It’s been widely reported that this series of Dragon’s Den will see Hilary Devey bow out after only two years on the show however in this instalment we got a preview of how that show will look. At the start of this episode Evan Davie announced that Hilary was absent due to a short illness meaning that there were only four Dragons rather than five. In his opening gambit Davis seemed to insinuate that just because there was less of them didn’t mean that they’d be any kinder and he was completely right.
Will Paul the Butcher bring home the bacon?
The first pitch of the episode came from the visibly nervous Paul Turner, a butcher who’d developed a range of sausages based on his grandfather’s recipes. Paul wanted £80,000 for a 20% share of the business. Alf Turner and Sons sausages had already won several awards, including the prestigious Sausage Of The Year, and they’d also briefly been sold in Tesco as part of a Help for Heroes promotion.
Peter, who according to Davis is partial to a bit of sausage, opened up by asking about the family’s butcher business which made a large amount of profit each year and which Paul part owns with his brother. Theo was concerned that Alf Turner and Sons wouldn’t rise above the other sausage brands with no USP other than the traditional family recipe. Duncan enjoyed sampling the sausages but was confused over the fact that the company had two different types of ale sausages and ultimately he couldn’t see a return so he also pulled out. Debra agreed with Duncan over the branding and wished Paul well but for her it was too risky a proposition so she was out once again. Throughout Paul’s pitch it seemed that Peter had been more interested in the family business offering Paul the full amount but wanting a 33% share in the butchers’ shop rather than the sausage company.
Paul finally worked out a deal in which if Peter got his full 80 grand back then he’d hand over his share in the shop and the 33% would go into the sausage company which I believe was a fair enough deal. While I’m not exactly sure how the deal will work I think Paul has the right Dragon as Peter has had a lot of success with edible products most notably the incredibly popular Reggae Reggae Sauce.
Caroline, Lee and Chris
The second pitch came from healthcare professionals Dr Caroline Howard, Lee Taylor and Chris Kurt Gable. They wanted £50,000 for a 10% share in their already successful London-based CPR training scheme. Inevitably their pitch involved them delivering part of the training by using a dummy while all three talked the Dragons through it.
I felt it would be more impactful if they’d knocked out one of the Dragons and then revived them.
As the Dragons questioning began it was revealed that the trio’s product was the only training scheme to have a fully qualified medical director in Dr Caroline. As the Dragons asked how the business was split it was revealed that Lee is no longer involved with the day to day running of the scheme having now moved to the south coast. The muddled business structure confused both Debra and Peter who both pulled out after claiming to not understand the trio that they would be going into business with. Theo admitted that he had been formulating an offer until the revelation about the business structure saying that there was little common sense being employed and declaring himself out.
After probing into how the trio secured their clients Duncan offered the full money for 32% of the business however after a brief huddle Caroline told him they weren’t prepared to give over more than 10% so ultimately they left without an investor. Personally I feel that they could have negotiated a lower percentage with Duncan however their refusal to budge from their original offer meant that they went home with nothing.
Georgie and Simon King present Drumchasers
The most entertaining pitch of the episode came from father and daughter team Simon and Georgie King who asked for £60,000 for a 20% share in their percussion-based musical Drumchasers. Accompanied by a full drum-line, who had funky illuminated sticks, we heard some Stephen Fry narration before the Kings talked us through how many productions they’ve put on up to this point. Simon told the Dragons that he needed their money for marketing in order for them to make their most profitable show and ultimately so his daughter could live her dream of having a show on the West End.
Duncan started the grilling by asking Simon about the finances up to this point with him revealing that with the two tours they’d put on they’d just broken even however he still believed if it had been marketed better they would’ve made a profit. Things were looking up for the Kings until Debra started to question them over the costs and working out that if she did invest in them she’d only receive £600 if they sold out a venue. This summation of the costs gradually saw the Dragons disappear with Peter saying it was too much of a fine line to risk money on while Duncan couldn’t see a profit in the near future so both pulled out. Debra claimed that it was a notoriously difficult area to make money in and they needed someone who had expertise in putting on a show so she went out.
As Theo tried to make his mind up Georgie told him about how much money they made from the corporate events however this failed to change his mind agreeing with the other Dragons that it was too risky a venture. I personally think it’s a shame that this likeable pair didn’t get an investment but ultimately Debra was right and I feel that the exposure from their appearance on Dragon’s Den will help them find a more suitable business partner.
Finally tonight we saw Karrina Oldale ask for £115,000 for 17% of her business Envirothaw which is a granular and fluid de-icer which is 90% less corrosive than rock salt. Karrina demonstrated this by applying the small blue crystal to a massive block of ice which gradually turned it black causing it to thaw out.
Almost as soon as the Dragons’ questioning had begun it was revealed that Karrina had actually arranged a deal with the Chinese manufacturers of the product in which she would get the UK and Europe rights as long as she got rid of 50,000 tonnes of the stuff with this revelation leave the Dragons speechless. Their shock continued as Karrina then revealed that she’d sunk £240,000 into the business, and it transpired that she had been in talks with Tesco who were interested in stocking the product. It seemed that Tesco had been messing her around by getting her to fill in a mountain of paperwork which the Dragons suspected was ultimately a way of fobbing her off.
As the Dragons realised how much of a risky proposition was on the table they started to pull out with Debra the first to go followed by Peter who wished her the best of luck and hoped that she’d sell the rest of her stock. With Ducan out there was only Theo left however Karrina told him that they’d make their money back if they were able to sell to just one airport. Theo made her an offer but wanted 50% of the business though business-savvy Karrina wanted to make a deal she couldn’t haggle Theo down any further so she left without any investment. In this instance I feel that Karrina was right not to except Theo’s offer and at the end of the day this was just too risky a proposition for any of the Dragons.
So it seems that four Dragons are no less harsh than five however we did see three offers made only one was accepted and it will be interesting to see how Peter Jones gets on in the sausage industry. I do also feel that this may well have been a dry run to see if the audience would take to just having a quartet of Dragons in the den as it would cause a lot less hassle than trying to find a fifth member of the gang once again.
What did you think to this week’s Dragon’s Den? What were your favourite pitches? Leave Your Comments Below.