Do The Den’s Dragons actually invest in anything? Techvibes v. CBC – Asking Dragons, Den entrepreneurs for deal data

Wednesday, 2 November, 2011


** Techvibes challenges CBC‘s & Dragons‘ credibility **

As a long time fan (since 2006) of CBC Dragons’ Den, it is painful to see CBC‘s & Dragons‘ investment credibility being questioned in the Techvibes article “The Den’s Dragons didn’t invest in Notewagon after all. But really, do they actually invest in anything?” (emphasis added) which was linked by CBC Facebook Fan Club. Here is an excerpt from the last part of the article (emphasis added),

The second issue is that Dragon’s Den deals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Even in the U.K., critics insist that the show is pure entertainment […] Just because a Dragon or two agrees to give entrepreneurs X number of dollars for a Y stake in the company, it doesn’t mean anything will actually happen after the cameras stop rolling. There’s due diligence and the added fact that Dragon money isn’t always pure.

** Gathering CBC Dragons’ Den Canadian deals data **

In Knowlton’s articleNotewagon is discussed and two UK articles are referenced before Knowlton challenges CBC Dragons’ investment credibility. You see, these questions are not new in UK and Canada. Early this year in March 2011, I was researching for an in-depth article about Dragons’ Den, planning to write about, amongst many topics, the deals the Dragons made on TV vs deals they actually closed. I was able to find some deal data for one dragon Brett Wilson (more on this later). I thought if facts & figures like actual deals closed and by what Dragons vs. TV deals made were published, people’s questions and doubts would have been addressed.

To get my research going, I sent the following questions to CBC Head of Media Relations, Mr. Jeff Keay on March 17,

1) I would like to find out the number of deals the dragons made on air for each of the Dragons’ Den season (including the current).
2) The number of deals the dragons closed after due diligence in each of the season.

I got a prompt reply the next day on March 18 from Jeff saying,

Checking. Back to you soon.

Unfortunately, I got no further respond after followup emails & voice mails to Jeff on March 22 & 28. In fact, Jeff never got back to me. I eventually had to give up on the story.

** Actual Closed Deals data from one Dragon

(former Dragon Brett Wilson) **

As I mentioned before, as far I can find, the only comprehensive actual closed deals data I found were published by former Dragon Brett Wilson. Again, as far as I can tell, no other Dragons have publicly published any actual closed deals data! 

Brett made public the number of deals he has done on TV (60+ deals) in three years, actually closed after due diligence (30 deals) and also the amount of money invested (over $4.5 million) in a Prairie Merchant (Brett’s company) Feb 28th, 2011 press release “Dragon With A Heart Leaves the Den” (emphasis added),

“After three years on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, doing 60 plus deals in the Den and personally committing over $4.5 million in final deals with 30 Canadian entrepreneurs, W. Brett Wilson, the lead deal making Dragon, confirmed today that he will not return for the show’s next season.”

** Deals data from Dragons, CBC Dragons’ Den, or

Den entrepreneurs with TV & actually closed deals **

To me, one way to positively addresses people’s legitimate concerns about “but really, do they actually invest in anything?” is to have the Dragons, CBC, or Den entrepreneurs with TV & actually closed deals to provide deals data (the TV deals vs. what Dragon actually closed what deals, amounts invested & percentage, etc) so that Canadian fans of the show, and potential Den entrepreneurs can have some transparency & credibility back in the Dragons’ Den deals and process itself.

As a long time Dragons’ Den fan (since 2006) and champion of DD even before the show was launched in Canada, I hate to see people lose faith in Dragons’ Den‘s deals and its process. This is the 6th year of CBC Dragons’ Den and lots of Canadian entrepreneurs put their hopes on dreams into the show. Can you imagine if the deals are done on TV by Dragons for show only? And most deals fail to close? Imagine the Dragons ALWAYS can find reasons in due diligence phase to kill deals (small or big), will you still be interested in watching the show?

** Grounding Dragons’ Den popularity

with business facts & figures **

Looking back five years to 2006 when CBC just launched Dragons’ Den, I am still amazed how much Globe & Mail’s reporter John Doyle hated/trashed DD in its infancy even criticizing the set as “dark basement is, you know, dreary.” I will not forget my Oct 3rd and Oct 4th, 2006 articles jumping to DD’s defence when it was still an unproven show, long before DD is popular.

Now, over five years later and CBC Dragons’ Den is successful money making machine for CBC (with all the re-runs), I think fans of the show and potential Canadian Den entrepreneurs deserve to see their favourite show grounded with “actual closed deals” and actual business facts & figures and not just be satisfied by “TV deals”.

Dan Eisner, True North Mortgage

Tuesday, 27 September, 2011

In 2007, I was impressed by Dan Eisner‘s mortgage brokerage business, True North Mortgage, when he described how lucrative and profitable it was when I met him at the Calgary Dragons’ Den audition.

By chance I met Dan again today, and he said he now has 7, yes SEVEN, officies across Canada (2 in Calgary, 2 in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Halifax).

I am happy for Dan. Have a watch of my video interview with Dan Eisner in 2007.

Elle Boetticher, Pro Elvis Jumpsuits, interview at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011

Friday, 24 June, 2011

Elle Boetticher, Pro Elvis Jumpsuits

It was my pleasure to finally meet Elle Boetticher owner of Pro Elvis Jumpsuits in person after watching her pitched on Dragons’ Den and wrote about her business in 2009. The following is my video interview with Elle at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011.

The following are a few highlights of my video interview with Elle,

0:00 Elle talks about her Pro Elvis Jumpsuits business and shows of her products.

0:43 How much did Brett invest and when was it? For the loan, what was the interest rate?

1:42 How was the money (both investment and loan from Brett) used? Read the rest of this entry »

Boomer’s Legacy in Calgary (tonight, June 22nd)

Tuesday, 22 June, 2010

Calgary entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Dragons’ Den investor W. Brett Wilson features a charity each year at his garden party. At the 2010 garden party tonight (June 22nd), the featured charity is Boomer’s Legacy (see also article), a foundation developed to directly aid the women and children of Afghanistan.

You can find more information about Corporal Andrew James Eykelenboom “Boomer” who was killed by a suicide bomber in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan on August 11, 2006.


June 23 Update: Brett’s Garden Party was fun.

me & Brett Wilson

At the same time, the party also had its very solemn moment. I’ve written more about what Maureen (mother of Andrew “Boomer”) told us at the party and what Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay said.

UseMyBank Trademark Opposed? – CBC Dragons’ Den

Wednesday, 3 March, 2010

I am a big fan of CBC Dragons’ Den but passive viewing is not my thing. And when the story is interesting, I like to dig deeper and, over the years, I’ve interviewed Dragons, Dragons’ Den entrepreneurs and conducted followup interviews with the pitching entrepreneurs.

Tonight, after spending sometime (half an hour) of time to research, I was unable to find much external & independent information about UseMyBank (a Season 5, episode 6 pitch) to understand and appreciate their claims of profits on TV and their business.

Anyway, I “naturally” (it is naturally to me) turned to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office to do a trademark database search. (note: the patent search link is on the same CIPO page)

To my surprise, I found that UseMyBank‘s Trademark application (from an online search of “usemybank” or application number 1253705) is currently “opposed” by none other than Bank of Montreal. So I naturally wonder if BMO is doing any business with UseMyBank while BMO is trying to take down its trademark? How about other members of the big 5 banks?

Again, since the business name has been “Used in CANADA since December 12, 2002” (according to the trademark application), and the business has been a success according to the pitch on TV, I am a little surprised for the lack of external & independently verifiable information of it as a business. Any big city Canadian newspapers or magazines available online will help me a lot but I found none.

May be someone can help me here. I am, to say the least, confused about UseMyBank as a business. Can anyone send me links to some external & independent sources of information re UseMyBank?

Note: You can download and read the Trademarks Regulations (current to Feb 2010) here. Of interest are rules 35 – 42.


Mar 4th, 2010, 7:42am Update: Please see followup comments here.

Jan 13th, 2011 Update: Just watched Use My Bank (Brian Crozier & Joseph Iuso) pitched for the second time (season 5, episode 11) on Dragons Den. I can’t say I enjoyed watching their pitch at all because they pitched their business with information (the stacks of business details on paper) only the Dragons got to read and analyze. Seeing Brian & joseph rejecting the $1million for 51% without knowing more about what their business is at now is neither meaningful nor interesting.

Dragons’ Den Season 4 episode 1 review

Thursday, 1 October, 2009
  • Very nice new intro to season 4 Dragons’ Den.
  • Good to see all Dragons back healthy and breathing serious fire!
  • note: I am not going to comment on the non-businesses as the “fun” factor for me to review them has dropped to practically zero. I see little point in beating up ill-thoughtout businesses.

Mistura Beauty

I don’t know much about cosmetic so I won’t comment on Mistura Beauty much other than to say the cosmetic industry is one that takes a lot of marketing and advertising dollars to build and not an easy industry to build a reliable and solid business in. I see Brett has a few other related business and getting into the cosmetic business may make sense to him.

“We Buy Gold”/”The Gold Network” (website??)

Potential problems with Tim Wallis’ “We Buy Gold”/”The Gold Network”:

Trust is one big challenge in this business. Can Mr. Wallis be trusted? I don’t know Tim at all so I don’t know. Can the whole network of retailers be trusted to do the business fairly and honourably? In the age of online social media, it only takes a few bad apples to expose frauds and problems and breaking any public trust. Even Ontario Lottery has problems with its retailers.

May be I am too old school for this type of business but I value my business reputation deeply. So while the “gold” business may be a short run cash machine, it has one major problem. The problem is if some of these “retailers” decide to do business less honest than they should, the financial liabilities will be rest on the well-known Dragons/investors. And if the Dragons/investors wish to keep their reputations intact, they will have to pay up (even legally they don’t need to).


As a reminder for myself, here is a quote about Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) from the Warren Buffett insightful bio Snowball (pg 655),

“We thought they [the LTCM people] were very smart people,” says Munger. “But we were a little leery of the complexity and leverage. We were very leery of being used as a sales lead. We knew others would follow if we got in.” Munger thought Long-Term wanted Berkshire as a “Judas goat.” “The Judas goat led the animals to slaughter in the stockyards,” he says, recalling Omaha. “The goat would live for fifteen years, and of course the animals that followed it would die every day as it betrayed them. Not that we didn’t admire the intellect of the people at Long-Term.”


Friday, 10 July, 2009

Two Dragons from CBC Dragons’ Den are becoming Sharks on ABC. Find out who they are.

I am sure the two DragonSharks will have lots of fun. I just hope the ABC series will do the Dragons’ Den format justice.

P.S. Call me snobbish if you like, I love the original BBC Antiques Roadshow but the US PBS version is just too cheesy for my taste.

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