A decidedly ‘draining’ Dragons’ Den

I’m not really sure where to start with this episode. There were definitely common lessons to be learned like, if you’re going to make the effort to get into your car and drive to the Den then:

1. Try and remember how much your business turns over if you’re going to ask someone to sink tens of thousands of pounds into it. In fact, try and remember something about your financials that might incentivise the Dragons to put their hands in their pockets, surely this has got to help?
2. Just because the Dragons have ‘loads-a-money’, it doesn’t mean that when you turn up they are going to give it away. Knowing your market and trying to quantify it should really be a vital part of building your case – and it would stop me sitting and squirming at the embarrassment of people not having any hard facts to back up their predications/claims/arguments.
3. Don’t wear orange and use sarcasm as a sales tool.

OK so point three is a little pitch-specific, but if you’ve seen Dragons’ Den this week, you’ll know exactly which disastrous duo I’m referring to. For those of you that have missed all the action, I am referring to inventor Richard and his sidekick Steve. Both initially appeared just mis-guided as they walked in wearing co-ordinated orange and black outfits to introduce their “multi-cut saw horse.” Not an actual horse you understand, or indeed a saw for that matter, but a device used to secure wood whilst it is being cut, in order you for to cut multiple logs at one time.

Now apart from generally ignoring the advice in points one and two above, inventor Richard took it a step further and, after some basic questions from Jones, Rich told them that he “was impressed with the pluck” of all the Dragons for, what boiled down to, challenging his knowledge of the log market and his somewhat phantom figures.
Obviously if he didn’t think that was a mistake, then that’s his prerogative but I thought it was a bit of a boob. What amounted to sarcastically squaring up to the Den was never going to get him a wad of the green stuff. Funnily enough, his comments irritated our Dragons a touch. Bannatyne said, “I’m not impressed with you telling us how to run a profitable business,” with Linney adding the presentation was “rubbish” and that Rich’s “biggest issue” was “himself”. Jones got the last word, of course, telling the dappy duo it was an “appalling pitch”.

In the post-Den interview Richard got to share his opinion of the Dragons in return: “I would help them out in a life and death situation but I wouldn’t put a slate on their roof for a tenner.” Does that clear things up for anyone? Me neither.

So, from making the biggest boob of the evening to measuring the size of your boobies. A sister act and a plastic surgeon made up a trio running a bra-fitting business, and they were hoping that they had the answer to ill-fitting bras. The product on offer was basically a tape measure that women were to use to measure themselves accurately for a bra, so I wasn’t exactly impressed. The trio clearly enjoyed dramatic expression as, apart from pointing out that 80% of women wear the wrong bra size, they also said that this issue created “devastating physical and psychological problems”.

Personally I can’t see that wearing the wrong size bra would cause me any massive long term harm. Perhaps if I squashed my pair of double Ds into an A cup, it might cause me some discomfort and a serious case of ‘double boob’ and if I stuck them in a double G cup, I suspect I’d have a rather embarrassing case of ‘droopy boobs’ or, worse, ‘saggy boobs’. But realistically, I think me and many other women know enough not to endure some sort of long term pain or mis-shaping from not noticing we’ve got the wrong bra on so, as the programme noted, the product was all a bit of a “storm in a D-cup”.

Uninterestingly, what is useful in a storm is a darn good drain, so lucky for us we had the most enthusiast entrepreneurial drain duo we are ever likely to see on primetime TV, and possibly the only duo. I won’t explain their easy lift drain system because I don’t get it and, if you’re being honest, you probably don’t care. BBC2 must have thought we all would have a micro interest in the subject though as Bob and Steve took up an entire 14 minutes of the programme. Twitter was alive with drain-related puns, and even Bannatyne couldn’t resist, announcing, “It’s just money down the drain. I’m out.”

And Bannatyne was out again with my favourite failures of the evening, husband and wife crafties Kate and Nigel. Pitching for investment to develop a range of five ‘Make A Way’ kits for consumers to buy and then make a product themselves, such as the lampshade friend Sarah was making in the corner of the room, Kate and Nigel tried to capture the Dragons’ more creative side. Running craft retail outlet and workshop businesses already and making a pretty good success of their ventures to date, a majority of the Den seemed positive at first, but it soon disintegrated. Floundering over figures led Jones to tell them he “was losing the will to live,” and soon everyone was out.

So where was the success this week I hear you cry? Well, there was one. Scottish husband and wife team Cheryl and Michael were focused and personable, and after a £50k investment for a 20% stake in their YogaBellies business. Nowhere near as naff as it initially sounded, they’d already got 60 franchisees across the globe, £40k cash in the bank and some pretty healthy projections for the next few years. In fact, they nearly evaded investment for being too composed and together.

Luckily gym-God Bannatyne stepped up with an offer, even though he admitted he didn’t think they needed a Dragon. Cheryl and Michael negotiated a bit and a cheque was theirs. No doubt they were the only people jumping for joy after the show, happily though they’ll be no chance of accidental injury as undoubtedly the YogaBellies founders will have had a good stretch.

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About Clare Bampton

Clare Bampton has nearly 20 years' experience in PR and marketing and founded Derbyshire-based Bampton Communications Limited seven years ago following a career including Lloyds TSB, The Boots Company, TNT and British Waterways. Bampton provides practical, value-for-money PR and marketing services to a wide range of SMEs and marketing professionals across the UK.