I have to say that I quite like the idea of a dragons' den made up of distributors where emerging vendors come to pitch their wares. In fact, as a concept, I think that I might like it more than Dragons' Den itself, even if I’m not completely convinced by the Channel Dragons name that’s been given to it. What about Distribution Dragons? It would be alliterative, for a start. Anyway, getting rid of the word Den is a good move because that’s quite intimidating, which might be good for telly but not really for business.
To be honest, I’m not an avid watcher of Dragons' Den and I doubt that Channel Dragons could offer much impetus for changes in the viewing habits in the MacInnes household. But one thing Channel Dragons does have in its favour is that it has well-defined parameters. Anyone on the panel knows that anyone who comes in to present to it represents a vendor interested in finding a distribution partner. And despite what we hear about the variety and scale of the IT industry, it’s still bound to be less diverse in range than the TV programme.
It’s also going to be a lot less hostile which is a good thing. Also, a lot of the work will have done beforehand by The [Tech] Crowd which will put the vendor candidates through a lengthy qualification process that covers areas such as market position, USPs, commercial attractiveness and production and logistical readiness. As [Tech] Crowd managing director James Plumridge says: “We do plenty of research on trends and potential players in each market, extensive due diligence on vendors to make sure they are commercially ready for the UK, so by the time we get them in front of the distributors we are in a position to give them all the information they will need.”
So I guess the distributor dragons won’t really have to do all that much except sit there, listen to the pitch and decide whether to partner with the vendor or not. One thing I do wonder is what the dragons will have on the table next to them? There won’t be a suitcase of cash, obviously (if there’s any suitcase of cash in this scenario the vendor will be carrying it), so I wonder if the distributors might have a representative reseller sitting next to them that they can point to and say “this is what we can offer you”. Or maybe they’ll just have a big picture full of hungry looking resellers they can point to and say “if you come with us, these people are ready to go and sell your product so they can eat again”.
Looking at the MicroScope story, I have to say there are quite a lot of dragons on the panel. I count 11. On a practical level, will it be possible to fit them all in the same room at the same time? Or will there be smaller, separate dragon panels made up of distributors with a strong presence in distinct areas that vendors in those markets can pitch to? In other words, is it going to be a case of distribution dragon volume or distribution dragon value?
This was first published in January 2014