Listening to Duncan Bannatyne at an event hosted by HSBC Commercial Banking last week, I couldn’t help thinking that this series will probably be the final hurrah for the Feisty Five. Bannatyne, who was in fine form regaling his audience with stories of his deprived Clydebank background (which featured lots of fighting) and entrepreneurial origins (creating a paper round to earn the money to buy a bike), invited guests to look at the accounts for all the investee companies over the years of Dragons’ Den. It’s not happy reading, apparently: according to him, only one is in the black. As for this year’s favourite “Dragon slayer” Levi Roots, Bannatyne was not that impressed. On the tiny margins available from the supermarkets, Roots’ claimed sales of one million bottles of Reggae Reggae sauce will not have lined his pockets with silver, Bannatyne reckoned. There’s no doubt that the standard of business “ideas” has occasionally been woeful this series. And real entrepreneurs are probably wising up that, in a world flush with potential business angel investors, a two-minute humiliation in front of a national TV audience might not be worth the candle. So here’s my prediction. You heard it hear first: farewell the Dragons. (But I wouldn’t bet against Bannatyne and Co reappearing in some new TV format.) PS: for a fresh look at the truly brilliant Levi Roots, take a look at this recent speech at the British Library. I just love his definition of an entrepreneur.
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