Crunch Goes the Dragon’s Den


Tech Crunch recently held an interesting conference version of the hit TV show Dragon’s Den (not to be confused with the American knockoff, Sharks Cage). In front of the audience at the Crunch Conference the presenters allowed five businesses to present their web businesses in sixty seconds. The format was similar to the hit show Dragon’s Den where the people on the stage critiqued the business and gave it a score on their presentation. Many of the presenters were investors and or experienced entrepreneurs. The audience got to see the harsh reality that is no holds barred feedback from the Judges. The audience and viewer were given a glimpse into the wild world of fundraising and pitching through this forty-minute video.

The first business (a utility model) was something akin to Skype meets ichat on the web for businesses. Called “phonefromhere.com” the business allowed users to instead of dialing from a website could instantly connect with their website. I guess so they don’t have to pick up a phone. The coding was well done and the product seemed useful although not disruptive. The presentation was poorly executed. The slide didn’t show well the tech savvy CEO sputtered and never really brought to bear what could have been a good model. The business seemed relatively indefensible to me and the revenue model a bit weak. Needless to say he didn’t meet with much praise.

Raffleit.com was the next presenter. This ingenious idea allowed for users to sell their stuff using a raffle system. You affix the price and they break it up into a raffle of smaller segments as tickets. So if you sell your Wii you would ask for $200 dollars. They would sell the tickets for a dollar and some lucky person would walk away with paying $1 dollar for a Wii worth $200 bucks. They also coupled this with some sort of retailer coupons so everyone wins something. The only potential drawback was that this e-tail auction business model could run into some issues with the gambling commission. However their were additional revenues brought up by a judge who thought those ticket holders could probably also be web leads. They won second place in this contest.

IPlatform.com came up next this API based service allowed for total integration of multiple social networks and app building. While the product itself was interesting their archaic business model of a SAAS and licensing business model didn’t win praise from the judges. The judges thought that with this business model the business was only as good and as large as its sales team. A judge brought up a subscription model, which seemed like a good idea to me. Using a freemium model that would allow for much more adoption of this tool.

Diary.com had by far the most desirable domain name of the bunch. However the problem was hey neglected to show the product. Even offering a wide model of hybrid revenue streams seemed to not catch the judge’s praise after not showing the site. The criticism was thick even eliciting a “3” out of ten just for buying a good domain name. The wide variety of business models used from virtual goods to a subscription model and targeted ads was good however. The other great thing is that is targeted 16-24 year old girls and women. That is an underserved market, which was what elicited the modest praise the presentation desired.

Erepublic was the last to go and the winner of the competition however a little bit unfairly one of the judges was an investor. The truth is though that they had the most polished presentation and a great revenue model. They made money off of virtual currency bought at fifty cents on the dollar. The game already had over 35,000 users in beta and was a shoo in for investment (which it already had) and to win. The game was a text based strategy game meant to be played in short amounts of time each day.

It was an interesting video and a very good learning experience. My thought is that shows like Dragon’s Den and mini versions like this are a good way for entrepreneurs such as myself to prepare ourselves for the fundraising experience. The judges all agreed that a curve on Google analytics of traffic and picture help a lot in your presentation.

Watch it yourself here:

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