For all you committed inventors and innovators out there, Dragons’ Den is no doubt one of your favourites TV programmes. Not only do you get to look at some brilliant business and design ideas, there are some epic fails in there every week as well. For budding entrepreneurs it’s an excellent and entertaining way to learn about what works and what doesn’t and, perhaps more importantly, how to present your idea to potential stakeholders in the future.
A Lesson in Getting it Wrong on Patents
In the first episode something happened that would definitely be of interest to those who are regular visitors to the Innovate site. The mother of a 15-year-old young man who had developed a football boot cleaning gadget had spent over £150,000 on intellectual property rights and £40,000 on tooling for the product. This left the Dragons almost speechless that so much money had been spent on what was essentially a small piece of plastic.
Alastair Swanwick ‘s Innovate Managing Director advise: “Firstly you should only apply for a patent in the larger economy countries relevant to the product rather than trying to hit every one. Also take advantage of the UK patent system that allows you to become ”patent pending” while you get initial feedback from buyers/industry before selecting what other countries to extend the patent out”
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Obviously, this is just one thing that you can learn from a programme like Dragons’ Den. People can so often get tied up in their own invention that they don’t make entirely rational or strategic decisions. It can also teach you a lot about pitching your idea to a third party and how you need to come across.
Why is Dragons’ Den so Good?
Contestants get three minutes to pitch their idea in front of 5 wealthy investors who then decide whether they are going to put money into a particular business proposition. The variety of different inventions and ideas is what makes the show so watchable, as is the priceless reaction of some of the Dragons.
In the first three episodes of the current series we’ve had everything from manhole cover keys and wearable maps to a device for cleaning football boots and a new take on pork scratchings. If you’re looking for an insight into product development and want to learn new things about the world of business and how investment works, on both sides, it’s the perfect Sunday night entertainment.
How does it Work?
There are certain rules to abide by in Dragons’ Den. First, contestants have to state their name and the amount of money they are looking for and how much of a share they are willing to give away in their company for that investment. The three-minute pitch is listened to by all the investors and there then follows a question and answer session which is usually the most nerve wracking part of the whole deal. The Dragons can get pretty testy during this part of the presentation.
If all the investors decide they are out, then the inventor or entrepreneur is finished and has to leave. The entrepreneur has to secure the amount of money they were looking for, either from one investor or from several. It can be more than they actually asked for but it can’t be less. Finally, if a deal is struck then it is seen an unwritten agreement between the entrepreneur and the investor but depends on a series of due diligence checks.
We have more information on how to apply to Dragon’s Den here
You can tune into the Dragons’ Den every Sunday night at 9pm on BBC2 or watch it on catch up on the iPlayer.