Sunday marked the end of the latest run of BBC Two's Dragons' Den with rookie mistakes and over-evaluations a running theme. Ahrani Logan, Enterprise Nation member and CEO and co-founder of Peapodicity, an award-winning EdTech using augmented reality (AR) to bring science to life through the app AugmentifyIt, pulls out the key business lessons.
I love Dragons' Den. You just never know what you are going to find, it’s like an entrepreneur treasure trove.
This particular episode seemed particularly ruthless with valuations, figures and intellectual property featuring strongly.
First up, Australian baker and self-appointed chief temptation officer, Sarah Hilary, with Be Tempted gluten-free cakes.
With her temptation officer in tow, the Dragons were first offered a sample pack of Be Tempted.
Sweetening up the Dragons seems like a good tactic from an emotional return point of view, but then it quickly got down to business. Sarah was struggled to recall her figures when put on the spot.
Business lesson one: Know your figures.
"Rule number one of the Den; you've got to know your figures!"
Business lesson two: Have realistic forecasts.
When Peter Jones, Sarah’s preferred Dragon, began to give her a hard time, you knew things were not looking too good. He rightly wanted to understand her slow growth figures.
Touker Suleyman bowed out due to a conflict of interest with another brownie company and Jenny Campbell’s feedback involved 'the sniff test'. She wanted to know why the valuation figure was so high.
Both Deborah Meaden and Peter felt that the valuation was crazy for what seemed, as Peter put it, "a cottage industry".
Business lesson three: Valuations need to sit with reality.
Finally, Tej Lalvani gave some positive feedback and felt that, with a Dragon on board, Sarah could do better.
The high risk saw him ask for a higher equity, £75,000 for 40% of the business, compared to the 5% that Sarah was offering for the same amount. This slashed the value of the company by over £1m.
Sarah negotiated around revenue targets to reduce the percentage equity after year two, so that hitting year one and two targets would see Tej’s equity in the company reduced to 30%.
Business lesson four: Always negotiate!
Next up, retired millionaire engineer Nigel Mills who pitched TECAngel, a home sensor monitoring unit for the elderly.
He was seeking £90,000 from the Dragons for a 12% equity share
A sensor and text-based system to help the elderly live independently, the Dragons did not take to this for a number of reasons.
From a business point of view, the entrepreneur pitched that it would save people care home costs with the unit retailing at £600.
From a lifestyle point of view, the product would keep texting the family member when their elderly parent or relative stopped moving for over an hour, whilst in a room.
This would be unsustainable as a care feature and when Peter suggested that an improvement was linking the unit to the emergency services, Nigel surprisingly disagreed and did not want to change his product.
Business lesson five: Always listen to feedback and aim to improve your product.
Business lesson six: Protect your intellectual property.
Deborah Meaden called out Nigel on the name of the product as there was discrepancy on what it was labelled as and what he was calling it, ARCAngel vs TECAngel.
ARC was already a registered name, and Nigel explained he was in the process of changing to the name TEC.
My personal thoughts here was all products need an overhaul before you trade, especially if you have millions in the bank already to correct this. And Why would you arrive on Dragons' Den before you were able to rebrand?
Business lesson seven: Don't make rookie mistakes!
Next up, inventor and eco-entrepreneur Nigel Bamford with Waterblade. His gadget uses science to spread the surface tension of water to create a single stream and use less water.
He wanted £85,000 for 10%.
With an impressive trial from Royal Bank of Scotland that saw a 60% reduction in water consumption, this was soon followed by the reality that some water companies did not seem as keen to fit the device.
Deborah spoke about patents but could not justify an offer as she would have wanted half the company. Peter did not seem happy with the slow flow of turnover. Touker wanted larger contracts to have already been signed up.
Business lesson eight: Large and consistent growth in turnover and product volume are the most attractive to investors.
Finally, Rik Beardsall shaking up the protein shaker bottle market with ShakeSphere.
He wanted £75,000 for 10%.
Again figures seemed like huge leaps but Rik was able to deliver impressive orders from the US.
With advice to improve the bottle from Tej, Rik landed two Dragons with Deborah and Tej offering the money for 15% each.
The Dragons felt that Rik, himself an award-winning athlete, was investable.
Business lesson nine: Be investable. People invest in people.
Business lesson 10: In business, if you don't ask, you don't get.
And so ends another series of Dragons' Den. Big thanks to all the Enterprise Nation members who have shared their insights. Read all the reviews below.
- Episode one: Business is about confidence. But not too much
- Episode two: The importance of likeability in business
- Episode three: Knowing how to negotiate and when to stop
- Episode four: Live and love your brand and people will learn to love it too
- Episode five: Cut the emotions and get down to business
- Episode six: It might be boring but know your numbers!
- Episode seven: It's always about numbers and but it's not just about money
At the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs on 20 October in Bristol, Rob Law from Trunki, who got turned down on the show but has gone on to achieve massive success, will interview Julianne Ponan of Creative Nature Superfoods, who got investment but ended up turning it down. Book your ticket now!