Dragon Attack: Robert Herjavec, The Herjavec Group

Written by Kim Shiffman

In this exclusive Q&A, the hard-nosed investors of CBC-TV's Dragons' Den identify what too many entrepreneurs get wrong — and why they have trouble getting it right. Robert Herjavec, CEO, The Herjavec Group,Toronto Robert Herjavec came up with the idea for a technology company while waiting tables at an upscale Toronto restaurant in the early 1990s. Less than 10 years later, he sold the online security software firm to AT&T for a reported $100 million. Next, he joined another company that Nokia bought for $225 million. Today, Robert heads up The Herjavec Group, a Toronto-based network security firm that ranked No. 9 on the 2005 PROFIT HOT 50 list of Canada's Emerging Growth Companies. What's the best business mistake you ever made? Extending credit to a customer without doing a proper credit check. The deal was very large and we ended up not getting paid. But we were able to recover some of the money, and it taught us a lesson. What's the fastest way to turn you off a pitch? Exaggerate. Complete the following sentence: You can tell I'm interested in your opportunity when... I become quiet, because you're saying something of value. What's the most common fundraising flaw you see in entrepreneurs? Overconfidence, bordering on arrogance. Or lack of confidence, bordering on insecurity. What element is most commonly missing from entrepreneurs' pitches? Sales strategy — information about the actual act of going to market. Which Dragon would you least like present to? Kevin. He lacks empathy in certain situations. What's the best business lesson you can share with aspiring entrepreneurs? Sometimes the difference between success and failure is just staying in the game. Stick it out. What's the key to startup success? Taking theory and applying it to real-life sales — taking that data and finding the next customer. Not on a grand scale, but one deal at a time.

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