Archive for Dragons’ Den

Dragons’ Den Series 6 ends

Posted in Noteworthy, TV, Venting with tags , , , , on September 8, 2008 by Apollo

Monday nights have taken a dive from tonight as the sixth series of Dragons’ Den came to an end on BBC2.

The series makes a fascinating insight into the reasons behind making a business investment, and I’m sure those that with genes that programme them to be “employees” rather than “employers” must watch in disbelief each week (if they watch) as so many deserving applicants are turned out of the Den to the words “I’m out”. One example was the inspired, but misguided, effort by one father and son pairing to gain investment in the form of sponsorship for the lad’s motor racing career. While they spoke a good deal, and the initiated not having to place their own cash at risk would probably have wanted to jump at the deal, which promised the investor a sizeable cut of the driver’s future earnings (and gave examples of drivers like Schumacher and Hamilton who have risen to make millions per year), the wily Dragons saw the fundamental flaw in the plan which would have sucked them into further, huge investments in subsequent years in order to make it to that final promised return, IF the lad has fulfilled his championship promise. A look at the BBC’s Dragons’ Den web site comment area showed that many of those offering negative comments on this deal just didn’t get the idea, and couldn’t (and probably never will) comprehend the fundamental basics of a real business investment.

While I’ve been watching Dragons’ Den since series 1, I’d still only claim a basic understanding of their thought processes. I’m getting better, and probably get 90% right when predicting the outcome, but that remaining 10% can still be something of a mystery. I do know where I go wrong in some cases, and that’s when I let myself be ruled by personal bias rather than business logic. For example, just like some of the Dragons’ who pop the phrase “I’m out” almost instantly of someone bring in a proposition that is alien to them, or they object to on ethical grounds, I do the same if something has anything to do with the curse of Celebrity, or Designer Labels. Involvement in either of these areas would make me lose sleep at night, as I consider both to be fundamentally evil, ripping money off people by selling them impossible dreams that only a literal handful of the millions it cons.

Attention will have to shift to Tuesday nights now, and the Abysmal American Inventor series we’re getting on Five now. This is so dreadful it makes compulsive viewing – and is probably a pretty good definition of “car crash TV”. You just keep watching it to see when the disaster will happen.

American Inventor airs over the period of an hour, but the programme could easily be halved in duration if they made it serious. I don’t want to home in any of the individual offerings or I’ll be typing all night, but the show could use the time saved to show us what happened at the exit from the studio – where the men in white coats should be waiting to collect some of the inventors, slip them into jackets with no holes at the ends of their sleeves, and deposit them in rooms with nice, soft, padded wall. They should also stop wasting time with folk who come along with daft ideas, and can provide no other justification for winning the $1 million than that they are broke, are ill, have ill relatives, are dying, or something similar. This reduces it to little more than embarrassing begging. While everyone should have a chance, and – believe it or not I would fight for everyone to have that chance – that right comes with the responsibility of coming along with an invention that is at least partially serious, and that means, for example, not a stick that you insist on calling a wand, and try and convince the judges that they can defend themselves from wild animals with.

It’s a shame there’s so much rubbish in American Inventor. Without it, it would make a pretty good show, instead of something to watch each week for no other reason to see how dire it can be.

The first series managed to end on a serious note, with a device for automatically extiguish Christmas tree fires – I’m not going to go hunting to find out how the current series will end, and can only hope that it manages to come up with something equally worthy, and not a stick, or a song, or…


Dragons Dens Series 6 Ep 1

Posted in Noteworthy, TV with tags , , , , on July 22, 2008 by Apollo

The sixth series of BBC2’s Dragons’ Den kicked off tonight, and managed to deliver the now familiar mix of worthy cases for some funding, together with a dash of hopefuls that have you wondering if there is a team of orderlies in white coats  waiting at the exits with those jackets that are tied shut at the back, and have no holes for the hands to exit the sleeves.

But first, a word about the camera operators – are they ex-Top Gear employees? This programmes, also BBC2, used to suffer from truly atrocious camerawork as the operators seemed to view with one another from week to week to see how could produce the most irritating and intrusive and fades while moving from scene to scene, leaving you eyeballs feeling as if someone had used them to play ping-pong. Dragons’ Den seems to have the same problem now, with jarring step focus changes, odd angles, and unnecessary changes of view. We can only hope the operators are spotted by a music video producer, and moved on quickly.

There’s really one team of cowboys to comment on this week, and its the pair of con artists that turned up caliming to produce water from air. When you’re presented with crap that like from the moment they open their mouths, you know you’ve got trouble, and they went on to prove this in style. They were full of it every time they opened their mouths, even suggesting that producing water by using electricity to condense it by chilling the air was green and environmentally sound – as one of my colleagues used to say when presentations like this started “At least Dick Turpin wore a mask”.

Deborah Meaden– was spot on when she picked on the browbeating techniques of the “super-salesman” and pegged him as a Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman, not only was he willing to admit that he had been such a bully, he was ready to boast about it. You can go find Kirby yourself, I’m not advertising for them. This has to be one of the most reprehensible companies around, and you may remember them for their repeated appearances on That’s Life with Esther Rantzen. As far as selling goes, Kirby’s salesmen had one tool, get in your door and don’t leave until you’ve made a sale, if that means browbeating the customer for hours (the pitch can be 2-3 hours once they’re in)  until they’ve been beaten into submission, then so be it. And the deal is not cheap, neither are Kirby vacuum cleaners, finance is preferable, and they choose area where their victims will need finance to purchase their cleaners at vastly inflated prices – how else would they make their money? They just loved to people to who had no money to sign up for finance, then chase them for payment for years. Then there was the service, or lack of it, as those same folk who were being chased for their payments had no cleaner – once it broke, it was a case of weeks and months for service, if it was ever delivered.

I’m genuinely stunned that anyone standing in front of the Dragons would even admit to being involved with Kirby, worse still, the idiots with the water-from-air machine even described their operation as pyramid selling, and various other reprehensible descriptions too. It’s a wonder the Dragons didn’t call security and have them thrown out on their ears.

I have a special place reserved for people like Mr “super-salesman” – First against the wall when the revolution comes!

I’ve always been amazed to see that a tiny little Kirby shop stays open along the road from me. I only found it by chance some years ago, when I decided to go exploring down streets I don’t usually have a reason to go down. I didn’t even associated it with the Kirby con, and went to have a look in the window, and there were the cleaners, looking as ancient as they ever did. I don’t know if they’ve ever been updated, I haven’t been back for years, but they looked like escapees from the 1940s or thereabouts, as if they just kept churning the same stuff out year after year, until the machinery wears out. While they may be lovely aluminium castings, they have a price tag somewhere in the £800 or more (maybe lots more now since I haven’t come across then for years now) range, for an obsolete machine, to be paid at £10 a week, plus a suitably exorbitant rate of interest. Not a bargain, or even a good deal.

I went into that little shop once, not for anything Kirby of course, but it had a big sign over the window advertising service for a vacuum cleaner I do own – and I was looking for a part after a coin had trashed a blade inside one of its turbine brushes. When I eventually managed to get the less then intelligent girl minding the store to understand I wasn’t in the shop for anything to do with Kirby, but because of the sign, realisation dawned, but I was then informed that “He didn’t do that anymore, but had just left the sign up”.

I’m glad “He” was out that day, or it might have taken me 2 or 3 hours to get back out the door!

Whatever, the chancers were ejected with not a penny, and their plan to fleece their sales staff and customers was more than quickly uncovered.

The participants that won finding in this opening programme weren’t from the usual genres either, so the Dragons may be looking to invest in different areas in the the current economic climate, so it will be interesting to see if this is a one-off, or of the trend continues next week.

On reflection, I think they missed a trick, and should have kept Mr Kirby super-salesman there for another three hours or so, trying to talk his way into the money before they turned him down. He was already sweating buckets just from starting his pitch, and would have melted away to a wee greasy spot, or had a stroke or something if they’d kept him going. He would have deserved it too, for providing a sample machine that hadn’t been properly purged or set up, and was producing cat’s pee for the Dragons to sample.