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Stepping Into The Dragons’ Den

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So, there I am, watching BBC America last night (okay, I really need to move to England so that I can watch the Beeb all the time, but that, perhaps, is another tale) because I heard that a new series, Dragons' Den, would be coming on. I say "new," but as with so many things BBC America airs, I think the show is not so much "new" in terms of just filmed in England in the last few months, but rather "new" in terms of it never having aired in this country or on BBC America previously (like the "new" season of Top Gear that starts come Monday). I think they took to heart the NBC slogan from a few years ago when they aired repeats — "if you haven't seen it, it's new to you" — but that's neither here nor there. New or old, we're talking Dragons' Den today.

It's quite an interesting concept for a show, really — inventors and entrepreneurs come in to talk to five rich investors (the "dragons") and pitch the investors on their business concept. Before meeting with the dragons, the entrepreneurs have to state exactly how much capital they're looking to raise, and for them to get any money, the dragons have to be willing to go at least that high. As an example, last night one team asked for 150,000 pounds, and one of the dragons was willing to throw in 50,000 pounds, but no other dragon wanted a piece, so the deal died.

Even more interesting, the dragons are using their own money, or so we were told. When the dragons invest in a project they get, as one would expect, a percentage of the company in return (hence my believing that it is their own cash). While the previews for the upcoming episodes did make it look like tensions would be increased in the coming weeks, I quite enjoyed the fact that even though sizable chunks of change were being discussed it was all relatively calm. Yes, some of the entrepreneurs lost their cool, but the dragons all seemed heavily focused on the deal and whether the investment was a good one or not.

It's a show that actually made me think quite a lot about the behind the scenes machinations, because I can't believe that these guys, no matter how rich they are, are willing to just thrown down 50,000 or 75,000 pounds or some such amount. They get a little pitch from the entrepreneurs, but it didn't really seem like enough to base investing such huge quantities of cash on.

The dragons are, it seems, in no way required to invest in anyone's ventures over the course of a given episode, nor, it seems, is there a limit to the number of ventures they can participate in. It's not a zero sum game; someone doesn't have to lose for someone else to win, and that's fantastic. That's something we don't really get to see here in this country. Here, there would be a maximum amount of cash the dragons could invest over the course of the season and they'd have to put it all in one company and the entrepreneurs would have to jump through a ring of fire while riding a unicycle with a monkey climbing over their back in order to get the cash. In short, it would be far more similar to American Inventor, which is why that show only lasted two seasons and Dragons' Den is currently on its sixth in England.

Fine, call me an Anglophile or a BBC-phile if you want, you're probably right; but try and tell me I'm wrong about this. We'd do something bigger, but it just wouldn't be any better. You know it and I know it.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • http://childoftv.blogspot.com Brent

    Actually the show originated in Japan and there are versions world wide including Australia, Israel, and The Netherlands. The Canadian version begins its third season in September, and Mark Burnett is working on an American version to be called “The Shark Tank,” I suppose so no one will think it has anything to do with Dungeons & Dragons.