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5 Questions with Manjit Minhas and Michele Romanow of Dragons’ Den

Dragons breathe fire. This season of DragonsDen, its tenth, needed to breathe some new life into the franchise. Thus, the producers made the bold decision to recruit two millennials as the new judges, Manjit Minhas of Minhas Breweries and Distillery and Michele Romanow, famous for Buytopia and SnapSaves. (The producers also brought in Joe Mimran of Joe Fresh to go along with veteran Michael Wekerle and original Dragon Jim Treliving.)

We were privileged to speak with the newest and youngest Dragons, Michele Romanow and Manjit Minhas in a quiet space at the opening launch party for the new season of Dragons’ Den in Downtown Toronto. Read below for some of the highlights from these Dragons.

Scene Creek: Do you think that social media is important for investing?

Michele Romanow: Totally. You can share an offer now, you can be like this is a great limited time offer, put it on your Facebook, put it on your Twitter, everyone understands that it’s going to expire at Midnight, and before we just did not have the speed to do that.

You always want to focus your attention when you’re starting a business on your business accounts versus your personal accounts.

Scene Creek: What did you learn most from the experience?

Michele Romanow: I learned from the other Dragons. My perspective is the tech business and how do we make it scale, from one user to ten to a hundred and to a million, really really quickly. And I think they saw what are bricks and mortar possibilities, kind of things like that.

Scene Creek: Do you think that we need younger Dragons?

Manjit Minhas: Absolutely. Michele and I are five years apart, and we bring some new fresh blood to the Dragons. For sure, and I bring a whole new dynamic, not only by being a young mum, which there hasn’t been in the past, but someone who is from the beer and spirits business, from a TV and film production background. And someone who has been in business for fifty years in partnership with her brother!

Scene Creek: So why is important to have young Dragons?

Michele Romanow: I think you can empathize. I think I sit there there every time and understand what it was like to be on the other side of that pitch. I still pitch for a lot of my ideas and on a different scale, but I still need to convince people every day what I do is worthy of their time and their money and getting their attention.

Scene Creek: Do these deals actually go through?

Manjit Minhas: I’ve closed more than half the deals that have gone through, and the rest are in diligence right now. We only left a couple of months ago, and I’ve been hard at work on mentoring along these businesses.

What surprised me the most is how much I learnt from the other Dragons. We all have such different backgrounds, from Jim in franchising, to fashion for Joe, tech for Michelle, to pure investing for Wek.

When you’re together ten hours a day, you learn a lot from each other. Almost every night we’d go out for dinner together, or have drinks, Michelle and I in the make-up room for an hour and a half every morning.

That’s what makes entrepreneurship so much fun is that there’s not only one path to success.

DragonsDen airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.