Dragon’s Den Episode Two: Life’s a Beach for ‘Sandy’ Andy Robertson, Shazia and Yusuf Mustafa shine, Vicki Edmunds cooks up a storm but the team like Jeff and Colette Bell’s haircare the most!
Often when watching Dragon’s Den it is the innovative pitches that stick in the mind even if those delivering them don’t get any money from the investors at the end of the day. I think the most memorable pitch for the majority of Dragon’s Den viewers has to be from Levi Roots, arguably the most successful entrepreneur that has appeared on the show, as he came down those stairs singing and playing the guitar a truly awful introduction for his truly spectacular sauce.
We had several instances of that tonight kicking off with Welsh pensioner Vicki Edmunds who wanted £50,000 for a 15% share in her business which was essentially a website where travellers can log on and find some locals who would be willing to cook them dinner and give them information about the local area.
Vicki was very passionate about her business, imaginatively titled eatwithalocal.com, as she regaled the dragons with tales of her going to Goa and herself hosting an Australian student before cooking them some Welsh laverbread an example of what she’d cook up for any website members who came to her house for tea. As the omnipresent and utterly annoying announcer Evan Davies remarked ‘a jovial atmosphere doesn’t go down well in the den’ and soon the investors were asking this kindly old woman about figures and projected sales. Luckily her daughter was upstairs so she bellowed for Georgia to join her and in turn Georgia was able to give them some ways she’d thought that the business could expand into other marketplaces however one by one the dragons dropped out as they thought that the £50,000 wasn’t enough for eatwithalocal.com to become a profitable enterprise. Only Hilary Devey looked at all interested however she wanted a whopping 95% of the business while Georgia would only go to 50% meaning that the mother and daughter pair went back to the valleys with no money but with at least one more member for the website as Duncan Bannatyne claimed he’d join up as soon as he got home.
While Vicki and Georgia bought the pots and pans from home, married couple Shazia and Yusuf went one step further and got their young daughter to do some arts and crafts at a table while they were pitching their company entitled Third Door for which they needed £120,000 in return giving one dragon a 20% share. Third Door is a nursery-come-office where professionals can drop their youngsters off at a nursery before going upstairs to a fully-functioning office and coming back later in the day to pick up their tots. While some of the dragons initially liked the idea they became more dubious when hearing about the financial losses that the couple had suffered during their two years in the business thus far.
Moreover it didn’t seem that they were quite on the ball when quizzed about their profits with the biggest revelation being that the most profitable part of the business was the office rental while it was the nursery that was causing them to haemorrhage money. The dragons implored them to drop the nursery concept altogether but it was clear that that was the part of the business about which they were most passionate and as Shazia and Yusaf couldn’t see this all the dragons ended up out. Though none of them became part-owners in Third Door they still got something each as the couple’s daughter had been busy making them paper dragons for them to keep though I’m sure the majority of them ended up in the bin five minutes after the pitch had finished.
What we found interested is that Shazia and Yusuf have previously worked with former Dragon James Caan having won a business mentoring competition earlier this year.
Andy Robertson’s unique selling point was his quirky dress sense as well as the fact that he’d bought in a sand sculpture of a guy sitting in a sofa with him. Andy, known as Sandy for obvious reasons, wanted £100,000 for a 10% share in his business though it isn’t quite clear what that business was because after the pitch all I knew was that he wanted to do something involving sand furniture. After some further questioning it seemed that he wanted to create pop-up bars using his sand sculptures and from there make a profit from a business he valued at a million pounds. His biggest Dragon’s Den faux pas was that he didn’t have a business plan with Duncan placing the final nail in Sandy’s coffin by telling him that he doesn’t think he’d enjoy business. While it seems clear that Sandy was dreaming about his bar idea he does have an interesting back story which saw him go from being a homeless man to working for Brad Pitt and building sand sofas with Dexter Fletcher after he created his first ever sand sculpture on The Thames. There is definitely a business to be got from Sandy’s work however it is’t the beach bar that he so wanted and therefore no money was dished out here either.
Our last pitchers were Jeff and Colette Bell who were looking for a £75,000 investment for a 15% in their shampoo business however their pitch was the least eventful of the night. The Bells introduced Shampoo Heads a fun haircare range for young children with each bottle representing a character with an individual personality with whom the kids can relate. Though the couple were fairly dull they seemed to get their points across quite well and as they already had 41,000 orders from Boots it seemed that they were a viable investment option with each dragon in turn calling it a fantastic brand. Every dragon wanted in however none was willing to make an offer so the Bells went off into the corner to have a chinwag before arriving at the decision that they wanted both Theo and Hilary as their business partners which they both accepted agreeing to take 10% each and go halves on the £75,000. The fact that the least memorable pitch was the only one that got the investment of the dragons tells you that you must have a viable business as well as great attitude in order to get backing from the fearless five.
Sitting through this episode of Dragon’s Den to me felt like I was watching an episode of X-Factor where every audition was rubbish until the last singer who was really pretty good however I wonder how many people would want to sit through tons of bad singers for one good one? This was my thought here especially when watching the smaller segments of businesses that had no way of getting any money from the dragons, such as a pee-controlled video game or a personality test for dogs, as you’re already aware that these people will come away with no money before they have even finished pitching. I do find it hard to believe that people would come to the den without memorising all the facts to answer any question the dragons through at them or at least, in the case of Sandy Andy, having an idea of what you want your business to actually be. Though the pitches, and those delivering them, were on the whole entertaining I would’ve liked to have seen more people receiving investments rather than just those being turned down as it gets a tad repetitive. This week’s lesson seemed to be do your homework before entering the den as while a fun pitch may get some laughs it won’t get any money unless you have a decent business plan to back it up.
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