The problem with business reality shows

Shark Tank Pictures, Images and Photos
I am a fan of business reality shows Dragon’s Den (Canadian version) and Shark Tank (U.S. version). Both shows are entertaining and showcase new and exciting products and ideas. They also teach viewers lessons about what not to do when starting a business. The “Dragons” or “Sharks” don’t sugar coat the mistakes the contestants have made with their business and this is good for them, as well as, everyone watching on TV. The problem with these shows is that there isn’t nearly enough time to actually make a deal, which is the whole point of these shows.

The contestants go in with an offer to the “Dragons/Sharks” and each of them can decide to decline, accept or counter offer. If any of the investors are interested in the business being proposed, they almost always counter offer. Often times the counter offers will include future royalty agreements and sometimes that number isn’t even mentioned on air. The reality of these shows is that much of the details come afterwards and this is where many business lessons are learned. Unfortunately, the viewers don’t get to see those contracts.

I have heard from past contestants on the show that the details in the contracts are not as good as they seem on TV. The terms are actually not as favourable for the contestants as the shows would have you believe. I don’t know if this is the case with all of them, but certainly with the contestants I spoke with. For those contestants however, the show was well worth their time. They agreed to the “deal” on TV, knowing that a “yes” is not binding until they sign a contract with the details. They then saw the details and declined. The publicity and interest in their business right after the airing of the episode was great for them. The businesses see an instant boost.

These shows are fun to watch and educational to some extent. Just don’t think that you are getting most of the details of the deals from the 10 minutes of air time.