Dragons’ Den returns to BBC Two this Sunday, 24 July, at 9pm for its 14th series, with a fresh queue of eccentric inventors and wannabe entrepreneurs ready to lug their goods in front of a panel in the hope of becoming the next Reggae Reggae sauce.
In the same way entrepreneurship has changed since the programme’s 2005 debut, the line-up of Dragons has evolved too. In recent years, stalwarts Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden have been joined by Moonpig.com founder Nick Jenkins, Bombay Bicycle Club owner Sarah Willingham and Hawes & Curtis owner Touker Suleyman.
This year, however, the panel remains unchanged. And, as the story of GripIt Fixings’ Jordan Daykin – told in the June issue of Director – has shown (the £80,000 investment he received in 2014 has now soared to a £2.7m turnover), Dragons’ Den is still more than capable of generating an enduring business success.
Grip-It angel Meaden also proved her investor prowess when she predicted a bright future in Neil and Laura Westwood’s portable whiteboard “in a roll”. In 2008 the husband-and-wife team attracted £100,000 of investment from Meaden and fellow Dragon Theo Paphitis in return for 40 per cent equity in their Magic Whiteboard business. The product was so successful that in September 2014 the Westwoods bought back their shares, giving the investors an £800,000 return and the couple full control of the business once more.
Of course not all investments agreed on the show go forward off-screen. In an interview with Director entrepreneur Carrie Bate revealed that she rebuffed a £100,000 Dragon investment for her Little Coffee Bag brand in 2012. It now makes £2m a year. Then there are countless other companies whose pitches floundered before garnering huge success – children’s luggage firm Trunki or takeaway website Hungry House, for example.
As debatable as Dragons’ Den’s overall contribution to British enterprise might be, it’s arguably more influential in showing aspiring entrepreneurs what not to do: see the awkward pitches for such inventions such as the DriveSafe glove (to be worn as a reminder of what side of the road you’re driving on) and The Thingy (a device stopping gardeners injuring their backs while digging).
Whether you love it, or simply watch the pitches out of morbid fascination, it’s clear that the show won’t be saying “I’m out” anytime soon.
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For an analysis of every successful pitch since Dragons’ Den started, visit tigermobiles.com/dragons-den
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