I have to admit, I rarely watch TV programmes such as the Dragons' Den, but as this week's [July 08] included an online business, I gave
it a look. And I realised why I never watch these shows.
OK, let me say upfront that I am a lecturer at a provisional UK university. I am not a multi-millionaire businessman [businessperson?] with a
portfolio of successful ventures in my CV. However, I have been around a while, I have had my own [successful] retail businesses - and I do have
some common sense.
However, whenever I have taught/supervised students on our 'enterprise' module, when they present their proposed businesses to me I always
lead with one question : who are your customers? And I mean who is really going to hand over their cash for your product or
service? Take the new trendy cafe or bar in the city centre, for example - the answer cannot be 'everyone who shops in the city centre' or
'everyone who wants a good night out'. No, who? Give me a specific demographic - and tell me why they will go to your establishment and not
any one of a few dozen other similar places within a square mile.
You get my drift - this is what I end up shouting at the contestants on the Dragon's Den, and boy ... was I shouting loudly at the
'Diamond Geezer' who proposed selling diamonds from his diamondgeezer.com
And here is the rub: three of the judges offered him money [venture capital] to the tune of 255,000 GBP. Yep, in other words, they
were confident that enough people would buy diamonds online - from a non-recognized brand - to turn a profit.
For goodness sake, some people are still reluctant to buy 4.99 books online from Amazon [a top-five web brand], why on earth would
anyone make online purchases of diamonds costing thousands of pounds? Note that diamond.co.uk is a car-insurance website.
Furthermore, the judges accepted the contestant's claim that the site ranked at 12 in Google for "diamond" and on the first page
for "diamond engagement ring". Hmmmmm, not on my Google they don't. Both were so far down I gave up looking. And no sign of any 'sponsored
listings' either - perhaps that's what he wanted the quarter of a million pounds for? Note to judges, apply due diligence before handing over the cash.
I also had a quick look at the website. I gave up after two images on pages linked from the front page failed to download.
If you hadn't already realised ... it is this willingness of venture capitalists - who should know better - to invest in half-baked online
business models that caused the dot bomb collapse at the beginning of the century. I thought that had ended ... apparently I was wrong.
Footnote #1: I am delighted to say I am not the only one who shares this opinion, a week or so after I had written this I came across this article:
Would you buy a diamond ring
from this website?. It's author goes a long way to answering the questions I raise in the 'what's in it for me' section for this musing
- with 'trust' being the over-riding issue.
Footnote #2 December 2011 [around three and a half years after the original story] - I just had
a quick look at the 'DiamondGeezer' website and it has certainly moved 'up-market' in its
appearance with an emphasis on trust and validity. Shame they're stuck with the 'down-market'
name though :)
Footnote #3 August 2013 - well, DiamondGeezer is stiil in business, so who am I to
Anyhoo ... I just got an email from firstname.lastname@example.org saying:
"We're conducting a clean-up process on the backlink profile of our domain
www.diamondgeezer.com and we would like you to remove all links pointing to that
domain. I would like to thank you for linking and sharing our content in the past.
This request is not a criticism of your website, it's associated with a new,
very strict company policy. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to
contact me. Many thanks for all your help on this project."
However, why would someone with an email address on a .org.uk domain be making this request?
Is it real or a hoax - or even malicious practice from a competitor? I've forwarded
the email to diamondgeezer, I'll let you know the result [though I had to complete a sales
form to send the message - including how much I wanted to spend - as there are no email
addresses on the website. my students will know my view on this practice].
Well, an immediate response came confirming it was a genuine request - so I have removed the
hyperlink. Though the whole thing still smells a bit to me - particularly the domain name
of that email address.