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by Joanna Duong Chang


Bet you’ve never thought about the reality of being on Dragons Den. Ever wonder what really happens to contestants on the show? Scroll down to find out.

From Survivor, to The Bachelor, to Master Chef, to Keeping Up with the Kardashians (or whatever other reality show you won’t admit that you watch), it begs the question, how real is reality TV?  A lot of accounts from past contestants or stars on these shows will tell you – not that real.

Running a successful reality TV show takes a lot of work. Everything from crafting the most suspenseful scenes, to stitching together the perfect story, to creating fights and brawls between characters, all of it comes together to create the addictive content that we watch religiously on a daily or weekly basis. Editors have to sift through hundreds of hours of film and break these giant blocks into minutes and seconds in a way that will keep you hooked from the get-go.

After seeing the show and experiencing Dragons Den firsthand, I knew that it’s inevitable that parts where you look the best or stupidest or most controversial will most likely make the cut onto the show. They may even edit or rearrange the order of what you say in order to make it more entertaining. That’s part of the fun and fear of it I guess – you just don’t know how you’ll be portrayed.

When you get the call from the producers at Dragon’s Den, the hope is that you actually stand a chance against all the other aspiring entrepreneurs – because why else would they call you, right?  Realistically, they want people and ideas that are TV friendly and who they know will swoon their viewers in some way. The show has aired their fair share of pitches, from starry-eyed entrepreneurs to ballsy actors who just wanted a shot at getting their 15 minutes of stardom. And yet from the best to the best, to the worst of the worst, we can all admit that it was entertaining watching each and every one of them.

At The Cocolily Social, an event that I was a facilitator at earlier this year, I was happy to hear a motivational story from  Occasion Giftware’s  Gabriella Mammone, the woman who was crowned by Arlene Dickinson as the worst pitch ever on Dragon’s Den. We all love Dragons’ Den for the business opportunity and entertainment of it, but this was the first time I witnessed the human cost of it all and heard someone speak up about their experience on the show.

Gabriella shared her story – she spoke of her battle with Multiple Scelorsis, dealing with her young children, and overcoming the difficult circumstances she had come across. For the longest time, she had wanted to appear on the show to grow her business and finally cross it off of her bucket list.  Needless to say, it didn’t go well for her. BUT, what inspired me the most was Gabriella’s ability to see the silver lining of it all. Although, she was initially mocked for her pitch, Gabriella not only overcame the anxiety of being on Dragons’ Den, but also realized that simply appearing on the show served as an amazing business opportunity.

When it comes to talking about business – not just on Dragon’s Den – it’s seldom that they know about or accept the struggles, trails, and tribulations behind the scenes. When you watch reality TV, you can only judge a situation based on what you see on screen or what contestants have to say. Realistically, people come in all shapes, sizes, walks of life, industries, experiences, lives, and backgrounds, and the real struggle that initially got them where they are today may not even see the light of day on a reality TV show.

With that in mind, it’s important to remember that other peoples’ perception of you doesn’t affect the outcome and success of what you put out to the universe. There are 5 Dragons on the show, and what they think, buy, or invest in is not the be all and end all.

“There are 5 Dragons on the show and what they think, buy, or invest in is not the be all and end all.”

Although they may be experts in several different fields, they may not understand a particular business’ target market or grasp the potential success of a product. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the Dragons and what they do, however, they are not representative of the entire world outside of the Den! If you love your idea and you’re confident that you can make it happen, there’s nothing that can stop you, not even 5 “no’s” on Dragons’ Den. At the end of the day, no matter what happens on the show, it’s still an amazing business opportunity to have under your belt.

We filmed way back in April and at this point, I still don’t know if I will make it on the show. It leaves me with a lot of time to question whether or not I will make the cut, and if I do, how will I be portrayed? Will it be reality? Or reality TV? Either way, I’m always ready and willing to take my business to the next level, and I’m confident that I can make it happen, whether its with a Dragon or not.



Joanna Duong Chang
Joanna Duong Chang

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