Archive for inventors

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…

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American Inventor

Posted in Noteworthy, Tech, TV with tags , , , on February 26, 2008 by Apollo

LampThanks to those nice people at Virgin1, we’re getting the second seriesĀ  of American Inventor, and it’s not going to disappoint.

First, there is the Panel of Judges:

George Foreman. Duh? A boxer who made his money from bashing people’s brains out and getting a cut of the purse the sight attracted, then making another fortune by getting a cut of the profits made when he allowed his already famous name to be plastered on a less than notable grill that would sell for a lot less if it didn’t need to pay for the label with his name stuck on it. He’s the ‘Nice Guy’.

Some sort of millionaire life coach. A breed I hold in high contempt, as they just massage the egos of the super-rich, and get a wad of cash for doing it. On the back of their famous clients’ names and success, they then sell books, courses, DVDs and other tat, so raking in piles of cash from wannabes.

Things get better when we get to the female section of the panel, and the founder of a range of innovative underwear. She at least earned her wedge by creating and marketing something successfully, even the eventual success probably had more to do with ‘who she knew’ than ‘what it did’.

Then there’s British member (who has already been subject to a racist attack from an unsuccessful candidate), who provides the sensible side of things, and keeps the rest of the panel in check, since although only three Yes votes are needed for success, he can register dissent. He’s not the ‘Nice Guy’. This turns out to be more useful than expected, as Mr Foreman say Yes to just about anything. The other two members of the panel tend to be more realistic.

Coincidentally, BBC7 just finished a short series about the relatively poor deal inventors get in the UK, and it was interesting to compare and contrast the approach taken in the two countries. It’s easy to see that the figures quoted in the BBC programme were sadly accurate, where they reflected on the sad scenario where only 2% of British inventions get anywhere in their own country, and are lost to the country as a potential source of revenue when their inventors take them to America, when they chances of getting financial backing are much, much higher.

The first programme was enlightening, with the American inventions largely being as crazy as this Brit expected (Peter Jones’ face is a picture at times), with the presentation of two psychos in the first offering, with one being escorted from the stage/building when he proved unable to accept the No vote awarded to his ‘wonderful’ idea.

It’s going to be a great series, and there may even be some genuinely innovative ideas emerging.

They may have kept it until last, but the Guardian Angel, invented by real life fireman Greg Chavez, and intended to automatically quench Christmas tree fires, was the clear winner – and put all the other trivial stuff to shame.

It’s almost a pity that the programmes are repeatsin, and we know he will be the eventual winner, but we’ll forget that for now, and just enjoy the show.