Dragons’ Den Season 1 Episode 5 Review

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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.

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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”.

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Body Brush by Tad Powaska

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.

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Goody 2 Chews by Shan Jamal

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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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).
  4. 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.

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Monforte Dairy by Ruth Klahsen

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.

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Portable BBQ by Bob Thorndyke

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.

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12 Responses to Dragons’ Den Season 1 Episode 5 Review

  1. Wonder says:

    Don’t forget, they put in the “crazy” inventions for the sake of comedy.
    Its entertainment.
    They need some eccentrics, and that is a good choice by the producers.
    This is not biz-school, its TV.
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    Hi,
    Thanks for your feedback. I respectfully disagree.
    I think we had enough “eccentrics” already from last episode and other episodes. And I would rather see more entrepreneurs who have more plausible businesses. Taking the UK Dragons’ Den as an example, since they have used those wonderful and fun to watch montage showing the edgy or “eccentrics” business concepts. I don’t mind them at all.

    I actually love to see these “fun pitches”. But only at 5-15 seconds max. Definitely *not* 1/6 of a show. It bored me within 5 seconds and it wasn’t “comedy” for me as I felt sorry for the entrepreneur pitching *and* I felt sorry for those with more plausible/viable businesses that didn’t get to pitch on TV.

    I know this is not b-school and it is TV. But I do try to review with a reasonable standard in mind. Just my 2 cents.

    Thanks again for your feedback.

    Cheers,
    Kempton

  2. Do you think it is possible that Ginch Gonch has out-smarted dragon’s den? Thier purpose was never to get investors, but rather free national advertising? If yes, then that was very smart, consumers do not buy underwear worrying about the long term life of the supplier – this show may have given them a good boost in sales. Thier website is clearly setup to make sales!

    Body Brush could be salvaged, but it would be a lot of work. (1) Use a water pressure powered motor instead of an electric one. (2) Make it smaller, a small brush at the bottom to do your feet, a small one higher up to do your back. (3) Make it smaller still – a simple hand-held unit about the size of those hand-held shower heads. I think I will try am make number 3 for my own use.

    Goody 2 Chews: 1.5 miliion! 1.5 million! God, how many small investors would have like to have that to start with? I would say over 75% of the people we see appoaching the dragons would have no need to if they had that type of seed money. Website say local stores sell it, I am going out to try some.

    Monforte Dairy shows the weakness in how investments are handled today. This is the type of business that we really need to grow for the good of us all, but the growth rate is so slow that it is easyier to put the money in the bank and collect interest with far less risks. I don’t see a solution for this problem, government loans are not it either as we all know how the government can mess programs for things like this up. :) She will just have to continue her slow growth I guess. PS – I really like her website.

    Portable BBQ: I missed it, I missed it. I got called away thinking this thing will never sell, only to come back to see a deal being made! What did I miss? I now have to stay up late to watch a repeat show to see what went right for him. No wonder I am still poor :)

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    Hi,

    Thanks for your feedback.

    Re: Ginch Gonch. I think all entrepreneurs want and can use some national exposures, thats why they go on TV! (smile) Of course, I can’t guess what Jason’s motives are. To me, Jason wants some investment but at a much higher than reasonable valuation. That was a real chance for Jason to get some real investments last night. Of course, it will be consistent with my view that Jason is one that dreams big and win big or die hard type of designer/entrepreneur. Both his strength and serious weakness.

    Re: Body Brush. Sorry, this is a non-starter for me. Not rescuable.

    Re: Goody 2 Chews. Yeah, $1.5 million is a lot of money to burn. Building factory (instead of using the entrepreneurial smart to *NOT* build anything) is surely one way to burn money. Matches will be another quick way.

    Re: Monforte Dairy. I will take your word of her interesting website as I never visited it. So at least Ruth gets some national exposure as a result of Dragons’ Den. Great for her.

    Re: Portable BBQ. Yeah, watch the rerun. It was a dream come true for Bob and for many inventors across Canada.

    Cheers,
    Kempton

  3. […] Here are my full review of s01e03. By the way, you can also read my reviews of the first episode (s01-e01) and second episode (s01-e02), fourth episode (s01-e04), and fifth episode (s01-e05). ***************************** Jobloft by Chris Nguyen & Lee Lieu, et. al. […]

  4. […] Here is my full review of Dragons’ Den second episode (s01-e02). By the way, you can also read my reviews of the first episode (s01-e01) and third episode (s01-e03), fourth episode (s01-e04), and fifth episode (s01-e05). *************** […]

  5. […] Here is my full review of s01-e04. If you wish, you can check out my reviews of season one episode number one, two, three, and five. (note: if you haven’t watched them yet, skip them for now and watch the reruns first.) ********************* […]

  6. John Spackman says:

    I watched 3 of the Dragons’ Den episodes and read all of your reviews and what scares me is that most of the entrepreneurs had obviously bad ideas that should not have “have seen the light of day” – let alone get national TV exposure. One has to wonder how bad were the ideas of the other 1700 entrepreneurs who didn’t make the cut for this show.

    As a previous post suggested, maybe the “bloopers” were included just for entertainment value – and not truely as business proposals.

    Question: Were the Dragons involved in the elimination process? Maybe there were a few “diamonds” in the other 1700 entrepreneurs that were dismissed too early.

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    Hi John,

    Thanks for your feedback and interest in my reviews.

    As you have read my reviews, of all the entrepreneurs presented so far, there are only two that I think shouldn’t have been on the programs. All other pitches serves some purposes – learning, entertainment, etc.

    In my humble opinion, the Dragons’ Den producers and Sean have a sensible system to select a balanced group of entrepreneurs to pitch on TV – entertainment vs business. And as an aside, for those super-solid businesses but really boring TV types, Sean has told me that he had sent these businesses to appropriate potential investors for their further considerations. After all, Dragons’ Den is TV and we need to have something that balance out the entertainment and solid businesses.

    Now, after writing the above paragraph, I think my position on the “Body Brush” pitch is changing as after all, I have to say it may be fun to watch for thousands and thousands of viewers. It is just that I am not one of them.

    As I was told, the Dragons were *not* involved in the elimination process from that over 1000 pitches. It would just have taken so much of their time. Plus, and this is much more important. If the Dragons had seen the companies in the selection process, it will completely destroy the spontaneous reactions they have when they see the entrepreneurs and their pitches for the first time. The Dragons actually saw the pitches for the first time as we saw them on TV.

    Now, could there be “diamonds” left in the rough? Of course yes. But then like in a real pitch, it is the entrepreneurs’ task to get through their ideas to whoever are seeing their audition tapes or paper pitches. Plus, remember, some of those boring TV but solid businesses have been sent to the appropriate potential investors for their considerations.

    I hope I’ve answered your questions. And thanks for your comments.

    Cheers,
    Kempton

  7. Anon says:

    Just a comment on the Smart-CD. The power supply can never generate enough power for the microprocessor. If you look at the phsysics behind this idea, as outlined in the patent (line 0022), it breaks the laws of thermodynamics. As the spin speed of the CD is increased to generated power, the CD drive motor will experience more and more force in the opposite direction. (CD motors cannot output that much wattage). Also, once equilibirium is reached, the secondary “outside-disc” will stop spinning once the disc has reached steady state. I don’t believe that anyone with a technical background has helped develop this device. There is no way that this device will work. He may be able to fool some investors, but once you give this to a R&D manager, or engineer, they will immeadiately see these problems. If I were an investor, I would be very skeptical about this technology.

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    Hi Anon,

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight here. I was “skeptical” to say the least when I read the patent. It has to be an engineering marvel to pull all these seemingly impossible stuffs off at $7 per disc. To me, all these sophisticated claims and the low price of less than $7 per disc basically raised so many red flags for me that my office walls are completely red now. (smile)

    If my hero Richard Feynman is still alive, he would have so much fun with this patent and can precisely tell us which part of the patent gets it right (that is, at least, possible) and gets it wrong (that is impossible). I still remember Feynman’s “play”/study of the spinning Cornell logo under a cafeteria dish! Let me quote Evan’s retell of this story (I googled and found Evan’s site quickly) ,

    “And so he [Feynman] moped around the Cornell library looking at co-eds and sat in the cafeteria looking at dinner plates. Specifically he looked at the way the Cornell logo moved on the cafeteria dish as he spun the dish and the logo processed. It occurred to Feynman that it was mathematically interesting to try to describe the motion of the Cornell logo as the plate spun.
    The equations he constructed to describe the plate grew into the drawings on this stamp and became a robust description of electrons, photons, and almost everything around us.

    Cheers,
    Kempton

  8. […] regular readers may remember that I mentioned in a previous blog entry when reviewing a TV show that, And thanks to “2165 The Best Mode Requirement” of the MPEP, the […]

  9. […] remember when I spent 2+ hours to do my due diligence/research on SmartCD (see my season 1 episode 5 review), I wrote as bluntly as I could without getting myself in any potential legal trouble of saying the […]

  10. […] remember when I spent 2+ hours to do my due diligence/research on SmartCD (see my season 1 episode 5 review), I wrote as bluntly as I could without getting myself in any potential legal trouble of saying the […]

  11. […] a Canadian company (Ginch Gonch) and we first heard about the brand/business pitched on CBC TV on Dragons’ Den in 2006. It looks like the company was sold in July 2008. Anyway, good job by the PR team to get Ginch […]

  12. […] more, I’ve found some Securency patents for you to study and learn from. As I wrote in a 2006 article as a side comment, “For the patent geek out there, […] thanks to “2165 The Best Mode Requirement” of […]

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