Murtz On The Scene: Exclusive Interview With Michael Wekerle From Dragons’ Den

 

There is little doubt that CBC’s best show is Dragons’ Den.

The show features high-profile Canadian multi-millionaire investors where entrepreneurs have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pitch their business ideas to financiers with the cash and experience to push new ventures toward commercial success.

This season, the show’s panel of venture capitalists has undergone a major makeover with Kevin O’Leary and Bruce Croxon being replaced by restaurant magnate Vikram Vij and tech and media mogul Michael Wekerle.

In May, I had the chance to talk to the newest Dragon in the Den.

Described as “Mick Jagger meets Warren Buffett,” Michael Wekerle is a household name in the world of Canadian finance. Making a fortune in the tech and media space, Wekerle was recently appointed CEO of the merchant banking firm Difference Capital.

Wekerle currently oversees an investment portfolio that includes video games in the form of Virgin Gaming, an innovation centre and tech incubator in Waterloo, Ontario and even fast food as he is an investor in Mark Wahlberg’s Wahlburgers which will soon open its first Toronto location.

Running in stark contrast to past Dragons, Wekerle is anything but a buttoned-down businessman. He is a heavily tattooed single dad to six children with a passion for rock music and fast cars.

I asked Wekerle about the changes that can be expected on the series with the inclusion of him and Vikram Vij on the panel. We also talked about the influence of Shark Tank and whether he feels he is Canada’s answer to Mark Cuban. We also addressed whether a stalwart hit like Dragons’ Den does feel a pressure to reinvent itself to continue to appeal to younger viewers. We also chatted about whether Michael was influenced by the way that Dragons cut deals before his arrival or whether he simply just used his own negotiation tactics. Wekerle also presented me with a checklist for the best way to close a deal with him in the Den. I asked him if fans of the series can expect him to be nice like former dragon Robert Herjavec or more confrontational like Kevin O’Leary.

Dragons’ Den premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on CBC

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