Dragons’ Den stars on how the show shaped them as VCs
Four of the Dragons discuss investing perspectives and the ones that got away
Four Dragons describe how being on the show has shaped them, and confess whether or not they have any regrets.
Co-founder and president of Clearco (formerly Clearblanc)
Season 10 to present
“When I met Mike [McNaught] and Will [Thompson] from RVezy and Marc [Lafleur] from Trulocal in the Den, I sensed straight away they were smart operators and I knew I had to invest in them. Trulocal was acquired by Emerge [Commerce Ltd.] for $17 million and RVezy has grown tremendously during the pandemic.”
“Becoming a Canadian unicorn this year has been a career high for sure. We knew there had to be an alternative to VC funding and it’s been amazing to see how much what we’ve built resonated with founders of all sizes. There have been lots of mistakes and failures along the way. Moving from funding vacation rentals to e-commerce businesses was a hard decision at the time but ultimately we would not be where we are today without going through that tough period of change.”
CEO of Cinémas Guzzo
Season 13 to present
“[Being on the show] has helped me communicate to a wider audience my accomplishments and how I got to where I am today. I only take on projects that resonate with me, and that will never change. I genuinely enjoy every experience, but what’s of equal importance is the opportunity to share my words of advice with young entrepreneurs and help them along their journey as they look to become successful entrepreneurs as well.
Not just entertainment
“The show is not just entertaining, it also provides real guidance and mentoring to people who are truly trying to get somewhere. As with all of the Dragons, we invest our time, not just our money; and we partake not just for the show, but because we care and take a stake in some of the businesses. The show has been an amazing experience for me but it has not changed the way I do things from a business perspective. While it is nice to have new ideas presented to me within a TV show setting, I am still very thorough in my research and due diligence.
Risk factor and ROI
“The producers find a broad range of entrepreneurs with ideas of products and services, and as I am always looking to take on new challenges and turn them into something fruitful, I find that invigorating. Having said that, I rigorously evaluate each opportunity and weigh in the risk factor and the return on my investment before making any commitment.”
Fashion designer and creator of Joe Fresh
Season 10 to 12
The need for speed
Backing the person over the idea
“I don’t regret any of the decisions made as they all contribute to the whole. Where I backed an individual over the idea, I performed better. Great entrepreneurs are tenacious, have a knack for raising money, attracting great people and pivoting when necessary.”
Co-founder of Round 13 Capital
Season 6 to 8
“My experience on the Den did not lead to any fundamental change in my investing approach but it did reaffirm to me that ideas are plentiful, people and teams that can truly make it happen are rare. I have made no dramatic changes to my approach. I don’t look back much on ‘the ones that got away’ because there is always today and hopefully tomorrow that keep me busy enough. Our country is full of opportunity.”