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'Dragons' Den': The Next Generation

11/11/2013 03:43 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
CBC

When I was a kid, the thing I dreaded most was public speaking. Give me a pop quiz, a spelling test, a science project, anything, any day, but a debate or reciting a speech? Um, no thank you. Even now, the idea of getting in front of people and talking makes me shudder, and just reminds me of the sweats and the shakes I would get when I wasn't faking a stomachache and running out of the classroom. True story.

Thankfully, there are some kids who enjoy putting it all out there. That's right, it's that time of year, "Dragons' Den" fans, when students stand in front of the firing squad comprised of Kevin O'Leary, Jim Treliving, Bruce Croxon, Arlene Dickinson and David Chilton, to see whether their dreams will come true or be shot down. Hard.

The aspiring entrepreneurs, some as young as eight years old, brave the Den, and while not many of the kids are able to get investors on board, it, for the most part, doesn't get them down, they don't give up and they still believe in themselves and their products. Come on, how can you not root for that?

Well, hang on. There are some ideas that are tough to watch, namely, DJ Lambchop (really). And while I really like the idea of the eyewear made from reclaimed products in Africa, viewers will be know right away if the university student's pitch makes the grade.

There are two ideas that stand out, even better than scrotum lotion (for real). You may have already downloaded the app for UndrTheRadr Ringtones, created by Vancouver ninth-grader Aanikh Kler. Ringtones might seem like a super-profitable business, but the high-pitched smartphone ringtones that only young people can hear is a brilliant concept (though it will make those like myself who are young at heart but not young in age, feel really, really, really ancient). Oh, and if that wasn't enough, for every 99 cent download, Kler donates 20 cents to Free the Children.

There's the team of young entrepreneurs from inner-city Halifax, Hope Blooms, who make salad dressings from the organic community garden, which was formerly a garbage-and weed-laden dump. They're overloaded with offers but because they can't keep up with demand, they've had to turn them all down. With the Dragons' help, they can start to do some good.

If this is how this generation does business, it's hard not to be sold. Perhaps it's just me and my old age, but I was overcome with emotion watching how smart and well-spoken Kler is, and how the Hope Blooms gang are giving back to their community. Their motto alone, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change," still gets me all choked up.

The student episode of "Dragons' Den" is just one of five specials this season (the others being a holiday special, the Second-Chance show, an Update episode and an all-new Canadian-themed hour). But it's the fan-favourite student special that's the one to watch, and shows exactly why "Dragons' Den" continually has so many loyal viewers tuning in each week. Just make sure you've got a box of tissues by your side on Wednesday, because these young people will impress you so much, you might want to bust out your chequebooks and invest too.

The all-student episode of "Dragons' Den" airs Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. EST (8:30 NT) on CBC.

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