(Cross posted at Kempton with possible additional readers’ comments)
The following are my brief reviews and comments of the Dragons’ Den Season 2 episode 6 business ideas and pitches.
Dan gave a pretty good presentation of his business in the Dragons’ Den. I am no expert in the mortgage brokerage business (especially retail, what is the rental cost of the high traffic location, etc.) but I have seen other mortgage brokerage businesses being ran successful . What I don’t know is if the business will stay good in a slowed down housing market (e.g. in Calgary) as a Dragons’ Den commentator has commented.
Like another commentator in the Dragons’ Den forum, I am not sure about the structure of the deal. It seems quite harsh to have a 7% interest charge on the “investment” which is basically a convertible bond.
If the business is generating a sizable monthly cash flow, why does it need the $250,000 convertible “investment” from the dragons? Won’t it be cheaper to get a loan from the bank and keep the equity? Or simply grow the business organically. There are not enough details dicussed on TV so I can’t really say much knowledgeably.
By the way, here is Dan’s True North Mortgage blog.
The due diligence process was completed by the end of July and went fairly quickly and smoothly. We were given a letter of intent which very closely matched the offer made on the show. It included investments from Jim, Arlene and Kevin whom offered us a $250,000 debenture (loan) convertible into 50% of the company’s shares at the Dragon’s option.
However, the letter of intent did not include many of the details that we required in order to ensure the ongoing support of the Dragons. [K: ongoing support from the Dragons seem like a fair thing to have, given the level of equity (50%) given away as a means to help grow the business.] We went back to the Dragons numerous times with additional clauses but were repeatedly rebuffed.
Thus, after much deliberation we decided not to go ahead with the deal.
We could not get comfortable with the level of proactive leadership and tangible management support we would receive from the Dragons in the future given the level of equity we were giving up and the very modest valuation the Dragons’ were willing to place on this business. (~0.70 of 2007 EBITDA, for you MBA dudes) [K: 0.7 is of course not an audited number but it seems like a “modest valuation” indeed.]
True North Mortgage continues to grow organically, with a second store scheduled to open in February of 2008 and a third by mid 2008. The new stores will be located in the Calgary downtown core. [K: Growing organically seems like is a good steady approach to take. Not take in too much debt (my bank alternative) too early.]
Dan, as an “MBA dude”, has given a very professional account of what happened after the show which is good for him and important for his business.
In my original analysis, I didn’t have time to write and mention that Dan’s brand is still relatively young (1 year old) and there is not much barrier to entry in the mortgage brokerage (retail) business. In short, the competitions can come fast and in a hurry. But being an “MBA dude”, I am sure he is prepared to deal with the extra business that being on National TV brings. And also the potential arrival of new competitions (in Calgary and other cities). But I think Dan gets this far already because of his business insights so it will be interesting to watch how things go with him in the future.
Good luck Dan.
The entrepreneur bought six beautiful models with him to pitch. Unfortunately, those girls have nothing to do with his business except being pretty and standing beside him during the pitch and on-camera besides him.
A few Dragons mentioned that the UniversityParty.com site was already taken and in the age internet having no border, that is a problem.
And a commentator in the DD forum also mentioned Facebook.com as a competitor in the student space which is quite a valid point.
I enjoying seeing beautiful models on TV, I guess except when they were used only as props and have nothing to do with the business. As an aside, Bikini Weenie from Season one actually would have a perfectly valid reason to bring in pretty models to help her pitch!
This could be a nice niche small business but I have to agree with the Dragons that the current 4-5 weeks wait time for a pair of jeans may be too long a wait. Anyway, the market will be much smaller if the jeans can be delivered in a much more timely manner.
Barking Biscuit Bakery
The dog was really cute. The business could be a nice small niche business if the cost was better controlled while the quality remains high.
In an age of pet food actually killing pets. I think pet owners may be willing to pay more for quality product. I think my friend who has a pet store probably knows a lot more about this.
After all four male dragons (including Laurence) complemented on Janet’s effort but rejected the idea of investing, Arlene’s initial offer of help in time and resources was nice.
But then, I think Laurence saw a market that Janet might be able to serve that a large company like La Senza would not be able to handle in a large chain environment. And by getting another dragon (in this case the marketing expert Arlene) to join in the investment, it also reduce the amount invested while getting another dragon to help.
Pizza Box 2000
The Pizza Box is a nice idea but with a business valuation of $1.25 million on it, I can certainly understand Jim‘s reluctance in investing in something he has little direct knowledge of (without the ability to consult with his more knowledgeable friend first).
Now, the Pizza Box has generated the most discussion in Dragons’ Den forum. Many commentators thought that Jim has lost out on a great deal. I personally don’t think so.
It is the mark of a good business person to invest in a domain that he/she is competent in. Warren Buffet (check out this and this cool video) is well known for not investing in things that he doesn’t understand, and that includes his friend Bill Gates’ Microsoft.
I had the most fun watching this segment. And I think it is a fun game. I think three of the dragons had enough fun to pay about $500 for the hand made toy. (They probably know it was a bit of an expensive hand-made-toy.) But contrary to a few commentators believes, the dragons’ fun don’t make it a viable business selling for $50 each.
I met this nice and enthusiastic entrepreneur in the Calgary auditions. Not much of his pitch was shown and I’ve forgotten about most of his business case. So all I can say is best of luck to the entrepreneur and I hope the national TV exposure helps his business.
Having no idea if this game will be fun for its target audience, I can’t say much about it.
The piece of granite looks nice but unfortunately, I don’t think it makes a good business. And I do agree with some of the dragons that the entrepreneur might have over-spent on developing the product (the machine tooling, etc.?), essentially a piece of thin granite.