Sydney Chasin, Enterprise Nation member and founder of lil'POP, a popped sorghum snack which is nutrient rich, water resource saving, and absolutely delicious, shares the business lessons from the latest epsiode of Dragons' Den.
What better start to the week than pulling out key business lessons and inspiration from the addictive, yet terrifying show, Dragons' Den.
As I sit comfortably on the couch, I hold the nerves for the courageous entrepreneurs as they confidently pitch to the panel of Dragons. Kudos to each and every one!
First up, Ben Muller and Andy Jeffrey from Dockham Bay Beach Towel
Ben and Andy are ex-bankers who found themselves bored of the finance world and wanting to build a business related to their passion, travel. What could that be? A towel business!
Their towels are "reinvented", made with microfibre, stay dry, and are larger than the average towel.
These gentlemen rocked up to the Den in flip flops, leaving the suits for their past lives. Because of this attire, it was clear that they were passionate and stood behind their brand.
Lesson one: Live and love your brand and people will learn to love it too.
While their numbers and stats demonstrated a strong track record, the Dragons didn't seem to be enthused by a towel business.
When Dragon Peter Jones challenged the entrepreneur's business idea, Ben and Andy did a fantastic job defending their venture.
Before diving into their response, they made an excellent effort to understand and relate to Peter. “Really good point,” then rolled into their defense.
Lesson two: Listen and relate! Don't become defensive before defending yourself.
Originally pitching for £75,000 investment for 5% equity, these beach-loving-boys closed a £75,000 deal with Dragon Deborah Meadon for 10% equity.
Second up, Phil Danashyer from Thirsti
Phil is an innovative university student who pitched his patented fluid monitoring puck to the Dragons. Thirsti Puck is a device that gets dropped into any cold liquid, such as water, squash, milk, you name it!
The device reminds you to drink more water with a smartphone application.
As each Dragon expressed their concern, Phil articulated his response well and clearly positioned Thristi’s unique selling point.
One question about competing products arose, but Phil knew all the details about their product and his.
Lesson three: Know your competition and clearly articulate your USP.
Seeking £65,000 investment for 10% equity, the Dragons opted out of the offer. Phil left the Den with his chin up ready to prove the Dragons wrong.
Third up, Neville Howles and Derrick Payne from Dubble Bubble
Neville and Derrick are packaging industry experts with a combined total of 80 years experience.
This duo with their 40 year friendship created Dubble Bubble, a new innovative light weight packaging that reduces waste and utilises air, ultimately creating a protective bubble around goods.
They have their IP in place and clearly demonstrated an industry changing idea.
Unfortunately the Dragons had concern for the stage of development. With no sales record or potential customers it was a harsh 'no' from the Den.
Overall, the Dragons liked the idea and found Neville and Derrick to be credible and ambitious entrepreneurs, but timing wasn't right.
Lesson four: Timing! Be sure to approach investors at the appropriate time.
Fourth up, Sarah Agar-Brennen from Love Bomb Cushions
Sarah is a serial entrepreneur with an incredible and experienced team behind Love Bomb Cushions, which is an emoji cushion and charms company, owning the license to use the emoticons.
After a seamless pitch from Sarah, Deborah Meadon questioned why she wants investment from the Dragons.
Quick to respond, Sarah said "because you are better than me."
Deborah aggressively shut down Sarah’s comment: "Never say some is better than you. Maybe more connections, but never better."
Lesson five: Don't undersell yourself! Articulate what attributes you admire, but no one is ever "better" than you.
The Dragons questioned the ins and outs of Sarah's business with concerns about Love Bomb Cushion's past sales.
Sarah set out for £80,000 investment for 10% equity, but in the end negotiated a deal with Tej Lalvani and Jenny Campbell for £80,000 for 30% equity. These Dragons strongly believed in Sarah as an entrepreneur.
As the episode came to an end, Evan Davis, Dragons' Den narrator, commented: "It;s all about the head, of course, but the heart also has a part to play."
Lesson six: People back people. It isn't only what's in the head, it is also what's in the heart.
- 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
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!