Risk and Reward

Risk prevents many ordinary people from acting. Consumed with fear, they dwell only on the potential for failure instead of the potential returns a solid, albeit chancy, investment could produce.

But without taking risks, successful entrepreneur and TV personality W. Brett Wilson wouldn't have been able to co-found a multi-billion dollar oil and gas investment company, FirstEnergy Capital Corp., or become the chairman of both Prairie Merchant Corporation and Canoe Financial, a management fund with about $2 billion in assets.

Wilson hopes to use his experience and business expertise to change the perception of risk altogether in his new show Risky Business, set to air this fall on Slice.

In this 13-episode series, Wilson gives daring couples the opportunity to make it big by choosing between two different and somewhat unusual investment options, like investing in undervalued vintage wine labels or a one-night-only event. Each pair then stakes their life savings, or at least a sizable portion of them, on one investment, while Wilson takes the other. It's not until the end of the show that viewers learn whose investment performed better.

"These couples are coming to the table with a meaningful amount of money relative to what they have," Wilson says. "Yes, there will be some losses. But this show is about inspiring and encouraging people to take bigger risks because with bigger risk inevitably comes bigger returns."


Wilson made the move to Slice, after leaving the Gemini Award-winning CBC show, Dragons' Den, in February. He says after listening to the producer of Risky Business explain the show's theme, he knew it was a fit with his business philosophy and television goals. "When I left Dragons' Den, I said I would still entertain television that celebrates entrepreneurship; that celebrates philanthropy, or celebrates both."

Wilson, who in three years on the show made more than 60 deals on air and personally invested more than $4.5 million in final deals, says he isn't planning on returning to Dragons' Den.

"I'm still a Dragon. I still have more deals done than any Dragon in the world," the 54-year-old says. "But let's be clear. I've done 55 episodes. I don't think my life needs a lot more."


Wilson, who made the bulk of his wealth in the oil and natural gas industry, started investing in real estate about 10 years ago in order to diversify his assets. But unlike his other ventures, his real estate investments aren't too risky. "I see a lot of people trade real estate, but I purchase properties on a buy-and-hold basis. I just like to put it away, so I don't have to spend a lot of time thinking about it. That's partly because I have partners that worry about, but, more importantly, it's because I believe in a long-term hold strategy."

To find out how Wilson cashed in on Saskatchewan farmland and to get his investment tips, pick up a copy of our October issue, on newsstands until Oct. 12.

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