Enterprise Nation member Dr. Pragya Agarwal, founder of The Art Tiffin and Hedge and Hog Prints, pulls out several business lessons from the latest episode of Dragons' Den.

Another Sunday night, and another night working my way through a long list of deadlines and things to do. I’m sure many entrepreneurs will identify with that. 

So, it was actually a pleasure to have a break and watch Dragons’ Den seriously for once rather than it playing in the background while I tapped away on my laptop.

Driven Media 

Young entrepreneur Ed Hollands, an Enterprise Nation member, was certainly very impressive, and came across as very like-able and invest-able (as the Dragons asserted several times!).  

He had a business idea, and he went for it. He had the drive and the motivation and it clearly showed.

Touker Suleyman was very generous with his advice about printing, which showed how valuable mentorship can be.  

Ed was very clear on his niche of advertising on trucks, but he stumbled over his figures.

But despite that and the early stage of his business, Jenny Campbell offered the £30,000 he wanted for 20% his business. Ed accepted without any deliberation.

Business lessons: No matter what your age (well, we can’t all be baby-faced!), it is the focus, determination and passion that truly matters. It also helps to be like-able and personable. 

But, the most important lessons here are know your figures, and that quick decision-making can make all the difference in the business world.

Love Raw 

This is a brand very close to my own heart as it sells vegan, organic healthy food, snack bars and drinks.

Founder Rimi Thapar presented a very confident and well-rehearsed pitch and the brand has already been launched in Sainsbury’s.

Personal problems led to a setback in business which meant it showed a net loss which caused some concern.

Tej Lalvani grilled her on manufacturing costs, showing that the margins were very low. The quality of food meant that the manufacturing costs were high.

Rimi was unable to recall sales figures which caused a set back to a pitch that was going well. Deborah Meaden wasn’t happy with the branding inconsistencies and Peter Jones didn’t like 80% of her products.

Touker made a half offer and asked if Tej would match it. Tej wasn’t interested though as he wasn’t keen on the taste and thought that the products wouldn’t stand out in a crowded market but he was most concerned about the narrow margins which wouldn’t leave much for marketing.

Deborah was very interested and made an offer. She didn’t think that the valuations were accurate and asked for 30% equity, six times what Rimi originally asked for. Rimi was unwilling to give away more than 15%, a deal wasn’t done.

Business lessons: Branding is extremely important. It is crucial to identify and focus on what is unique about your brand, and make it consistent across the range.

A huge range is not important; rather It is more important to know your niche and identify the best sellers.

If selling in retail, it is worth considering how the products will be displayed, where the eye line of the customer will be, and focus on the colours and logos that will help you stand out amongst the other brands. 

But, the overall message here was also that it is your business, and you have to stick to your guns and your instinct sometimes.

Magic Link Handwriting 

Lee Dein, who runs a company for children that helps children improve their handwriting, asked for 60,000 in return for a 10% stake.

She is clearly very passionate about what she does, and the new font that she has developed that helps young children learn how to write beautifully and easily.

With several years of experience as a teacher, she clearly has the knowledge of the field. The entrepreneur was, however, unable to justify the valuation of her business, and its scalability.

There was also some confusion about patents, and concerns amongst the Dragons about the business’ potential and risks. 

As someone who grew up on handwriting workbooks in India, and was taught perfect cursive writing, it is very difficult for me to really understand the additional value of her new font without trying it first.

Business lessons: Bring your own unique story and angle to the pitch but it is ultimately about the product or services and how they will benefit the potential customers.

Do your research carefully before going in front of investors, and have a clear business plan for growth.

It is also important to be able to listen and learn from others, while still maintaining ownership and passion for your business. 

Tru-Tension 

A very confident pitch by Chris Frappell made me sit up and take notice.

This business is clearly driven by his own knowledge, experience and passion for the motorcycling industry. He brought his patented motorcycle chain tensioning tool, and a range of accessories, and asked for £75000 in return for a 10% stake.

Chris knew his figures well, demonstrated the need for the product and with the company already working with Halfords and in talks with retailers in the US, he also showed a clear plan for growth.

But Peter and Tej, however, were concerned about the size of the market and whether they would be able to add any value.

Jenny was interested as a keen biker and asked for 20%. 

Environmentalist Deborah questioned the use of harmful aerosol in the product. She was clearly very interested to work with Chris on making it environmentally friendly, and asked for 25%.

Touker asked for 30% as he could offer a tie-in with one of his existing businesses and connection to the bicycle world.

There was some negotiation, and Chris and Touker agreed on 25%.

Business lessons: It is very important to believe in your own product, but also have a very good understanding of your niche, the customer profile, and the industry that the product is based in.

A confident pitch clearly showing the benefits of the product helps, and so does knowing the past figures.

It is very important to have a plan for growth. Today, more than ever, it is crucial to understand the environmental impact of your products and services.While pitching to investors, have a clear idea of how far you are willing to go and be flexible. 

More Dragons' Den content:

Have your say

No-one has commented on this article yet.

Be the first to comment
Icon events

Inspiring events

Come along to one of our networking events, start-up classes or expert workshops.

Browse events

Latest articles

Browse all posts