Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Boom or Bust on Dragons' Den

First there were tales of a fifth Beatle, now there’s a fifth Dragon. And he’s fierce - quiet but fierce - which makes him so much fun to watch. But that’s something you already know if you’ve been watching Dragons Den, (Mondays, CBC), and newcomer W. Brett Wilson.

You’d be in good company. Monday night’s episode drew 625,000 viewers, with 395,000 of that in the all-important age 25-54 demo graphic. And almost 700,000 viewers tuned in last week for Dragons’ Den’s third-season premiere. What a show; it’s like Nerd Corps with Cash.

New kid on the block Wilson hails from Calgary, was raised in Saskatchewan, and is a veteran energy industry investment banker. He’s probably the Dragon most likely to be voted “Best Poker Player.” I don’t actually know if he plays poker, but he should with that face, and that’s intended as praise (more or less). The man brings some serious Western Canadian can-do attitude to the program.

I’m a fan, unabashed, and have really enjoyed the first two episodes of the season. So far, some truly interesting, undiscovered Canadian innovators and their projects have come before the Dragons, hoping to score investment dollars to get their projects off the ground. The dynamic between the Dragons has always been competitive, but Wilson’s presence seems to seriously up the ante.

If you watched last night, you saw that one of the most unique pitches ever, two acrobats asking for tour financing. Faster than you can say “Artist Meltdown,” one of the two performers, the one who seemed to have two mouths and not a single ear, had thoroughly angered Dragon Kevin O’Leary -- and earned a terse lecture from Robert Herjavec. All the dragons opted out of doing business with the performers, and then Wilson surprised the panel by offering up some serious Dragon dollars. Who saw that coming?

Some of the inventors’ ideas have been truly creative, such as the teacher from Victoria, BC, with what appears to be an impressive educational software package. She accepted a deal with Arlene Dickinson, aka Diva Dragon. The same can’t really be true of the firefighter who wanted money to refit military tanks as land-lubbing fire bombers. Seriously. You can check out their pitches, and more, at www.cbc.ca/dragonsden.

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