Dragons’ Den Season 2 episode 5 review

October 30, 2007

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(Cross posted at Kempton with possible additional readers’ comments)

The following are my brief reviews and comments of the Dragons’ Den Season 2 episode 5 pitches/business ideas.

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Where’s My Stylist

I saw this determined young entrepreneur pitched his business in Calgary twice and then his pitch on TV tonight. Even the entrepreneur was very personable and was quite nice, unfortunately the business and revenue models still need some further development. Plus the valuation of the business was probably a bit too much for most investors.

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Power Zoom Rifle Scope

True, manufacturing the scopes might make more money per unit compare to the revenue from licensing the patent (?) to someone else to make the thing. But there are also so much more risk in all the associated cost. Plus patent litigation is not a fun thing to be part of.

Incidentally, I feel the same as some of the dragons as I have serious problem with the idea of making money from weaponry system. There are simply things that I would rather not make money from. For me, anything to do with guns is a no go for me.

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Cutless Trimming Razor

The multi-billion dollar razor business is a truly cut-throat one. Unfortunately the idea presented by the entrepreneur is simply not a good one in my humble opinion.

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Volila Masala

I think most viewers saw the passion of the entrepreneur during her pitch. But at the same time, passion alone doesn’t make good business. And the matter of fact is that a mostly different set of skills and expertises are required to create a successful TV show as oppose to a spice business. Just my 2 cents.

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Electric Gym Network


Sorry, I simply don’t see much real use of the system. Plus it didn’t help that the demo unit failed during the entrepreneur’s pitch.

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Lucid Air Pack

Thinking a little more about the product. I hope well placed and sensitive smoke detectors will eliminate most of the need for this product. I don’t know, I probably won’t buy one.

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Pony Shoes

I admire the entrepreneurs of trying. But unfortunately, the game doesn’t seem to be much fun when the dragons played it.

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Lit Cosmetics Inc.

Based on Jodie’s sales number, looks like she has a nice business for her. But I agree with the dragons that cosmetics is a capital intensive business and the marketing budget to promote a new brand can easily be much more than the $200,000 being asked for. I guess to get the business to a large scale that will interest the Dragons as an investment, much more money than $200K will be needed.

FYI: Here is an Oct. 26 article about Lit Cosmetics in Calgary Herald.

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Naturpack

It was truly disappointing that the entrepreneurs did not choose to reveal openly that the patent is owned by someone or some company in Germany and not by the entrepreneurs. That was a truly unfortunate 30 minutes of mis-communicating a crucial piece of information.

More details of the current legal arrangement between the inventor and these entrepreneurs will need to be known first before any further analysis can be done.

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Kinclomat

Sorry, I simply can’t get pass the idea of paying anywhere near $3,400 for 9 (?) exercise mats. It will definitely take Arlene some marketing and advertising magic to help the entrepreneurs to get the right niche customers to part with that kind money — $3,400. Wow. OK, professional sports team, specialized private hospital in US, may be. Home users? I am not sure. Arlene probably know something that I don’t.

Now, the other issues include whether the patent application is strong enough? Will the patent likely be granted? Are there existing prior art on this that the US patent office may have missed? These and many other questions will really depend on the patent application and I don’t have any information on that at the moment.


Congrats to JobLoft for being acquired by onTargetjobs

October 29, 2007

(Cross posted at Kempton with possible additional readers’ comments)

I like to congratulate JobLoft.com, last year’s Dragons’ Den sensation, for being acquired by onTargetjobs (terms of deal undisclosed (all cash? all shares? Or a combination?)). Here is an excerpt from their press release (emphasis mine),

Vancouver, Canada, October 29, 2007 – Hcareers, the leading online job board for the hospitality industry worldwide, announced today that its parent company, onTargetjobs, has acquired the assets of JobLoft.com, a cutting edge hospitality and retail job board located in Toronto, Canada. The combined companies now hold the number one spot as the dominant provider of online recruitment solutions for the hospitality industry.

The addition of JobLoft.com into the onTargetjobs family of job boards reaffirms onTargetjobs’ commitment to hospitality recruitment professionals and jobseekers worldwide, both in the hourly and managerial markets. JobLoft.com’s concentration on the hourly jobseeker looking for local jobs coupled with Hcareers’ worldwide reach and industry presence enables Hcareers to provide a more holistic solution to its hospitality, restaurant and foodservice clients.

I first noticed the guys in the orange ties (Chris Nguyen, Lee Lieu, et. al.) in July 2006 and then I reviewed their deal and pitch in Oct 2006 after their episode was aired. I then blogged about their deal that got away, and some more here, here (with video of the cheque tearing), and here.

So I have been following the JobLoft guys on-and-off for over 15 months. Setting aside the harsh words that I used in talking about how the guys broke up the agreed deal (my focus was never on the terms of the deal itself), I am really happy for Chris Nguyen, Lee Lieu, et. al. and truly hope the terms of their deal were great for them. I bet Chris, Lee and others had worked so hard after the Dragons’ Den deal felt apart on air.

To the JobLoft gang — Congrats and hope we will hear more from you. We have lots to learn from your experience.

[via Sean Wise]


Dragons’ Den news to share

October 29, 2007

Found some Dragons’ Den news to share with you.

Vancouver entrepreneur Dean Lane of Add-vanced Bottle System talks about his square bottle business in Vancouver Sun. Here is an excerpt (emphasis mine),

Lane said he found the experience on the CBC show intimidating at first and then frustrating as he tried to explain that his idea truly works.

“A lot of people look at my product and think it’s just so simple and too good to be true,” he said. “I had to explain there were engineering reasons why this bottle hadn’t been produced before. The hardest part was getting the recess in the bottom of the bottle.

Lane also said his appearance on the show wasn’t just about the money.

“It’s not always just about selling your shares — it’s who you sell your shares to and what they can do for the company,” he said. “When [Treliving] told me he had restaurants all across the U.S. and Canada, that made me think because that could be a good fit.”

The $350,000-deal hasn’t taken place yet as both sides are in a due diligence phase to examine all aspects of the potential arrangement.

Check out this collection of Dragons’ Den updates, Q&A, etc. at Canadian Business. A really good read.

Here is an excerpt from a Hollywood Reporter piece,

The second-season opener for “Dragon’s Den,” an “Apprentice”-style reality TV series, drew 389,000 viewers — up from 219,000 for its debut episode in fall 2006 — before rising last week to 461,000.

CBC executive director of network programming Kirstine Layfield said Monday that the sophomore series initially grew their ratings last year, and she predicted they will continue to do so this season with positive word-of-mouth.

“Take ‘Dragon’s Den.’ People needed to know what it was,” she said. “Word-of-mouth and reviews helps tell them.”

Well, blog about Dragons’ Den, tell our friends and colleagues about Dragons’ Den, lets do what we can to spread the words of Dragons’ Den. (big smile)

One last piece of news from London Free Press,

Dragon Jim Treliving was real nice to do CBC a favour by using his private plane to fly “a group of Los Angeles-based actors [K: including Howie Mandel] — some of them Gemini nominees and some of them presenters — to the Saskatchewan capital because there’s no direct flight between L.A. and Regina.

Note: I actually got to like Howie Mandel from watching him in a series of Boston Pizza ads before he got famous again in Deal or No Deal. May be it is time to bring back Howie’s Boston Pizza ads? (smile)

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Oct 29 update: Arlene Dickinson was named #13 in top Canadian women entrepreneur list by Profit magazine. [via Sean Wise]


Dragons’ Den Season 2 episode 4 review

October 22, 2007

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(Cross posted at Kempton with possible additional readers’ comments)

The following are my brief reviews and comments on the Dragons’ Den Season 2 episode 4 pitches/ideas.

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Add-vanced Bottle System – by Dean Lane

I think I am warming up to the potential of this business (especially for licensing the patent to big water companies like Coke or Pepsi). Check out the pictures Dean has at his site here and here. Water is a big business these days (even though I am against drinking bottled water in Canadian cities for environmental reason). And the patent doesn’t limit the application to water/liquid, the bottles can be for anything.

Dean’s idea of manufacturing the bottles himself is misguided and I am sure Jim will be able to guide Dean to the right direction of seeing the benefits of licensing the patent and avoided all the related manufacturing headaches.

I will try to take a look of Dean’s US patent application 20070114200 when I find sometime. I welcome other Dragons’ Den patent geeks out there to take a look of the application and add your insight to the forum or email me.

Now, I am not a lawyer. And I don’t even play a patent lawyer on TV. But a word of advice for those that are reading patent/patent app for the first time. The Claims are the ones with true legal power. The “DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE BEST MODE AND PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION” section is a great read for the fact that patent regulations required the inventor to disclose the best mode (i.e. the best known way to make that thingy). One can learn a lot from this section. Plus if the inventor chose not to tell you the best mode, there are some nasty consequence for the inventor. The idea of a patent is the inventor disclose their “magic”, in exchange of having exclusive patent protections for X number of years.

Oct 29th update: Here is a Vancouver Sun article about Dean’s business.

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Anivac

I had the pleasure to watch this couple pitched live in June in Toronto. And many of their family members (including their son and daughter) were right outside the Dragons’ Den set supporting them.

Now, I am no expert in the horses or dogs/pets market, but I sure hope they take the advices from the Dragons and expand to include dog care, etc.

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Coretection

I don’t know much about the potential market for sports wear so I don’t have much to say. But I think it was a really bad idea for the entrepreneur to strip to show his product. If there is a real need, then hire a model for a day.

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Baby Kaede Clothing Company – (note: for some reason, this website crashed my Firefox browser)

The baby clothing looks cute but it is probably a niche market, not ready for investment given the existing business.

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Home Safe Environmental Testing

Laurence has it right on. We live in a world of technologies and will have to accept some level of risk to function normally. Excessive worry is not a good idea and unfortunately, this product counts on our fears (legitimate or not).

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The Stair Walker

I have to agree with the dragons that there is indeed potential risk if the system fails to work properly. There is an issue of potential product liability here.

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Obbi, Leisure Skates, Cold Buddy

These business pitches were ok to watch in a montage but not quite ready for business investment.

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Finally, I understand the “Purolator Lesson from The Den” makes CBC some good money. But these so-called “lessons” are getting to be rather weak and not fun to watch at all. Any chance to seriously improve them? I started to flip channel the moment I saw these “lessons”. CBC, please help.


New chat with Atomic Tea’s Jessica & Russell Bohrson (Post-Dragons’ Den)

October 20, 2007

(note: This post is cross-posted at Kempton with potential additional comments.)

I’ve planned for months to do a post-Dragons’ Den interview with the Jessica and Russell and I am glad I waited for four more days after they pitched *atomic on national TV on Monday. (See my chat with them four months ago here.) I am glad because I was able to get a sense of how people feel after they watched the *atomic pitch. And I ended up asking the Jessica and Russell some of the questions raised by a few Dragons’ Den forum commentators.

For example, I asked how do they feel about the controversies about their deal being drastically changed by one of the dragon? To me, their answers showed great maturity and the ability to look at the big piture.

I also asked them about people saying stuff like “bubble tea is nothing new“. Again, they gave a very insightful answer. Watch how they explain in their own words. [Hint: Will you say the multi-billion Starbucks is copying the business of coffee?]

Here are some tidbits of information and observation that you might find interesting (well, I certainly did),

  1. 2-atomic — Do you know that their store phone number in Calgary 228-6642 actually spells out 2-atomic ? Isn’t that cool? (Just match it to your telephone keypad and you will see.) And they got this number for free because the previous owner of this number was using it as an infrequently used smart ring and was really kind. Incidentally, as a return favour (and a karma thing), Jessica bought them a small gift to say thank.
  2. ArleneArlene has visited their store, tried the drinks, and she loves it. Jessica and Russell have also visited Arlene’s Calgary office and really admire the hard working and nice Dragon.
  3. Kiosk — To get a kiosk for *atomic, they actually went to get help from some industrial design students at University of Calgary to make the kiosk easier to use and more ergonomic. On the big scheme of things, this may be a small thing. At the same time, this is paying attention to details (like the phone number 2-atomic). Attention to details is something that is integral with what I call “Relentless Pursuit of Excellence“.

Finally, I hope you will enjoy the video chat (click to view in larger window) as much as I in talking to the wonderful and hard working Jessica and Russell. (Join their Facebook group here.)

(note: Jessica and Russell will appreciate very much if any Dragons’ Den or *atomic fans can post *atomic’s Dragons’ Den pitch on YouTube.)


What’s Atomic Tea taste like?

October 19, 2007


Today, while I was waiting to chat with Jessica and Russell (video to be posted later), I decided to interview some *atomic customers and let them tell you their choices of *atomic tea and may be address one common CBC Dragons’ Den forum question from outside of Calgary — What’s Atomic Tea taste like?

These interviews are uncut and unedited, and the customers were free to say how they feel. Overall, they quite like the taste of *atomic tea.

Nadine and Flora were my first interview subjects, and they were nice to agree to the interview and let me walk from outside of the store to interview them to add a bit of cinema and context. (smile)

And then I chatted with Calgarians Tony, Jenny, Angel, and Richard.

Next I chatted with some visiting guests from Northern Ontario John, Marty, and their son (I missed his name due to some background noise).

Finally, I chatted with one of the biggest fan of *atomic Tina (she has been a loyal customers for 21.5 months). Her story is especially interesting as, I think, it illustrates part of the operating philosophy of *atomic.


Season 2 Episode 3 pitches on YouTube

October 19, 2007

Some hardcore CBC Dragons’ Den lovers have decided to upload some of the Season 2 Episode 3 pitches onto YouTube so those missed the pitches (and the re-runs) can watch them. “wickedmonkey”, a Dragons’ Den forum member, was kind enough to find these videos and share the results with us.

Oct 23 update: I found the *atomic pitch and I’ve added it here.

*atomic Tea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-oHUWN7Lac

Fanware: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpO2Yla8Kmc

Reality Check: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isNjr6OFbyc

Ralph Clipalski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eVEVPO5Y_o