A History of Dragon’s Den

On Monday, October 29th, seniors entered the biggest project of their first semester: Dragon’s Den. Throughout November and December, teams of seniors will research, design, and develop a business plan before pitching their million-dollar ideas to local business owners. The project, modeled after British television show Dragon’s Den and American television show Shark Tank, teaches students about economics through the process of building a business.

Sophomore World Civilizations teacher, Mr. Scott-Stephen Bell, introduced Dragon’s Den to Da Vinci fourteen years ago with the opening of the school itself. However, back in 2004, Dragon’s Den was known as a project called Business Time, and lacked the creativity and depth of its modern counterpart. Business Time consisted of only a loan application and a pitch to other students and teachers. However, Bell was shortly inspired by a television show he discovered while spending time in the United Kingdom. “We have a show called Dragon’s Den,” he said, “which came out years before Shark Tank in the United States, so we started calling it Dragon’s Den. We said “ooh, let’s figure this out! We’ll have the dragons come in, we would have real business people come in to raise the stakes and sit on the panel.”

Dragon’s Den has continued to grow and develop even after gaining a new name, but one could only wonder what inspired Bell to introduce the project to Da Vinci in the first place. “We had to teach economics,” he said, “and we wanted to make it more realistic and tied to things that might impact their lives. Davis has a lot of independent companies, not chains, so it seemed to fit the spirit of the town.”

Although the Davis community may be familiar with the night-time event, hardly any know what really goes into the project itself. Mrs. Gretchen Conners, the current senior political studies teacher, outlined the project in an interview. “Students in teams develop a business idea in the setting of Davis,” she said. “They have to do some market research, think about who their potential customers are, and based on that make a good, educated decision about thinking about what Davis needs.” Students will then create an entire business plan, featuring startup costs, location, and any other pieces of information that a business developer would have to discover. At the end of the six week period, teams pitch their ideas to the Davis Dragons in order to secure funding for their ideas. But will your idea be chosen?

Although Dragon’s Den can be a source of stress for some seniors, Conners and Bell remind students that the project is meant to be a fun experience. “Do your research and bring some fun to it,” Bell said, “and save the drama for your mama.” Conners advises that students pick an idea that’s feasible, “something that an eighteen year old could create.” And although the opportunity to be creative can be tempting, Conners explains that there’s a limit to how crazy the ideas should be. “Pick something that isn’t so big that you can’t get it done in six weeks.”

Dragon’s Den will continue throughout November and December and end on December 14th with the pitches. Save the date!

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