Which is also what worries me the most. I think Richard Branson (Virgin group) dreamed big too but I think Richard did it in a much more controlled manner (if that was possible).
Best of luck to the Jason and the Ginch Gonch guys. Jason, I am standing by for your call to invite me to your next photo shoot with those cute models. (big smile)
Aug 10, 2010 Update: Check out this article to see how Ginch Gonch gets to be featured in Jason Priestley’s new show “Call Me Fitz”.
Tad is a nice gentleman. But this invention is so not useful that it is comparable to many of those completely useless Japanese inventions.
No disrespect to the Dragons’ Den production team but I honestly hope and wish that we do have “better” and more plausible business idea than this in the Canadian try-outs for Dragons’ Den. If not for season one, lets hope they show up for season two! After all, this is episode #5 and I think viewers get that some business are non-starters. Mind you, these non-starters are great in tiny 5-10 seconds segments like what the BBC did. Anyways, enough of me complaining.
Shan is a nice gentleman. But at the same time, I have to question the wisdom in spending so much money into building factories. The first round financing of $1.5 million is a lot of money and without much sales to show for. Plus the fickle taste of consumers make this business extremely risky and uninvestable to me.
Mind you, the healthy snack food idea is good but then there are many other healthy choices already and trying to break into the snacks market is not an easy nor cheap venture for the faint of heart.
SmartCD by Arie Ross
First of all, please forgive me for only having a partial review of SmartCD as a proper review will probably take days (if not weeks) to complete and I have only about 2 hours for Arie’s invention and pitch. Given the time limit, the research here is unfortunately limited. But it is still my hope that it will provide a good foundation for further analysis.
On one hand, Arie’s pitch/presentation and too much “self-assurance” left much to be desired. At the same time, I am very intrigued by the technology discussed in Arie’s patent application. And based on unverified information on the company website, Arie seems to have a really strong team of people working with him.
First of all, some dry stuff. Sorry for my directness, SmartCD (Trademarked in US and Canada) is a bad name that mislead people to think it is a CD-only technology when the invention seems to work for DVD, HDVD, etc. For the patent geek out there, the invention is an United States Patent Application 20060062137. This patent is very dense in various technologies. And thanks to “2165 The Best Mode Requirement” of the MPEP, the patent is required to disclose the “best mode” to make this device thus making the patent an interesting read. (smile)
Here are some of my questions about this invention/business:
- Is there a working prototype that the Dragons had actually listened to the music on a disc? If no pro-type has been developed, then this is more like R&D and the risk associated with it will probably make the Dragons not wanting to invest. There can be so many technical challenges to make this thing work and it is definitely not a piece of cake.
- Re: encryption. I read through the 18 occurrences where “encrypt” was mentioned in the patent. Unfortunately, not enough details were given to access the encryption strength because the kind and type of encryption scheme has not been described in the patent. Or am I missing something? Whatever scheme it uses, I just hope it is not something the 23 years old DVD-Jon can break in an afternoon or in a few days. That will be sooooo sad. And thinking out loud at 1am, and IANAL (I am not a lawyer). But doesn’t the “best mode” requirement (the above #2165) require the best mode to be described? Including a candidate for an encryption scheme?
- How much power does the microprocessor or math co-processors on the “SmartCD” use? The stronger the encryption, the more computational intensive it will be (i.e. uses more power and time).
- How much power can the the power cell or the static power generator generates? The really neat or challenging part is that all these things sit on top of a really thin CD that spins at really high speed!
Well, I better stop now and move on to the next one as I’ve spent my 2+ hours on this part of the review. It has been a lot of fun reviewing Arie’s invention and pitch.
Arie, I wish you the best of luck and all the best to you and your team. If you do read this review. I would love to see your reply to some of the above questions. Of course, these are just my 2 cents and I do change my mind and make many mistakes very often.
Ruth came across as passionate about her cheese making business but unfortunately it will be challenging to expand on a deeply handcraft and somewhat time consuming business. And the 10% profit margin also makes the business one that many investors won’t touch.
First of all, Bob is very nice and well presented. And the fact that he got invested by the Jim and Laurence must make thousands of home inventors really excited. Of course, it definitely made Bob and his wife happy. It proves that home inventors can have a good chance of success with getting investment too. For the patent geek out there, you can check out Bob’s United States Patent 6,038,965.
Now, having said all the above, I have to say I am still blind-sided by my gut feeling that a BBQ in the form of a suitcase is just — strange. I just can’t seem to see pass the suitcase and the prototype and jump on the potential millions of people needing a portable BBQ. Ah, it is too late in the night to change my biased mind. (smile)
All the best to Bob, Jim and Laurence.