Dragon’s Den hits Waterloo

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Auditions for the popular CBC television show Dragon’s Den will be making a stop in Waterloo next week as part of a cross-country tour.

“We’ve done Waterloo for a few years now, and gotten a few great entrepreneurs from there, which is why we keep coming back,” said associate producer Priscilla Sreedharan. “And obviously being a university town, we do draw quite a lot of student pitchers.”

The University of Waterloo’s Conrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology will host the auditions. It is hoped that the location will help bring in a variety of applicants, though it may hold an additional draw for young innovators.

Sreedharan commented, “We did our first student special this past season and we’re hoping to do another one this year, so we’re looking for as many student pitchers as possible, and that does include post secondary education.”

“It’s not the first time [auditions have been held there], it’s been going on for quite awhile,” said Howard Armitage, the founding director of the Conrad Centre. “I had people from the Dragon’s Den also come and they’ve given talks to our classes here, so that kind of cemented a bit of the relationship. “

Armitage, who is also an accounting professor with the University of Waterloo, emphasized the importance of providing programs and opportunities aimed at the development of student entrepreneurial skills.

“Our future in this country probably rests more on being able to innovate and come up with new products and services than ever before,” he suggested. “The things that we traditionally do are being undercut by low-priced countries and different groups, so I think that our standard of living, if we’re going to maintain it, will depend on a group of young individuals with new ideas.”

However, Armitage also acknowledged that “a very limited number of students” will likely pitch ideas, as the auditions are open to all ages for anyone in southwestern Ontario.

Those interested in presenting an idea to producers are able to fill out an application in advance, or can also simply fill one out at auditions on March 16. They will be open between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., but those interested should be warned that they will be received on a first come, first served basis. Sreedharan expects to see around 30 people throughout the day.

Dragon’s Den is also looking in particular for innovative energy ideas for part of their Future Now competition. Three people will be selected for the special show, which will air on June 3. A $100,000-prize will provided to the winner by Shell.
“So the idea is to move toward a more green way of living,” Sreedharan described. “It is a bit of a niche thing, but it’s interesting.”

On words of wisdom for potential applicants, she advised, “Come prepared.
“We want to see visual presentations, we want to see dynamic presentations, so bring lots of energy. Because once you get past the producers, that’s your ticket to see the dragons.”

Episodes for this round of auditions should be airing fall 2012.

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