At times I feel that Dragon’s Den is nothing more than a variety show which, in order to look more serious, is masquerading as a business programme. For example instead of the Britain’s Got Talent buzzers it has the ‘I’m Out’ catchphrase however the panel still watch a lot of ‘acts’ prancing about in order to get an investment for their respective businesses. Tonight we saw dancing and a martial arts act as well as several other wild pitches that were designed to get an offer which is the Dragon’s Den equivalent of getting through to Boot Camp.
Marie & Margot
To push the Britain’s Got Talent comparison further we kicked off tonight’s show with a dog act as Marie Saul entered the den with her dog Margot. Marie’s trick was to get Margot to eat some ice cream. Except the ice cream she’d invented formed the cornerstone of her company.
Marie was after £60,00 for 20% of her company, Margot and Billy, which specialised in ice treats for canines. She revealed that she’d already had some success selling 500 tubs at Crufts. The ice treats split the Dragons: some were tempted to invest while others thought the product wasn’t good enough and the market too small.
Duncan in particular was fairly angry at Marie telling her she’d wasted nine months of her life and he was the first to pull out. Peter soon followed him after telling Marie that she’d not done enough research on her competitors. Hilary saw a future in Margot and Billy especially as she’d seen dogs enjoying ice cream in Miami and thought what a good idea it was at the time. Hilary thought she knew the market and was willing to offer Marie all the money for 30% of the company and with Theo pulling out only Debra was left. Debra was already thinking several steps ahead already thinking about how she could sell the company to a bigger chain and due to her contacts in the industry she wanted 40% of Margot and Billy. I personally thought Hilary’s offer was more generous however Marie decided to do the deal with Debra obviously seeing the potential in an exit strategy herself.
Strictly Come Dragoning?
Nick Gallagher-Hughes introduced a bit of ballroom dancing into the den as we watched a young couple twirling around to ‘Cry Me A River.’ Nick wanted a very specific £97,500 for a 15% share in his topline dance frame which helped aspiring ballroom dancers perfect their core rotation and get their posture spot on.
It was clear that Nick knew his market as he’d been selling the product at trade fairs since 2010. He’s had positive feedback about the product and has made £5,000 to date. So far so positive. However when the Dragons started to drill down into the figures the discovered that Nick had been making a loss up to this point due to the high costs of the trade fairs. A particularly grumpy Duncan started slagging off trade fairs in general.
The Dragons started to pull out as they felt the market was too niche and he was asking for too much money. Duncan told Nick he was in the den on a wing and a prayer. It was only Peter Jones, who’d sampled the product himself, who had some kind words for Nick telling him if he was asking for less money he would’ve invested but the high amount he wanted was too much of a risk and ultimately the ballroom guru left with no money.
Though the talent show comparison doesn’t really apply to Dustin Toland’s product it did provoke a revelation when Hilary told him that she wasn’t into camping. Who would’ve ever thought that?
As you can imagine from that statement Dustin’s product was a wigwam tent that didn’t need any poles in order to erect it and he’d also given the inventive name of the Gigwam. Toland wanted a whopping £100,000 for a 15% share in the company in order to produce more Gigwams and a smaller version for kids the inventively named Kidwam. Dustin also revealed to the Dragons that he’d been approached by a leading catalogue based high street retailer, presumably Argos, to have the exclusive rights to the brand.
As with the majority of those pitching to the Dragons, Dustin’s pitch slightly fell apart when they found out that he hadn’t yet got a patent for the design, though it was pending, which caused Peter Jones particular bother as he reckoned a competitor could easily reproduce the product. Hilary also pulled out following her revelation while Duncan believed that serious campers wouldn’t be interested in the product. Debra though saw something in Dustin’s product as she rightly understood that at festivals creating space is a valuable element and believed that the Gigwam would create that space.
As someone who’s been to my fair share of festivals in the past I agreed with Debra although I thought the 45% she wanted was a little harsh. Dustin was torn when Theo also asked for the same amount of the company. In the end Dustin declined both offers though I think if he was smart he maybe could’ve persuaded one of them to go down to 40%. In the end he left without any investment.
Finally we met Henry and Philip Blake who wanted £75,000 for 10% in their company Woodblocks, which are basically wooden blocks that slot together to create different structures including raised garden beds and retaining walls. Philip initially started the business and sold his product to garden centres however they doubled the price, something he wasn’t happy about, and when son Henry came on board he updated the website so the orders came in once again.
When the Dragons started to question the father and son team they found out that the wood came from the family’s saw mill business that itself turned over a healthy profit. As the Dragons started to make their decisions both Duncan and Hilary felt that it would take too long to see a return on their investments so they both reluctantly pulled out of the deal. Debra and Theo had a different issue namely that as a minority investor they felt that they would be overruled on any decisions as it was a family business. With their fate solely relying on Peter Jones, Philip then piped up telling him that they also had £200,000 of stock something that put a smile on Peter’s face and led him to offer the full amount of money for 25% of the business. It didn’t take long for the Blakes to make their minds up and were very enthusiastic in taking Peter’s offer making this a fairly successful day in the den.
Despite these final two pitches not fitting in with the overall talent show elements the small filler pitches more than made up for it. For example we met Stuart Davis who wanted an investment in his MMA tournament which was outlined using a Thai Boing demonstration. Later on we also met two ambitious Eastern European gentlemen who were pitching toffee vodka something all the Dragons sampled which essentially became a comedy segment. As I mentioned then this episode felt like a variety show with many of the act raising a smile and I felt overall this was the most entertaining episode of this series so far.
What did you think to this episode? What was your favourite pitch? Leave Your Comments Below.