Dragon’s Den Episode Eleven: Phone Bunjees, Insoles and Drinks Carriers are this week’s main investment opportunities in a rather lacklustre instalment of the business show

by Matt D

Dragons Den 2012

You can really tell that we’re getting towards the end of this series of Dragon’s Den as tonight’s show almost felt like a show full of pitches that weren’t entertaining enough to be put on earlier in the season. It also felt like a shorter show due to the fact that there were only three featured pitches, as well as the usual filler clips, and even these weren’t that entertaining. I have to say this has to be the least memorable episode of Dragon’s Den in a good while and by the end of the episode I can’t say I was that entertained.

Emma Jones and Mark Ferguson
Fist up were couple Emma and Mark who performed a little skit about a phone falling out of a bag to highlight the reason why people would want their product MyBunjee. MyBunjee is an attachable bunjee cord which slips onto a phone and then can be attached to an inside pocket or handbag in order for your phone not to hit the floor if it falls. The Dragons were impressed with the fact that the couple had already sold 90,000 units while they were all also intrigued when they discovered that Mark was a former headmaster while Emma used to work as a PA for Trinny and Susannah. When asked why they wanted the Dragons on board, Emma told them that they were yet to find a distributor in the UK and were hoping to use the Dragons’ contacts in order to do this. Peter then shocked the couple when he revealed that his company marketed a very similar product but had to concede that their bunjee was a lot better. Hilary was the first to make them an offer and said that she could help them find the distributors that they wanted offering them the £70,000 that they wanted but asking for 20% in return which was double what the couple had asked for. Duncan undercut Hilary and, for only the second time in the show’s ten year history, offered them the full amount of money for the 10% that they wanted to give away. Peter already knew that he was the Dragon that the couple wanted, due to him being an expert in the industry, but wanted a massive 35% share in their company. After Theo pulled out citing a lack of enthusiasm for the product, Debra put an offer in at the last moment wanting a 15% share of the business in return for her investment. The couple had the obligatory short conversation before claiming that they wanted to go with Peter but felt the amount he wanted in the business was a little too much. Peter then presented several valid reasons why he should have 35% of the company and eventually the couple relented going into business with him and ultimately getting the contacts they needed. While I do agree with the assertion that Peter’s offer was a bit steep, seeing as they could’ve gone with Duncan’s much lower proposal, he was blatantly the Dragon they wanted as an investor and his knowledge of the market will prove invaluable while attempting to find a distributor in the UK.

A party entered the den as we saw a mobile DJ behind his booth with two young girls dancing and one complaining that she could go on no longer as her feet were hurting due to her high heels. Luckily the DJ Mark Shepherd had a solution with his creation It-Soles a new brand of insoles that use a gel formula to make the feet feel fresher so then the girls could go dancing all night long. Mark wanted £50,000 for a 15% in his company however Peter wasn’t impressed claiming that the DJ hadn’t done anything new however he was shouted down by Mark who had a patent pending on the toe ridge. Debra meanwhile had sampled the product and wasn’t happy as she told Mark it was pushing her foot out of the shoe adding that she feels that the problem he’s trying to solve has already been done more elegantly. Hilary agreed with Debra saying that the It-Sole provides instability in the shoe while Theo was shocked to hear that Mark had 2,000 units at home that he hadn’t managed to shift in the last year. When Mark told the Dragons he wanted their marketing and branding expertise they didn’t seem impressed with Duncan the first to pull out after seeing the venture as too risky though he did encourage Mark to keep doing what he was doing. Debra was still unimpressed pulling out after telling Mark that he hadn’t given anyone a reason to switch from the tried and tested product with Peter following her basing his decision on the bad consumer feedback he’d heard from the women. Theo wasn’t convinced with Mark as a businessman while Hilary had the last say launching into a massive diatribe by claiming that Mark wasn’t a marketer as he was too laid back and that he didn’t have the tenacity or focus he needed to become a successful entrepreneur. I do feel that Hilary was a little harsh however Mark’s prospects were doomed once she and Debra starting criticising the It-Soles for not doing their purpose. It appears as if Mark is taking Duncan’s advice and cracking on but hopefully he’s also taken Hilary’s words on board even though I felt she went a little over-the-top.

Luke and Christopher
The final pitch tonight came from Luke Booth and his rather young looking uncle Christopher Eves who wanted £50,000 for a 10% stake in their food and drink carrier business P4ck. Their pitch was incredibly dry with Christopher looking visibly shaken throughout and at one point he really struggled to get his words out. Essentially they did amp up what they’d already done by telling the Dragons that they were in talks with a major fast food retailer, presumably McDonalds, about them using their packaging while a major stadium also trialled their drinks carrier. Theo started off the questioning by asking the boys what they’d done that was so unique and although they tried their best he didn’t seem convinced when he commented that they hadn’t exactly reinvented the wheel. Peter did see something special in them however when Debra tried to understand the structure of their business she realised that they didn’t have the greatest knowledge of their business model. After hearing more from the boys he wasn’t sure what exactly their business was about and he wasn’t prepared to take the gamble so he told them he was out. As always Theo wanted to get a feel for the people and discovered that Christopher used to work for a British Sports car manufacturer while Luke had been trying to get the company off the ground since graduating. Impressed by their credentials Theo made the boys an offer claiming he was investing in them by giving them the full money for a 35% stake in whatever they produced. Debra and Hilary both agreed that the boys weren’t worth a punt while Peter was impressed by them but didn’t want to take a risk claiming that they had the right investor in Theo. The boys desperately tried to whittle down Theo’s offer but eventually subsided and got an investor who will help guide them through the world of business. I’m actually fairly surprised that the duo managed to get an offer at all as their pitch was quite weak and their lack of business structure was something the Dragons rarely let pitchers get away with. Overall though I do think Theo has taken them on as a pet project and I’m under the impression that he wants to nurture their creativity to come up with some very marketable ideas.

While I was fairly bored by all three of tonight’s main pitches I once again wish that I’d seen some of the smaller pitches in more detail. Take for example the case of The Amazings a website set up for more mature people to impart their skills on the young something the Dragons didn’t want to invest in as they felt it should remain as a non-profit organisation. My favourite by far though had to be Danny and Phil who cook using a car bonnet and call it the Car-B-Q a product which I would’ve invested in straight away but the Dragons oddly didn’t offer the pair any money. As next week is the final show I’m hoping that we get to see a few more entertaining pitches as tonight’s show did very little for me apart from make me wonder if every series of Dragon’s Den needs to be twelve episodes long.
Did you enjoy tonight’s Dragon’s Den? What was your favourite pitch? Leave Your Comments Below.