Entrepreneurs, your time has come!
Producers for the acclaimed CBC reality show “Dragons’ Den” are touring the country, holding auditions for small business entrepreneurs and inventors, to find participants to walk boldly into the dragons’ den. And that tour is coming to Cranbrook, Feb.
On “Dragons’ Den, selected participants pitch business and investment ideas to a panel of five venture capitalists — the Dragons — in the hope of securing business financing and partnerships. Successful pitchers will have a chance to earn real investment — from the Dragons’ own pockets.
Molly Middleton, Senior Producer for “Dragons’ Den, spoke to the Daily Townsman on Thursday, and said the show likes to switch up audition locations from year to year.
“We always try to go to new places — every year we add a couple of different cities and drop other cities,” Middleton said. “If you keep going year after year to the same places you deplete the entrepreneurs, because there’s not that much of a transient population.”
One rewarding aspect of this process, she said, was seeing the breadth of entrepreneurship that exists in this country.
“I have to say after 10 years of Dragons’ Den, you would think we’d have seen it all. But we’re joyously surprised every year that Canada is such an amazing entrepreneurial place. And just when you think there couldn’t be anymore, people come out of everywhere with fantastic ideas.”
The popular show itself has helped bring this adventurous business spirit to the forefront of people’s minds.
“We’re proud to be one of the only such platforms,” Middleton said. “Where else can an entrepreneur — especially in the regional areas outside the big cities — where else can you show off your small business or product on a national level without paying gazillions of dollars for ad time.
“So to have a million Canadians every week watching the show and seeing what’s out there is great exposure for anybody.”
In Cranbrook, auditions take place Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Multipurpose Room at Western Financial Place.
Applications to audition are now available online, at cbc.ca/dragonsden/auditions. “But we always encourage everyone to apply in person,” Middleton said.
The online application and the hard copy application are the same. However, it does take a few minutes to fill out, though, so producers recommend that pitchers do so online in advance of the audition.
Sometimes pitchers may have technical difficulties or only learn of the audition at the last minute and aren’t able to complete the online application. If that’s the case, no problem. Hard copies will available at Western Financial Place on the day of the audition. Everyone with an idea — whether it’s at the concept stage or a full-fledged business — is encouraged to come on out.
Since there’s no RSVP process, the producers can’t tell whose coming, or how many will show up.
“It’s first come first serve,” Middleton said, adding that, to be clear, the Dragons themselves will not there.
“We just like to warn people. Because the magic of the show is that the Dragons don’t know anything about you until you walk down those stairs. So the producers are spread out across the country doing auditions. We set up a little room, and you pitch the producers just like you do to the Dragons.
“We expect that people wil have some form of presentation prepared, and we expect that people will put the same passion and enthusiasm into it in front of the producers as they would in front of the Dragons.”
“Because this is it. You get one shot at pitching to the producers. And then the next time is we will call you and say ‘you’re coming to Toronto.’ And we’ll help you plan your presentation for in front of the Dragons.”
So the pressure is on. But even so, the audition process gives the pitchers a chance to work out their chops, get their presentation into shape.
“At the same time, at least it’s just the producers and not the Dragons,” Middleton said. “If you’re not completely ready, if you don’t know the value of your company, etc, then don’t sweat it. Don’t let that stop you from auditioning. You’ve got nothing to lose by coming out.”
Auditions for “Dragons Den” take place Wednesday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Western Financial Place, 1777 2 St North (Multipurpose Room)
The current Dragons on Dragons Den include:
• Jim Treliving, co-owner of Boston Pizza and Mr. Lube.
• Michael Wekerle, founder and CEO of Difference Capital.
• Joe Mimran, fashion retailer formerly associated with Club Monaco and Joe Fresh
• Manjit Minhas, CEO of Minhas Brewery.
• Michele Romanow, internet entrepreneur.