RTÉ series to woo potential entrepreneurs


Fiery breath: ‘Dragons’ Den’ team seek new business ideas

BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS challenged by the problems facing Irish banks might be offered a reprieve by a group of wealthy investors seeking new business ideas as part of a television series which is to air early next year.

Dragons’ Den will see hopeful entrepreneurs presenting their business plans to five established investors, who will offer capital in return for a stake in the project if the candidate can convince them of its worth.

Five “dragons” with a range of business backgrounds, from the web to construction to retail, have been selected for the RTÉ series.

Each week’s episode will be hosted by Richard Curran, the deputy editor of the Sunday Business Post .

The line-up features Niall O’Farrell of dresswear provider Black Tie, media consultant Gavin Duffy, dotcom millionaire Sarah Newman, construction technology provider Sean Gallagher and Bobby Kerr of the Insomnia Coffee Group.

“At this crucial time for the economy, we will be looking for businesses that are both creative and innovative,” Mr Gallagher said.

He cited technology, sustainable energy and retail as potential areas of interest.

“We need to grow our own batch of budding entrepreneurs and find our own Microsofts, Googles and Facebooks that can establish themselves as world players and there’s no reason why people who come into the den can’t have that potential.”

The show follows a tried and tested format that has proved a success in over a dozen nations since it was first aired by Nippon TV in Japan in 2001.

Each week, a selection of prospective entrepreneurs make a brief presentation of their business ideas to the dragons who, in turn, probe them for development plans and information about the business, before either dismissing or part-financing the proposal.

The dragons will be investing their own money in the projects to which they are attracted, and Mr Duffy said there will be no love lost between them when a good proposal presents itself.

“I want to stress that in there when a good idea does come up I’m not going to let the guys get in ahead of me if I can take it on. And that’s part of the show because we will be competing among ourselves also,” he said.

“If we get the right response from Irish entrepreneurs, we will be helping people at a time when finances are hard to come by.”

The programme is being produced by Screentime Shinawil, which is also behind the TV3 version of The Apprentice series .

“There’s a very strong tradition of enterprise and entrepreneurship in Ireland and I think that is recognised on the world stage,” said Mr O’Farrell.

“I think very many people always harbour the idea of at some stage setting up their own business.”

Would-be entrepreneurs interested in pitching their ideas to the dragons should visit www.rte.ie/dragonsden or call 01-4066433.