Early stage science, engineering and technology companies should not be put off by the experiences of their fellow would-be entrepreneurs in the BBC television series Dragons' Den.
So says Rob Read, West Midlands regional manager at Connect Midlands InvoRed, an investment readiness programme.
Dragons' Den offers budding entrepreneurs the chance to make a case for a cash injection from five potential backers, in the face of a challenging and sometimes hostile reception from the hard bitten 'dragon' investors, cast in a Simon Cowell mould.
Mr Read, whose organisation offers practical training and mentoring for entrepreneurs seeking cash backing for early stage businesses, says that the show is " makebelieve" and the treatment of the participants is "unreasonable".
"Businesses do face tough questioning from investors, who have to be convinced of a product or company's potential worth but this show is perpetuating the myth of 'vulture capitalists', and the producers are recklessly playing with people's dreams," said Mr Read.
"What's more, it is unforgivable of the producers to throw entrepreneurs into a very intimidating environment and expect them to convey their idea without some form of training in presenting an investment pitch.
"We strongly advise entrepreneurs not to agree to a deal in the first five minutes. Investors carry out due diligence and entrepreneurs should keep their options open to get the most attractive terms." Connect Midlands has raised over £30 million in backing for its clients and encourages them to get professional advice before making a decision.
Mr Read explained: "If the idea behind the business is well researched, linked to market demand and presented properly, then there are people out there who will back it and guide entrepreneurs toward success."
He believes that there is still a major communication gap between the business founders and those with the money.
"Often, the entrepreneur concentrates so much on the product that he or she does not convincingly convey the opportunity the enterprise offers," he said.
"Innovation, potential and technical excellence is not enough though. Finance is critical to get products and services to market and our aim is to help businesses with practical advice and mentoring over a sustained period so that they can find investors and communicate their case properly.
"We specifically address all issues relating to raising finance in our workshops, and I am keen that entrepreneurs in the Midlands contact us first and simply boycott such apparent opportunities as the Dragons' Den. Our aim is to connect the ideas with the finance and play a part in building the enterprise economy of the region."
The Connect Midlands InvoRed programme is backed by Advantage West Midlands, the East Midlands Development Agency, and the European Regional Development Fund.