Why I Hate Dragon’s Den

Why I hate Dragon’s Den


A local journal today glowingly reported that not one, but two local companies had won investment on the Dragon’s Den Canadian “reality” television show. What struck me about the two, apparently best  “winning ideas” from our community, was how utterly mundane they were: an “empty beer bottle handling system” and “illuminated party clothing.”  As an entrepreneur myself, I first need to give respect to the two entrepreneurs who achieved this success with the likes of Kevin O’Leary and the other investors. It is no mean feat and they should be acknowledged and congratulated for it. On the other hand, these are not the kind of ideas that are going to make a major dent in the local or Canadian economy. Meanwhile in Vancouver, two startups, D-Wave and General Fusion are working on Big Ideas that could change our lives.

Dragon’s Den is nothing more than artificially concocted alleged “reality” TV entertainment. In many cases, the “entertainment value” comes at the expense of the entrepreneurs themselves, some of whom should never have been put on television in the first place. IMHO, this is what is fundamentally wrong with Dragon’s Den. It is pure Fantasyland.  My own UBC entrepreneurship students have also developed similar, and very worthy “small business” ideas.  But as worthy on a small-scale as they may be, these ideas do not further any vision or goal of entrepreneurship’s importance to the Canadian economy.   I judged a graduate student entrepreneurship competition this week which was dominated by Web apps. This is happening in the face of overwhelming evidence that there is very little opportunity or investor interest left in Web apps. Someone recently estimated that there will soon be a Billion Web apps out there. Curiously, Dragon’s Den seems to cull out Web apps entirely, though they must see a lot of them, and prefer to broadcast the eccentric entrepreneurs with really wacky ideas because of their entertainment value.

“Entrepreneurship” has become the current fad, garnering TV viewers and advertiser dollars, and simultaneously conveniently ignoring the bigger issues for the Canadian economy.  Large sums of government dollars are being doled out without adequate oversight as to the return on the investment.  I was recently advised by someone to “follow the government dollars” being  thrown at entrepreneurial incubators.  There seems to be no consideration of the importance of Big Ideas, and solving Big Problems.  Just entertainment for entertainment’s sake, viewer ratings and advertising dollars.

Coming from Silicon Valley, the current Canadian entrepreneurship landscape looks to me like a confused overheated and over invested mess to me.  If I were Kevin O’Leary, I would not be able to live with myself on Dragon’s Den. as if giving a shit only for making his own money equates to some greater economic purpose for Canadians. I prefer to chase Big Ideas.


Winfield Man Latest to Do a Deal on Dragons’ Den

Another Okanagan businessman has made a deal in the Dragon’s Den.

Winfield’s Casey Binkley received four offers from the Dragons for his product FastRack that he pitched along with his partner Mitchell Lesbirel.

Casey Binkley (left) and partner Mitchell Lesbirel pitch to the Dragons

The product was invented by Lesbirel to solve the problem that many bars and restaurants have with collecting and clearing their empty bottles after a busy night. Emptying bottles that spill and cause cardboard boxes to tear as the bottles fall out everywhere is a hassle that many in the industry and beyond are familiar with. Lesbirel found a way to solve that problem with a simple plastic rack that allows for draining, easy organization and transfer to cardboard boxes with no mess.

As part of their pitch, the two men ran a fun race that the Dragons participated in as a part of their demonstration of how the product works.

Photo Credit: Facebook

The partners asked the Dragons for $50,000 for 10% of their business and eventually settled on a deal with Jim Treliving. Along with his expertise in the restaurant industry, Treliving offered $50,000 for 5%, 9 months with no royalty, dropping down to 3% after he gained his capital back.

Binkley and FastRack are the second Okanagan company to make a deal with the Dragons in recent weeks, after Kelowna’s Fur Glory appeared on the showwith their special illuminated party clothing.

You can learn more about FastRack on their website and check out their pitch in the video below.