Meet South Africa’s Dragons

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The long awaited Dragon’s Den has hit our tv screens and after watching a few episodes I had to share about the amazing show. I believe many of you have seen the UK version of the show and maybe like me you expected it to be a copy and paste situation.

Dragon’s Den SA did not do such a thing, they kept the set up, but the judges and the pitches are authentically proudly South African, from the language to the humor in the show, one can’t help but feel like its a South African show borrowed by the British.

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For those who don’t know Dragon’s Den here is how it works: The rules of the Den are simple: entrepreneurs have three minutes to pitch their Ideas/businesses and the Dragons interrogate them. They have to get the full amount requested or leave empty handed. Whether you get the full amount from one Dragon or they come as a collective is up to their interest and your negotiating skills.

Just last week we saw one girl get picked by all 5 Dragons to be developed and mentored not because she had a great idea but because her spirit of entrepreneurship shined brighter than any other pitcher they had seen thus far in the den.

Let us meet the dragons:
Polo Leteka Radebe is the chief executive of Identity Partners, Polo is known for rescuing a number of businesses and advocates for women in business.

Lebo Gunguluza was marketing manager for the SABC’s MetroFM before working at ad agency Herdbuoys and then starting his business Gunguluza Entertainment and Corporate Fusion and then Gunguluza Enterprises & Media (GEM Group).

Vusi Thembekwayo is the CEO of Watermark Pan-African Capital Ltd and is the youngest director on a JSE listed company. He is more famously known for being a motivational speaker globally.

Vinny Lingham is a technologically savvy entrepreneur and he started incuBeta, Clicks2Customers, Yola.com and launched Gyft in 2012 which he sold for millions of dollars.

Gil Oved’s online trading venture went bust in 2001 but today he and his business helm R600m turnover company, The Creative Counsel, that employs almost a 1 000 people.

And what is a show without a host? Xolani Gwala is the presenter and voice over of the show, with his deep voice and witty comments keeps the show going.

A couple of hopeful entrepreneurs have come to show their business ideas in the hope of getting venture capital but only few prevailed through the fiery Den of the Dragons. The first entrepreneur to pitch and win was Lucky Moabi, who owns a hydraulic cylinder repair business. He pitched to receive R500 000 in funding for 40% equity for his company, which works very closely with the mining sector. He needs machinery to take everything in-house. Polo Leteka Radebe stepped up and invested the full amount. A few more entrepreneurs have also been lucky enough to get some support from the Dragons.

There are more elements to this show than just crushing the dreams of many innovators and taking as much equity as possible from those with great ideas. The Dragons actually have a heart, they motivate, inspire and educate the pitchers and Lebo Gunguluza even goes so much as to say he will employ or mentor some of the pitchers even though he wont invest financially in their ideas. The shows always leaves one questioning whether their business would interest the dragons. We hope to see season II of the show hit our screens soon, its the most refreshing business show to hit SA in a long time.

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