Welcome back to another exhilarating season of Dragons' Den! You're reading what we hope will become a best-selling (er, most-read?) new feature on the website. This weekly column will be dedicated to giving you, dear reader, an insiders guide to everything you don't see on the small screen. Written by a variety of producers each week, we'll be answering your questions, de-bunking myths and profiling the men and women who make the show what it is. They say nobody likes to see how the sausage gets made, but we're pretty sure you'll enjoy how Dragons' Den gets to air.
Dragons' Den is a unique forum that truly showcases Canadian entrepreneurship - for better or for worse. But that key word is SHOWCASE.
Yes, venture capitalism is serious business. And entrepreneurs are dead serious about getting cash to grow their business. But if you're coming to The Den to get said cash - as producers, a big part of our job is simply to tell you to BRING IT! And by "it" I mean flair. Pizzazz. A little something extra...TV is a VISUAL medium people, so often you'll need to "Prop up" your presentation.
I say it at auditions, and I explain it again when helping people prep for the show, and I might yell at you when you're ACTUALLY in The Den.. if you have a baby product? BRING A BABY! If you have a pet product? BRING AN ANIMAL! You have a food or drink product? MAKE THEM TASTE IT!
That said, this week's show a prime example of why props work. Puppies. Costumes. Taste tests. Samples. A bold demonstration of a company's unique tactic for teamwork. Even toilets. All of these elements help engage the dragons, give a physical representation of concepts that don't necessarily come in tangible form, and quite possibly make or break deals.
But the insider scoop is that you must clear everything with your producer. While your entire pitch is always a surprise to The Dragons, we need to know almost everything you have planned in The Den. Unfortunately, there are rules. To have puppies and bunnies or any live animal within the CBC building requires a very official process - forms and documents have to be filled out. So if you plan on having live props- give yourself time to get them ok'd.
The Wannawafel cart from episode one, slick vehicles you have yet to see, and even giant monster trucks have to be brought up CBC's extra large freight elevators, must meet measurement requirements to fit through The Den's doors, and must be inspected to make sure nothing is going to explode, leak or burn up in The Den. And then we have to organize with the director the placement of all your props so at least one of our eight studio cameras will capture the essence of your pitch.
And sometimes, despite all this organization, creativity and planning -- props AREN'T helpful. They can cause trouble if you bring an electronic device that suddenly fails to work. Smoke machines don't always make smoke. Sometimes food samples could be cold or less tasty by the time The Dragons ask to try them. Live props, like babies and animals, can poop or cry or misbehave at inopportune times. Sometimes these mishaps are TV magic; Other times? Not so much.
BUT - most of the time, props are worth the trouble they cause. Case in point: six-week-old Siberian huskies. Even the coldest Dragon heart melts when holding an adorable little puppy. And when you see the Siberian huskies fall asleep on the Dragons laps, our lovely production assistants might actually forget that the little gaffers pooped all over the dressing room they were assigned to, and that there was a VERY good chance one of those puppies could have made a REAL mess of Arlene's white blazer!
So if I meet you at auditions next year - you'd best bring props!
Molly Duignan is known as The Den's "border guard" for her uncanny ability to boss people around and tell The Dragons what to do. Molly left her homeland of British Columbia after high school for flatter pastures at the University of Western Ontario. Every summer she moonlighted as a Canadian Customs officer, where she learned quickly how to interrogate people--best witnessed now at Dragons' Den auditions. When she graduated, Molly couldn't fathom getting a "real" job and decided to pack up for the big city of Toronto and Ryerson's journalism program. She started at the CBC more than 6 years ago and hasn't left the building since...Click to read more Tales from the Suites.
Posted on Oct 19, 2010 8:00:00 AM