On CBC’s “Dragon’s Den“, entrepreneurs pitch ideas to a group of five savvy Canadian investors. When watching the show, you can’t help but get fired up and may find yourself yelling at the entrepreneurs pitching their ideas (at least I do… ha!)
On November 4, 2009, a woman from Toronto, Ontario came on the show to pitch her new chain of women-owned mechanical shops. The name? Ms. Lube. She walked into the Den, introduced herself and looked straight at Jim and said, “We’re looking especially at you Jim!”
Now, you might be thinking… confidence is good no? Well… Not when you’re looking at one of the major investors of the Mr. Lube franchise… I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Ms. Lube? Mr. Lube? Sounds quite similar huh?
The pitch went the way you’d expect — the dragon’s all pointing out the obvious copyright infringement — with Jim remaining completely silent because he felt “he had to” (no kidding…) Can someone say “cease and desist”?
Not only that but they are an all-female garage which means that they are immediately up against discriminatory hiring practices… Eeps!
Here’s the part that killed me though. The woman walked into the back room to reflect on her feelings after the rejection and she said, “The only part that bothers me is all of the money I’ve spent on branding and I guess if I have to change it, I will… it’s all a part of business.”
It drives me crazy when entrepreneurs miss obvious important business practices and then play the victim card. When you are out in the business world, stealing ideas (or clients, or proprietary information, etc.) you are not only at fault… you’re delusional if you play the victim card.
The first thing any smart, savvy business owner does is check that their branding, their business name and anything else they spend money on is not in direct infringement of copyright. Now, I get that sometimes, things get missed but she walked into the room, looked at Jim and thought he might be interested due to his investment in Mr. Lube.
It’s baffling really.
When you don’t do your due diligence, the only person at fault is you. It’s the harsh reality. People aren’t going to be swayed by the charms of your branding or your logo if you rip off their idea. Instead, they are going to do what any business person would do – take action immediately.
Here’s the thing – not only do you rip off an idea when you do something like this but you also “borrow” the “know, like and trust” factor that the solidified brand has built up. People are going to assume that Ms. Lube is a branch of Mr. Lube and therefore, will not think twice about becoming a customer or trusting in the business. That’s stealing more than just a name – that’s stealing built up trust which is the hardest thing for a brand to build.
Did you see the show? What are your thoughts on the Ms. Lube idea?