Saturday, 30 June 2007

Why Products Fail

Since writing my blog below about Peter Jones' new show Tycoon, I set up a Google Alert which has since sent me every online piece documenting - in excruciating detail - the failure of Peter's latest TV project.

When you are entrepreneur just starting out, at least you can mistakes (and there always will be mistakes!) in private, whereas we 'Celebrity Entrepreneurs' are always under the full and often embarassing glare of the media spotlight.

Although I actually feel for Peter, having been through my own very public 'media meltdown', nonetheless it did prompt me to think about what makes a great product (whether that be a TV programme, or any other creation out of which you intend to make money).

When the Dragons were first approached by the BBC and introduced to the talented producer Martyn Smith, who had been commissioned to create the concept for Dragons' Den, I think we all expected an X-Factor type show in a studio at White City.

Instead we were sent to a desolate warehouse in one of London's less safe suburbs, sat on mis-matching chairs in a bleak set and had no real instruction on what was about to unfold.

But when the first series of Dragons' Den was aired back in January 2005, it was clear just from watching episode one that the BBC had a hit on their hands. Although it was quite raw and the entrepreneurs weren't brilliant, to me that first series was by far the best - it had a great energy; the Dragon egos had not become bigger than the Show itself and the entrepreneurs were truly desperate for funding and support - not just after a free primetime TV ad.

In short, Martyn Smith threw out all conventional TV wisdom - and took the risk to create something briliantly innovative and original, which would change the way business TV programmes were conceived forever. And the BBC has been milking the formula relentlessly ever since (in fact, some would say the cow has long since run out of milk).

The reasons why Dragons' Den was such a success are exactly the same reasons why Tycoon - and many other products like it - failed.

Playing safe and following what others have done before may seem like a solid option to achieve success, but in business it is actually often the riskiest approach you can take.


Allister said...

You've made the point well. It's all too easy for TV producers to mimic an existing success these days. Having the courage to invent something new that the public will grow to love takes much more work. Tycoon has all the hallmarks of being backed by lazy TV execs who rely on lazy viewers who tolerate poor production values because of its vagues similarities to a show they already know. It takes real courage and conviction to break the mould. It's a real pity that the TV industry now does so little to encourage the pioneering spirit.

time said...

You have not made your point well!!

It seems you have a real problem with Peter Jones, is there anything we need to know, or are you just a little put out that he and another Dragon saved you from trading insolvent while owner and Director of RLD's?

Anonymous said...

This is a very pathetic article Rachel. No offense. I think you need to accept the fact that your business didn’t do well and move on. Isn’t this the kind of advice you give people on Dragon’s Den? You've gone to the far lengths of setting google alerts on Peter Jones show failure?? Peter Jones is an excellent entrepreneur. In fact, he's an entrepreneur before he is a TV personality although he does the latter very well. He didn’t fail at what he does best, you did. Accept your mistakes and move on. You should thank Peter for getting you out of the mess you were in. I think you need to apologize to him for writing this rubbish. Peter Jones got to where he is from nothing! I think the failure of his show Tycoon didn’t even make him flinch. By the way, are you jealous of his show American Inventor? Notice how Tycoon failed yet he’s still on TV?? Doesn’t that say something?

Peter Jones, you're a star. I loved your show Tycoon and I wish it had stayed on air. You’ve done well for yourself. Congratulations and I wish you all the best. Keep up the great work.

Rachel Elnaugh said...

Hey Anonymous

I am sure Peter would agree with me that business is a rollercoaster ride - sometimes you're up, other times you're down.

Peter went through his own business meltdown before he set up Phones International where his company went into liquidation and he lost everything, including his wife and home.

He could easily have given up but brushed himself down and reinvented himself - that's the entrepreneurial way!