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How Dragon’s Den broke, then fixed entrepreneurship


Dragon’s Den painted a broken image of entrepreneurship to a generation of hopefuls. Now older and wiser, entrepreneurship as a profession has matured.

Change is a necessity in today’s maturing entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The granddaddy of entrepreneurship, Peter Drucker, identified entrepreneurs as those who view change as the standard. A sentiment echoing Heraclitus of Espheus, the Greek philosopher who said, “The only constant in life is change.”

The real genius comes from exploiting existing change, or endowing existing resources with wealth creating potential.

With Drucker ardently making the distinction, recognizing that anyone can change ‘something’.

You only have to watch an episode of Dragon’s Den to get an idea of what change, for change’s sake really is.

‘Pure-breed’ entrepreneurs sit at home and sneer as they watch would-be hopefuls pitch ideas ranging from self-burial pet packs, to full size replica telephone boxes.

And David J Brown, CEO of Ve Interactive believes the show contributed to a worldwide, “Dragon’s Den attitude,” to entrepreneurship.

That attitude, Brown suggests, amounted to businesses that were addicted to getting going, conceptualizing and ultimately falling apart.

“In 2014 there were 50,000 businesses started in the first quarter of the year. That also means there’s going to be the highest rate of failure to follow.”

This may no longer be the case. It comes as a result of a maturing entrepreneurial ecosystem entering a new phase.

“I think for the first time, the industry is professionalizing,” explains the entrepreneur, author and pianist.

“In the UK, we have a more sober approach to it all. As a nation, we are more cautious.”

Previously, the measurement of success was the metrics around whether someone had simply got a business off the ground.

Nowadays, “raising a bit of money and getting going is no longer the accolade that everyone respects. I think now, we are seeing a shift toward, what are you doing with that business and how are you scaling it?”

It’s these changes that signal a maturing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Namely startup founders focusing more heavily on the long term.