Dragon’s Den Episode 5: Illuminating bike wheels, stick-on eyelash flicks and a website for graduates are all pitched while I try to guess who’ll get the cash

by Matt D

When watching Dragon’s Den I’m often trying to guess if the entrepreneurs will get any money from the potential investors and more often than not I get it wrong.

Nura’s Flick Tips

Take for example Nura who had a nifty product. She seemed to be passionate about her product and if I were a multi-millionaire would have risked £50,000 for a 20% share of her accessory business. Nura’s invention was Flick Tips, an adhesive piece of material which would give women the flick effect on the end of their eye-liner. Nura’s model Kayleigh was also enthusiastic about the product saying that her and her dancer friends used them all the time and they were utterly durable.

As the process went on we learnt that the product was available at the till points in every Sally’s Hair and Beauty in the UK and Ireland while Nura had also flogged her wares around various trade shows. In fact, Nura was a trade show veteran having sold other products there previously, including the brilliantly named Wow Brow. However, the demonstrations at these shows were costing her a pretty penny and eating in to her overall profits.

The main problem the majority of the Dragons had, especially Debra, was that they believe it was a niche product and that when the flick style is out of fashion the product would be worthless. One by one the male Dragons also pulled out as they didn’t think they’d get a return on their investments. Peter also commented that working with the talkative Nura would be like working with fifty women. It was then down to Hilary Devey who evidently really loved Nura’s spirit, but like the others she couldn’t see that she’d ever get a return on her investment so had to pull out.  She invited Nura to come back with a new product though. While I know little about investment, to me it seemed like a good product to put some money behind and take that risk however the Dragons thought otherwise.

Cycle advertising

Next up were Belarusians Artem and Kierel. They were after £90,000 for a 10% share in their business, installing video clips onto bike wheels using a computer programme. The pair had already drummed up interest from other companies through their website. During questioning the pair seemed to know what they were doing.

Despite this, I didn’t see them getting an investment here as the amount they wanted seemed fairly high while Peter Jones’ opening comments suggested that he didn’t understand how people would see these adverts if they were going past so quickly on bike wheels. It seems that Jones was in the minority, although Duncan also picked holes in the plan, as the Dragons learnt about the pair’s past namely their background in both physics and law.

At this point I felt the tide turn but I was still a little shocked when Theo, Hilary and Debra all offered the full amount of money for 40% with Hilary in particular seeming very interested. The boys though didn’t go with Hilary, which would’ve been my choice, but instead let Theo and Debra split the money and each have a 20 share in their business.

Camping Bugs

The third pitch was by former police officer Glen and by this point I’d given up guessing who would secure an investment. Glen, who also owns a timber business, wanted £250,000 for a 30% share in Camping Bugs a company that produced these huts and used cheaper materials to undercut their rivals.

As the Dragons sampled the hut that Glen had bought with him they seemed impressed. This confidence seemed to grow as Glen revealed how cheaply he could make one of the huts. Glen revealed that he wanted the quarter of a million in order to complete several orders so they would be ready for various upcoming events. This pitch really felt like it was going in the right direction but then suddenly the Dragons clocked onto the fact that Glen’s existing timber company produced the huts so in essence they’d be investing in a business that then gives his other business profit.

This really seemed to infuriate the Dragons especially Hilary who snapped at Glen very definitively telling him ‘I AM OUT.’ Peter was the only one who would even consider talking to Glen but said he wanted to invest in both of his businesses something that the entrepreneur wouldn’t even think about so he was unceremoniously kicked out of the den.

Dupsy’s Intern Avenue

The final person to pitch to the Dragons was former barrister Dupsy who wanted a £100,000 for a 10% stake in an online platform for businesses to hire qualified graduates. Intern Avenue differs from other sites as their algorithm ranks the graduates in order of suitability, while the site would soon be able to support video interviews.

As a technology expert, Peter was aware of other people in the business world who were currently doing this type of thing. However, he thought Dupsy could have the first move advantage in terms of the ranking system. As it later transpired that Dupsy’s funds would only allow the site to run for another four months a few of the Dragons thought the venture was far too risky and pulled out. Peter though saw something in Dupsy and was interested in working with her further so offered her the full amount of money but for 40% of the company.

Hilary then plunged into Dupsy’s past and, in an X-Factor style sob story, she told the story of how her late father was her inspiration. Now I’m not for one minute saying that Dupsy’s entrepreneur father dying in a Nigerian prison wasn’t the most traumatic event in her life but at the same time I don’t think it particularly needed to be featured in a show as stoic as Dragon’s Den. It also seemed one of the most coached scenes in the series where Hilary ‘casually’ asked Dupsy about her biggest influence which turned out to be her father who was caught up in the uprising causing her mother to raise her and her six siblings. After hearing this story Hilary also threw her hat into the ring offering the same deal as Peter however Dupsy then tried to play them off against each other by asking if they’d come down to 30% when they got their investment back a term they both agreed to. Even though this does seem to be the series for splitting offers down the middle, for example Duncan and Hilary have already gone in together on two businesses, however this time Dupsy obviously already had Peter in mind as she accepted his offer.

So as you can see my guesses are rarely right when it comes to who gets investments though I’d like a curveball to be thrown occasionally and have one of the pitchers from those smaller filler segments walkaway with an investment however with door-protection and pillow-building being among the ideas there was no money being exchanged in this sequences either. Overall a fairly enjoyable episode that I’ll mainly remember for Hilary’s ferocious attitude towards Glen and the Dragons revealing how many pillows they sleep with at night.