Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm Auditioning for Dragons' Den

As some you fabulous people in finance and the financial literacy movement may know, I have almost given up on my mission of trying to get parents, teachers of K - 7 students, along with ministers of education, to buy into the idea that financial literacy should start in kindergarten. Before I give up entirely, I'm going to take one last stand by auditioning for Dragons' Den.

Auditions start in Vancouver and Toronto on January 19th, so I have just a few weeks to put a pitch together. If you have a moment, could you please read through my draft and let me know what you think about my story and my ask? The pitch is centered on my novel, The Adventures of Bob Warhop.

A draft of my pitch to the Dragons

My name is Laura Thomas. I’m a mom with an 8 and 9 year old from Delta, BC. I’m a full time writer who is seriously concerned that financial education is not a required component of the K-7 curriculum.

"Six is too young to learn about stocks."
There does not seem to be any political will to change this. Even some financial experts think it’s crazy to teach little kids the language of money. I’ll show you a clip from the Lang and O’Leary Exchange in a moment as an example of the attitude I’m concerned about…David you may remember this.

As a creative person, I have tried using my writing talent to help get teachers and parents with K-7 age kids to get engaged in financial education.
  • I’ve been studying financial literacy and blogging about it since 2010.
  • I've done interviews with some of the Dragons.
  • I’ve written and performed some Sesame Street like videos that teach financial terms.
  • I’ve written, produced and hosted two seasons of a family-friendly financial TV show.
  • I've done a few talk about financial education at teacher conferences.
  • I've done a few classroom visits.
All of these approaches have failed. The audience engagement level is either flat or freaked out. Money as a subject is either too boring or too overwhelming.

Out of curiosity, I looked at the stats for my blog since inception. I wondered what Google searches were leading visitors to me:
  • 6 of the top 10 key word searches had “Kevin O’Leary” in them
  • 2 of the top 10 key word searches were people Googling Arlene
By the way Arlene, more than 100 unique visitors Googled “Arlene Dickinson hot” and found one of the two articles based on my interview with you in 2011. Money is boring and celebrities are interesting. I get it.

What I don't get is this. Why don't we want kids to start becoming fluent in the language of money from a young age? David, let's watch this clip of your response to my Inbox question on what my then 6 year old daughter should use as an investment vehicle - funds or individual stocks.

Go to this link and jump to 57:54 where Chilton says, "Six years old is a bit too young to be learning about stocks and things. If she knows what an ETF is at this age, I'd get her into child counseling."

This way of thinking is what helps keep financial literacy out of the K-7 curriculum and I don’t think that this is going to change any time soon. But I can’t let this problem go. And I have one tiny piece of the solution.

[Show manuscript.] This is The Adventures of Bob Warhop. A kids' novel. Simply put, Bob is a young ferret—a somewhat special needs and doesn’t fit in ferret—who must raise $10,000 to keep his family from being sent to the taxidermist. But like all ferrets he has no idea what money is or how to speak that language. And, he has to raise the money by Christmas Eve which is just weeks away.

This is not another story book or kids’ novel that tries to shoehorn a financial lesson into a flat story. I’ve reviewed a ton of these. The Adventures of Bob Warhop is a fast-paced, exciting novel starring a quirky protagonist whose problem just happens to be that he needs to make a lot of money fast starting from ground zero with lives at stake. But the story really is about Bob and how the adventure changes him.

I'm not a financial expert, I'm an expert writer and storyteller, who just happens to know quite a bit about money from experience. I think money is a theme that artists and writers need to engage with. We need to user our talents to help "edu-tain" future generations so that our economies flourish.

I am asking for $20,000 cash to cover my time and expenses as I polish the manuscript, shop for a publisher, and turn the novel into a script for an animated feature. I would be willing to exchange 50% of my royalties for the $20,000, until that $20,000 is recouped by you. Then then your percentage of my publishing royalty would drop to 10% in perpetuity.

Thank you.

So what do you think? Will I get past the producers and get on the show?

Copyright 2012. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
Contact Laura at moneyme at telus dot net.


18 comments:

  1. Great idea! I think it's important to each children about money. It's really become such a disposable generation. It just has to be done in a fun way for children to learn and I think your book is a great start.

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    1. Thank you. Your positive vibes are appreciated.

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  2. Laura, I watch the Dragons Den all the time and what I see all the time is presenters not stating right from the beginning with the money amount requested and the percentage of the company being offered, in your case the royalty. Kevin for one will jump all over that and it tends to fluster presenters and they lose the focus of their pitch. I think what the dragons want to hear is strong facts, need in the marketplace, SALES, but most importantly how they get their money back, which you have explained.

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    1. Okay...you're right. I have noticed the same. I should state the ask up front before I start telling my story. The storyteller in my fights against that...of course. We call it leaving an open loop.

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  3. Ask for $40,000...

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    1. I will consider that. Thanks for taking time to read and comment.

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  4. Hi Laura, I'm also a regular viewer of DD, and find that the Dragons always want to know "what are your sales?" Basically, they want to know that the concept has been proven out, and is ready to make money. Your statement that "all of these approaches have failed" may work against you, in that their response will be "what makes you think this idea will work?"

    I think your concept is a sound one, but it may be shot down by the Dragons for these two reasons. Many times, I see people pitch concepts, but it seems like they haven't got the answers to the questions that the Dragons always ask, which leads to their downfall. You've got to have those answers ready, and make sure that they're the answers that they want to hear.

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  5. Laura,

    I'd suggest asking for more money - say $100,000 so that you can self-publish and get the books out in the marketplace faster, give them 50% of this enterprise.

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    1. Thanks, Chris. I've considered the self-publishing route, but it's a ton of work, on top of the ton I already have on my shoulders. But...now you've got me thinking. Good thing I have a month to solidify my pitch.

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  6. Laura like you, I have been concerned what our children do not know when they hit the real world. Many years ago I was offered a franchise that would help teach children how to save. Short term, long term and even longer term, and it incorporated compound interest wheels etc. The problem you have faced, as I faced is not that people don't want to teach their children, its that they don't even know the basics themselves. I too like many other comments watch Dragons Den religiously. What you will hear is
    "Show me the money!" How can I make money off this! That is going to be the rallying cry, and if you can't you will then hear "i am out" > Do you have a model that will show them who if anyone has bought into this? Who has expressed interest, and who will buy your book? What are the sales of other books of a similar style of teaching in an entertaining way. How fast can I get my money back, have any publishers expressed interest yet, you don't want to appear to be going to these people with a dream.......they do not believe in dreams other then their own and unless you can solidly quantify your effort to a realistic return on investment they will shoot you down. You have the stuff it is now about how you sell it to them, how do you make them want it and taste it because they can see themselves rolling in profit. They are not a bank, they are and will become your investment partners. Illustrate to O'LEary that you are training future investors for his mutual funds!

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    1. Great points. Thanks for your feedback!

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  7. As a mathematics teacher for a large part of my adult life, I totally agree with your desire to teach financial literacy to the next generations (perhaps many governments would not be in the position they have let themselves get into had we done more in this area generations before?!) but the Dragons are all about making money!

    I agree with comments before about being prepared to answer the Dragon's questions and to be able to show them where the money is going to come from.

    I am not clear about your demographic market nor what kind of plan you have to get your book sold... Dragon's will definitely want to know!

    Good luck!

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  8. I have been teaching financial literacy to my Grade 8 students for years. They lap it up. But I stay really close to the basics, not into investments and all that (we look at traps credit card companies set, how interest works, saving for the big things versus expecting to have what their parents have, etc). I would be interested in having my students read and respond to your book... this feedback might be interesting for the Dragons?

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  9. That is a great idea. Can you please drop me an email at laura (at) laurathomascommunications dot com?

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  10. Did you audition today? How did it go

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  11. I decided that this is not the year. I have two other books to complete first. My YA novel on how to write a short story: "Polly Wants to Be a Writer" is at the proofing stage and due for release October 19, quickly followed by my novel "The Naked Storyteller." My YA novel with fin lit content called "The Adventures of Bob Warhop" will follow. So that puts me in line to audition in 2015. Info about my books is on my website: www.laurathomascommunications.com

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