Lately, one of my "addictions" has been the T.V. show "Dragon's Den". Not only is it one of the best Canadian programs out there, but it is... well, one of the best Canadian programs out there. Better than most American shows, that's for sure. Anyway, if you don't know, on the show an entrepreneur (or group of entrepreneurs) pitch their ideas to five wealthy investors and ask for a monetary value (say, $100,000 for 30% of the company). The investors (known as "dragons,") then grill the entrepreneur(s) on their numbers, ask them questions, etc. and (hopefully) make them an offer. Notice I said hopefully.
Not every idea that comes into the den is a good one. In fact, there have been quite a few bad ideas in the den over the years (the show will be entering its sixth season this September). But some ideas are just so abysmal that you have to ask, "Why? Why would anybody think this was a good idea? Why has no one told them that this is a very, very bad idea? Why can't I figure out how to tape things with my VCR? Why does my iPod keep freezing? Why d..." Well, I digress. At any rate, below are the five worst ideas I have ever seen in the den. These are ideas so horribly abysmal, so shockingly bad, so cataclysmically awful that they may have been dreamed up by Michelle Bachman (zing!)
Oh, and these are only pitches from the Canadian version. Sorry, Britain. And Japan.
THE TOP 5 WORST DRAGON'S DEN PITCHES
Without further ado...
5. Ski And Skate
INVENTOR: Giovanna Giancaspro
First on our list of horrible ideas is the terrible Ski And Skate, presented by Giovanna Giancaspro. The product was supposed to provide a new way of teaching children to skate, via a harness strapped to the child which is then controlled by another, taller person (hopefully someone the child knows). It was supposed to be superior to the traditional "leaning on a chair" method. The product, however, was fundamentally flawed- as dragon Jim Trievling (president of the Hockey Canada foundation) pointed out, the reason a chair is used is so you can get used to the action of pushing off. No one skates standing straight up, which is basically what this harness forces the child to do. It was all made worse by the fact that Giovanna'a daughter, who was in the harness during her pitch, couldn't even stand on her own in rollerblades, even after Mrs. Giancaspro had insisted that she could skate.
The really peculiar part is that the product had sold 15,000 units, despite clearly being totally useless (much like Giovanna's disastrous pitch itself). The dragons were furious with her, with Kevin asking her if she thought he was an idiot ("It's basically a dog harness on a child!") and Brett Wilson saying it was a "quirk of nature" that she had sold 15,000 units already. But then again, if Mrs. Giancaspro can honestly think that a product this useless is really helping anyone to learn how to skate, I wouldn't put it past her to "accidentally" add two or three zeroes to the end of her sales figures.
"It really works! Look: if I grab her hard enough, she stands right up!"
INVENTOR: Jonathan Riley
This was a pretty bizarre pitch: computer programmer Jonathan Riley came into the den asking for $30,000 for 50% of his business, called "Fax-To-Email." His premise was that, when you are in a hotel and don't want to pay roaming charges to send e-mail, his service would allow people to fill out a sheet with their e-mail, message, etc., give it to the front desk, who would then fax it to him, whereupon he would manually re-type the message, and e-mail it to the correct address. You could also receive your e-mail by providing him with your password, and basically doing the same thing in reverse. Aside from the fact that Jonathan apparently didn't realize that most people would not be comfortable handing out their password to someone they've never met before, the idea itself was extremely flawed. As Kevin O'Leary pointed out, you could add things to the messages being sent and you, stuck at a hotel, would never know until you got back. But the biggest blow of all came from Robert Herjavec, who asked that if you weren't willing to pay roaming charges on your cellphone, why would you want to pay for the long distance fee on the fax?
Yeah. There's another one for the garbage bin.
3. Pizza Pak
INVENTOR: Ron Fisher
This next idea was so bad that I can't believe anyone with a brain could even seriously consider it. But apparently Ron Fisher from Toronto, Ontario did; so seriously, in fact, that he went on national T.V. asking for $500,000 for 50% of his reusable "Pizza Pak" invention. A polypropylene pizza box (which cost $5.75 a piece, by the way,) this invention was designed to replace the hundreds of thousands of pizza boxes which are put in landfill each year. Fine, but there was one big problem with Ron's plan: how do the companies get the boxes back? Well, he said, they would be returned with the subsequent delivery!
Now, a sixth grader could probably explain to you all the flaws with this insane idea, but since I'm the one typing this, I will. 1) Do you really think people will keep the box lying around until the next time they reorder? 2) What's to stop them for keeping the box? 3) What if they don't ever reorder? 4) What if they lose the box? 5) How do you keep track of them all? The list goes on and on. And that's not even mentioning the fact that you have to wash them every time you want to reuse them, using up water and energy. Wasn't this suppose to be eco-friendly? This idea was so god-awful that Kevin O'Leary proclaimed it: "possibly the worst I've ever seen." Then it was revealed that Ron had spent $80,000 of his own money developing the molds for the product. After some more grilling from the dragons, they all declared themselves out, and as he was leaving Ron said he had, "high hopes for the product." This fired up Robert, who asked what his hopes were based on. Apparently feeling this was the right time to lose his temper (or maybe he was just angry that he blew 80 grand on a terrible idea,) he got pissy at the dragons, claiming they were "feeding off each other." Well, one thing's for sure: Ron's Pizza Pak won't be feeding anyone else anything, hopefully ever. But, unbelievably, this wasn't the worst idea ever seen in the Den: because the only thing worse than a useless product is...
|"Look! It's just like a piece of shit, except it cost me $80,000!"|
2. Marijuana Macaroons
INVENTOR: Adele Sommerfeld
...one that you couldn't sell even if you wanted too. Adele Sommerfeld came to the den asking for... well, you know what, who cares? Her product was so worthless that even if she was letting the Dragons in for free they wouldn't have bothered. Her idea was to put marijuana inside macaroons, which she thought that (legal) customers would prefer over smoking it. Unfortunately, Adele didn't have a license to sell the things, and also didn't have access to the customer base who were legally allowed to smoke marijuana. So she was essentially pitching a cookie to the dragons for some ridiculously enormous dollar sum. What made the whole thing even worse was that Adele herself seemed high throughout the whole presentation, what with her extremely strange speech inflection, odd twitches, and creepy eye stares which permeated the entire pitch. And she even thought it wise to argue with the dragons, saying this was a deal where you either, "go big or go home." All the dragons chose to go home, and none invested in her shitty idea, but not before Robert told her it was, "easily the worst presentation he had seen in three years." Congrats, Adele! However, that was before he saw...
|"They're... uhh.... magical... and...... stuff..."|
1. "Bruce's Juice"
|"Would you trust this man with $2.5 million dollars?" "No."|
...Bruce's Juice. The worst product ever seen on the show, Bruce McBurney attempted to pitch his "Precious Minerals Water" (AKA Bruce's Juice) from his company HiMac Research to the dragons for an enormous $2.5 million for 25%. All his product was was water with purified silver in it. He claimed this water could cure anything it was sprayed on, which he demonstrated with a handy booklet full of misspellings (including pink eye, prostate problems, and skin cancer). Unfortunately for him, the dragons clearly saw through his, as Jim Trieliving put it, bullshit, and rather than an investment, he got a thorough smackdown from all five dragons for being, "a classic snake oil salesman." Robert said he "disgusted him." Jim basically threw him out. And all the while, Bruce was trying to defend himself, saying that he could bring in video testimony, and trying to cite apparent "research" (which wasn't medical) that he had brought with him. For not only trying to sell the dragons water valued at $10 million dollars, but for also trying to claim that water cures cancer, Bruce McBurney holds the honor of having the worst idea and pitch ever seen in the den. You know when your idea is deemed worse than an unusable plastic pizza container and a cookie that you can't sell, you have a really, really, REALLY bad idea. And, in this case, a disgustingly immoral one as well.
Fuck you, Bruce.