Dragons' Den review: Deborah and Peter secure deal - but is there a twist in the Bobo Buddies tale?

posted on 04/03/2014 09:29:06 by Dan O'Sullivan

Will the Dragons live to regret their dealings with Bobo Buddies?

James ditched his Dragon buddies after getting a better offer elsewhere

Watching Dragons' Den can often be like waiting for a bus. You spend ages waiting for an offer to come along, and suddenly three arrive in quick succession.

That's exactly what happened to Bobo Buddies creator James Roupell on Sunday night, as the Dragons queued up to bid for a slice of his venture - a combined cuddly toy and blanket for young children.

Following a confident pitch, Peter and Deborah made a joint offer that was then trumped by Duncan. Piers and Kelly responded by proposing an even more attractive deal, and suddenly James had a big decision to make.

After some extremely tough negotiating that saw Duncan, Deborah and Peter all lower their initial demands in order to improve their chances, James opted to go with Peter and Deborah. The pair would split a 40% stake, and once they'd made their money back that would drop to 30%. But had the entrepreneur done the right thing?

It appeared the key aspect to the eventual deal was the opportunities that Deborah and Peter would bring to the table. Indeed, from a purely financial perspective Kelly and Piers' offer was the most attractive.

Numbers game

In securing the deal, James went through some of the most intense negotiations the Den has ever seen - partly because the multiple offers left him in such a strong position. Yet given that he had initially asked the Dragons for £50,000 in exchange for a 15% share in Bobo Buddies, surrendering 40% was a big step - especially when you consider his admission that he went into the Den prepared to give up no more than 25%.

It appeared the key aspect to the eventual deal was the opportunities that Deborah and Peter would bring to the table. Indeed, from a purely financial perspective Kelly and Piers' offer was the most attractive; they asked for a 30% stake with no caveats. While Peter and Deborah would only begrudgingly agree to drop to 30% once they'd made their money back from an initial 40% share, it was a price James reluctantly paid in order to get them on board.

Regrets

The Den can be an intimidating place, and despite the entrepreneur's impressive negotiating skills he was always likely to come off second best against the Dragons - something he quickly realised once he'd left.

Rather than let this lie, James sought advice from industry experts who had helped him out before. It transpires that he's decided to go back on the deal he struck in the Den - someone else has offered him the money he needs in the form of a loan, with no demands for equity to boot.

Peter and Deborah have accepted James' decision and wished him well with the business, but ultimately it's an unfortunate scenario that could have been avoided if the Dragons had been less intent on getting their claws in - something they've been increasingly intent on doing throughout the latest series. We'll be watching this space closely to see if the two Dragons live to regret their tough stance.

Missed opportunities

Yet it wasn't only Bobo Buddies that the millionaires may rue missing out on, as both Clear Notes and Cheeky Chompers seemed to be companies with bright futures. The only problem was that their plans and projections didn't quite have the extensive detail that is often needed to make the Dragons invest.

Clear Notes - a transparent post-it note that could be wiped and re-used - was praised for its innovative qualities, and things looked encouraging when creator John Macleod revealed some big deals were on the table. However, with nothing guaranteed the Dragons were reluctant to throw their hats in the ring.

It was a similar problem for Cheeky Chompers and their neckerchews - bibs designed for teething infants to chew. While creators Amy and Julie said an agreement with John Lewis was on the cards, nothing was down on paper - and with the pair touting some seemingly over-ambitious profit projections, the millionaire investors decided to back away.

Only time will tell if the Dragons should really regret letting some potential cash cows slip through their fingers, but the entrepreneurs on the latest instalment of the show certainly left them with plenty to think about. Indeed, with the series now at an end, many other missed opportunities could also come back to haunt the Dragons for the conservative approach they've adopted in the latest run of the show. 

Dan O'Sullivan

Dan O’Sullivan is Make It Cheaper's Web Content Manager, which means much of his time is dedicated to ensuring we have plenty of online material to help business owners understand the energy, insurance and telecoms industries. With years of experience working alongside SMEs, Dan is committed to making life as easy as possible for smaller firms. You can email Dan at dan.osullivan@makeitcheaper.com

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