HD, PVRs and flat screens, oh my! The boob tube sure has changed since the days when I had to get off the couch and turn a dial in order to switch stations.
One innovation to our favourite national pastime includes social TV – connecting viewers who aren’t watching on the same set. Ever shouted something at the TV? With a smartphone at hand, you can instantly share your thoughts with everyone else watching the same program. Think events like the Super Bowl, Royal Wedding or Oscars. No need to wait for the fashion critics to weigh in, when Angie’s Right Leg is news instantaneously.
TV networks themselves have figured out that people want to share their feelings when they’re watching their favourite shows. The folks at Dragons’ Den successfully tapped into this trend this season, by live-tweeting. When a new episode of the show aired (in any time zone), you could find yourself in witty repartee with Jim Treliving, Arlene Dickinson or Kevin O’Leary; you could chat with producers of the show; or you could trade banter with other fans. Admittedly, Dragons’ Den is the only show I watch live, for this reason. It's really fun to listen in on the conversations, and to be a part of it too.
With 86% of Americans using their phones while watching TV, this trend isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. So give it a try. You don’t need to be alone with your thoughts anymore.
Last week was the final episode of pitching on Season 6 of the Dragons’ Den. If you missed an episode, you can catch it online. And if you think you can slay the Dragons on Season 7, there are still a few days to audition.
The main reason I love Dragons’ Den is because Canadian entrepreneurs offer us tangible business lessons week after week. After each episode this season, I have written about a lesson learned–for better or for worse–from an entrepreneur who pitched the Dragons.
As for the Dragons, though they often see eye-to-eye, sometimes they just don’t. Kevin O’Leary definitely has a Gordon-Gekko-Greed-is-Good schtick, and Arlene Dickinson is widely regarded as “the nice Dragon” (although, I don’t think it’s a schtick). These two often agree to disagree.
But not this week. The Martins, a married couple from B.C., pitched a product that drove a serious wedge between Kevin and Arlene. Although all five Dragons agreed that My Ventex, a toilet fan system that removes bacteria and odour, is a good product, they disagreed about how to move forward. Kevin only cared that the company wasn’t making money. Arlene, having personally pulled herself out of poverty, wanted to see these entrepreneurs continue to follow their dream. When Kevin berated Arlene, she got mad and walked off the set. Kevin stated that he’s, “Tired of Arlene telling people they can do it.”
Bruce Croxon said, “You guys are fighting like an old married couple.”
So, this week’s lesson comes not from the pitchers on Dragons’ Den, but from the Dragons themselves. Even if you don’t agree with your colleagues, you need to respect them. The alternative is just too nasty.
When people ask Danielle and me how our partnership at Admiral Road has survived 10+ years, we can distil it down to something very simple. In our partnership, we have a perfect track record of never going to bed angry. (I wish I could say the same thing about my marriage!) If we have a disagreement, we still have to deal with each other the next day (and the next and the next). So, if something has built up, it needs to be sorted out. If that means late night phone calls (or a teary conversation in the produce section of Loblaws), then so be it. It sure beats living with a tension that just gnaws away at you.
Have you had a fight with a work colleague? How did you resolve it?
You know the saying, “You only have one chance to make a first impression”? When Jeff Phillips walked into the Dragons' Den tonight, I was thinking exacty same thing the Dragons were: What a joke. Phillips was sporting his product, the Beardo, a toque with a detachable beard meant to keep skiers and snowboarders cozy on the slopes. Eyeballs rolled. He looked like Charles Manson.
Then Phillips, an English teacher, took off the hat and got down to business. In the five months since launching his company he sold almost $100,000 worth of Beardos. His margins are great: The product costs $6.50 to manufacture and he sells them for about $40. He operates the business online.
Phillips has promoted the Beardo entirely on his own. He’s advertised on Facebook, appeared in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the Marilyn Denis Show, Breakfast Television and more.
At $180,000 for 25% of his company, the Dragons didn’t see investment opportunity in Beardo Wear, but it wasn’t all bad news. Kevin O’Leary and Jim Treliving both loved the idea. Robert Herjavec said his snowboarding son and his friends would wear them.
But it was Arlene Dickinson who summed up this pitch the best. She said, “When you came out I thought this was just a joke. And you completely turned me around in terms of the great business idea. Awesome entreprepreneur. I think you’re going to do well. You don’t need our money. The business will take off on its own.”
You can’t judge a book by its cover, can you? Tonight’s episode of Dragons’ Den was a good reminder that lesson. Entrepreneurs are interesting folks, so it might just take a minute to see what’s really hiding under that beard.