Secrets of success on 'Dragons' Den'
Robert Herjavec on what it takes to succeed on hit show "Dragons’ Den."
When Robert Herjavec, one of the Dragons on CBC's "Dragons' Den," is asked how many investments from the hit show have gone on to turn a significant profit, he puts it in perspective.
"The show runs I think in 38 countries," he says. "In the entire world, you can count on one hand the amount of investments that have produced significant results."
Herjavec might be feeling jaded by the "shocking" number of ideas presented to the Dragons that are either total rip-offs or just plain bad, but he's feeling enthusiastic these days about the No. 1 CBC show on which he's starred for six seasons. After all, "Dragons' Den," which is owned by Sony, has parlayed Herjavec, who already has a hugely successful career as an online security software mogul, into something of a celebrity. Herjavec is also a panellist on "Shark Tank," the American version of "Dragons' Den," as well as a book author with the recent release of his autobiography, Driven.
The premise of "Dragons' Den" is simple. Contestants with an entrepreneurial idea go before a panel of rich investors and make a pitch to secure investment in their idea. If the idea is a good one, they may skip away happily with an offer from one or several dragons. And if the offer is a lame one, they risk being ridiculed by investors who spot a con or lame-ass deal. It makes for often hard-to-look-at TV. Herjavec is a kinder dragon, the self-professed "champion for the underdog."
"I think sometimes they cross the line," he says of his fellow dragons. "It's one thing to make fun of an idea. But some of them cross the line when they attack the person, not the idea."
Sometimes, it's the dragons that come away feeling ridiculed. Just recently he and the other dragons got suckered into believing that a pitch for a restaurant concept was unique. They were impressed with it and eager to invest.
"All five of us loved the idea, so we all invest $40,000 or something, I forget. I'm super excited. I think, 'finally, I'm going to make some real money.' "
After the taping, Herjavec got into a cab and was asked about any great new pitches.
"I said, 'Funny you ask, there's this new restaurant concept. It's fantastic. You've never seen anything like it.' And I told him about it.
"He said, 'That's just like this other new restaurant.'
"I said 'no, no. It's brand new.' He said, 'No, it sounds just like this place that just opened.' He drives me over. I walk in and it's the exact same restaurant, in fact better.
"You would be shocked how much that happens."
Herjavec has also noticed how the popularity of the show has attracted a type of contestant who is attracted to publicity more than capital venture.
"The show provides such a big premium to your business, we've become like the 'American Idol' for business in Canada," says Herjavec. "Many of the deals that don't close today don't close because people are after the pure celebrity."
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