(Cross posted at Dragonfly with additional comments)
Five months have passed since the two wonderful days of Calgary auditions in late April, and four months since my Toronto trip to watch actual season two Dragons’ Den taping sessions (real pitches in front of the dragons), I can finally shared with you more of what I felt then and now. Plus my review of episode one.
Before I review the business ideas/pitches and the show, I want to say I have the deepest respect for ALL of the entrepreneurs who came to Dragons’ Den to pitch. Creating businesses with good product ideas are not easy to start with, and pitching in front of many cameras with bright TV lights and being grilled by the Dragons made the pitching many times harder. So I tip my hat to all the participating entrepreneurs.
Now, on to my reviews.
Mastermoves Core Training
The entrepreneur Oswaldo Koch seemed very charismatic on TV during his pitch and the product seems effect and easy to use. But I think I’ve seen variations of this idea 20 years ago already! The QVC’s requirement of having a stock of 5,000 units ultimately made the QVC idea limited risk for QVC and the entrepreneur/investors taking all the risk.
I have to say I am surprised that Dragon Robert Herjavec expressed interest in investing $300K for 100% of the company. Oswaldo should have rushed to take the offer. To me, I have the impression that Oswaldo thought that there are still opportunities to make lots of money on this product (as a result of Robert’s interest). If that was the case, I think Robert might have ultimately done Oswaldo a disservice. Mind you, Robert did have his own money on the table so he must have seen something that I have not seen or not willing to risk.
Like some of the dragons, I was bored by Taylor Moore‘s business idea (even the girls in bikini are cute). Putting aside the idea of having a business that objectifies women, there is not much new here. The similar and more radical idea like “Naked News” (dealing with general news as oppose to tech) have been around for years (since 2000).
Ultimate Sports Puzzles
This enthusiastic husband and wife entrepreneurial team (John and Peggy Milito) has their business since 1996 for 11 years already. The main problem is that John and Peggy haven’t been able to generate interest/sales for the last 11 years and I am afraid they will unlikely be able to turn the business into a profitable one.
In life, successful business people need determination to go through hard times. But I suspect they also have the ability to recognize when is it time to fold a money losing and time consuming business.
I feel really sorry for John and Peggy and wish them all the best.
The fact that the entrepreneurs (Amin Sajan, Sunil Mangal & David Agulni) have successfully sold 700,000 units made the product really interesting to me. And it must be serving some market segment that I am not aware of nor understand (e.g. cycling).
The final offer of 400K for 25% may still seem a bit aggressive but then I don’t have full access to the financial data and business plan, etc.
What interested me the most here is the US Patent they have. US Patent 6612440 is a one-page patent that has one and only one claim for “a banana protective device“. I am not a patent lawyer and I don’t even play one on TV. But I suspect it shouldn’t have been too difficult to generalize the original patent to have its claims cover “fruits” (or even vegetables, or some general terms) and then use banana as an example.
Incidentally, the way the entrepreneur started the pitch with a joke was a really bad idea, IMHO.
Now, for entrepreneurs who are thinking of applying for a patent, I highly recommend viewing this video on how to review a patent application, getting some help and hiring a knowledgeable patent lawyer. The Wikipedia entry “Continuing patent application” is also a good read with some interesting info.
Adult/Baby Toilet Seat
I have the pleasure to meet the entrepreneur Marten Rhead twice (in the Calgary audition and in Toronto). He seems like a nice person. If I remember right, he owns a patent on this idea. What I couldn’t say until the show has been aired is the red flag of the product being in existence for many years and there weren’t the sales figures to prove that it is a viable product.
Oct. 4th Update: See Marten’s feedback in the comment section.
Automatic Closing Fastener
I don’t know these young entrepreneurs (Emily Choi, Sean Bekeschus & Benjamin Cairns) but I felt sorry for them as I think the product idea isn’t a good one.
I met Paul Bertucci (the entrepreneur) in Calgary during audition and Toronto during his pitch. Paul seems like a nice man when I met him. The problem, as I see it, with the goatee guide is that the market size (people who have goatee) is rather small which makes it difficult to sale and distribute it (for a reasonable retail price).
Rockpower – The Solar Powered Rock
I had a small laugh watching Roland Hofer pitched this.
This seems like a lucrative business with really good margins. One major weakness is that there isn’t much intellectual property protection (I don’t think the idea is patentable or defendable in court) at all.
Now, it is nice to see Rhinobag already being sold in Canadian Tire stores (based on their web info). But I don’t see why someone else can’t come up with a competing product and same or better service to take some shares of this nice and lucrative market.
Who said watching TV can’t give you idea to make money?! I actually see some good profit potential and reasonably low barriers to entry.
Hmmm, may be I should buy a Rhinobag myself and try to reverse engineer the business and may be partner with someone! Thats an idea!
My comments & 2 cents on the show itself.
- First of all, I love the show and it is really enjoyable to watch.
- Use of Montage – Nice and compact way of showing us more pitches. The length on them is about right. Of course, some of the entrepreneurs would like to have more time to explain things but I would rather four unsuccessful attempts than one long bad business pitch/idea.
- Use of Music – The music sounds better and less intrusive than last year. Good.
- New website – The new website layout looks nice. Although I kinda miss the old way of commenting right under each business pitches as oppose to have all comments appear in one big long list.
Update: Check out my interviews with the five dragons and the host of Dragons’ Den to get to know them a bit better on a more personal level.