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It’s quite a simple premise really, a person with a product comes on and simply begs for money. Money that the business Dragons have put up themselves, in fact bundles of it can be seen just sitting on the side desk next to them. The person with an idea stands in front of five highly respected and successful entrepreneurs and presents to them why they should invest in their company. Its really as simple as that, but of course there is a slight sting in the tail as well, to get the requested investment the person presenting has to give away part of their company and effectively in some cases make it joint ownership of the business, usually this is an underestimated percentage and the figure is always lower, not only does this mean the company is valued at a higher rate but also means that negotiations can be started to gain a upper hand in the business and the potential of making some money. Basically making money is the root of the program itself. The investments range from £20,000 right up to £250,000 and its usually the most entertaining that is saved to last in the overall formatting of the program.
I think the BBC have a very good show here and the fact that it has been running for what seems like more than the nine years its actually been on TV, this is due to the continuous repeats on Dave means the show can be watched again and again from the beginning. However with the fact that some of the party of five Dragons just tend to tear the person presenting to bits is quite unfair and this is usually where the “alpha-dragon” Duncan Ballantyne plays up for the camera. He is one of the five faces on the panel and to be honest doesn’t come across at times as someone who I would want to do business with in regards of “buying” his experience and networks to escalate the success of my own business. Although in real life he is an extremely successful businessman, the approach he takes even when the presentation is good and the figures solid does give a certain projection of his character to me and also the acuteness of his body language shows what he is thinking.
The remaining Dragons are made up of Peter Jones whose primary area is retail, Deborah Meaden whose area is mainly leisure, Theo Paphitus who again is mainly in retail and the new Dragon - Hilary Devey, who in my mind is the most friendly of the five and when presenting builds a rapport when them that the others seldom do when asking questions about the business. It goes without saying that the people who arrive to showcase their wares vary in skills that they project as presenters. This is really the catalyst for the way in which they are treated and the manner in which the opportunity goes, it does make good TV to see a person literally wishing the ground would swallow them up with regards to the way in which the time they have spent discussing the product has gone badly due to a single error in their accounting or the fact that the product itself hasn’t been patented, thus leaving the product open to be copied and even bettered. Of course there is even a flipside to this and this involves the offer from the Dragons being denied, I personally love it when this happens as it’s a simple case of the person not wanting to give up his equity in his business. In some cases this has been the better option as the product has been taken up by a number of resellers and made the person a hefty profit in sales. A good example is one from an early series where a puzzle was created and after they rejected the Dragons offer, the product was taken up by Hamleys as well as Tesco and became a best seller. Another example is Reggae Reggae sauce, a home based recipe that was sold at the Notting Hill Carnival by Levi Roots. Now stocked in every major supermarket chain!
Its painfully obvious at time that the Dragons are in this for themselves and the prospect of actually having to go on a show like this frightens me for two reasons. Firstly the fact that I would have to present in front of them, this on its own is something that I would easily label a high risk given the fact the cameras are on them all the time. Secondly, I’m not sure if I would want to deal with them after. Okay they are a shareholder in the company, and they will effectively take over is something that I would find quite claustrophobic in nature!
Also it has to be factored in that you could potentially get a situation where more than one Dragon will bid for the equity as well. This leads to some very interesting conversations that usually ends with the presenter of the product choosing one and the other Dragons reeling at their loss, more often than not verbally but a usual stare at the successful Dragon means a thousand words and it is a case that the person has to leave with the money they asked for or else they leave with nothing!
Afterwards whether the level of success can be measured by failure or receipt of the money as a success, the inventor or owner of the idea is interviewed. With the show presented by Evan Davis, the technique applied to asking questions is simple and usually begins with the question “What happened?” and when asked its usually answered with bewilderment or anger given their lack of experience due to a technicality with a figure on the proposed profits. Although the person that could loosely be called a contestant makes their own destiny with what happens and so they reap what they sew. Okay its sloppy to see that they weren’t prepared, but so funny watching a Dragon go mental with the reply “I’m out!” when they have simply had enough. On the other hand the smiles of success justifiably deserve to be seen. Who usually invests is basically a complete random answer as some invest more while Deborah Meaden rarely invests unless she is strongly tempted with a rock solid offer.
Usually shown on the BBC2 after 9pm, however the last few series have been shown at 8pm with the night of broadcast changing from a Thursday to a Sunday. The show does entertain and the more wacky the idea the more chance of negativity, its usually the really simple ideas that win such as the corrugated piece of clear plastic that allows the beer bottles to be stacked neatly in a fridge without falling over.
Its also nice to see the show follow up the stories that have been created with the investments as well and every once in a while a new show is broadcast to show how they got on. Its interesting to watch as some have managed to get the Dragon their money and others simply folded and moved on.
It’s a simple premise that other countries in the world have bought the rights and produced their own version of the show with some countries showing a quite disrespectful manner towards the contestant whether good or bad.