If there's one thing that's always been clear on Dragons' Den, it's that the five members of the panel are ultimately there for one reason: to make money.
That may be a pretty obvious statement, but rarely has it been as perfectly demonstrated as it was in the latest episode of the show - and it was evident from the outset.
Graffiti artist David Brown was first up, and his design tool which enabled users to create their own street art style wallpaper certainly got the Dragons thinking. Yet while Peter Jones hinted he was tempted to make an offer, the absence of a profit-driven business model meant the Graffiti Geezer left empty-handed.
The key is to accurately detail the bundles of money the panel could make from your business - after that, it's all about clinging on to as much autonomy as possible.
It was a shame to see the panel overlook an entrepreneur so focused on building a community-based venture - but as Kelly Hoppen put it, social conscience and a lack of preparation meant David missed out on the money he needed. It was a harsh comment, but made clear that the Dragons are looking for tangible pound signs in the pitches.
The tables were completely turned when Carrie Bate stepped up to offer the Dragons a stake in her business - The Little Coffee Bag Company. With confident figures, a strong foundation and detailed plans, Carrie showed the panel that she was just as investable as her product - namely the teabag-cum-instant coffee bag.
Despite Duncan and Kelly's decision to pass up the opportunity, the consensus among Deborah, Piers and Peter was that money could certainly be made. With such an attractive proposition on the table, the three Dragons showed some of the nous that earned them their millions, all making Carrie the same offer of £100,000 for 33.3%. The ball was in the entrepreneur's court.
It was an interesting situation. In recent episodes Piers had tried to undercut his rivals in a bid to secure a deal - successfully in the case of Mainstage Travel, but not so when it came to Amer Hasan's minicabit.com. This time the cloud computing guru was less eager to make a better offer than his counterparts, but for a second consecutive week he lost out to the two Den veterans he's sandwiched between on the panel. Peter and Deborah agreed to split the investment and ensured they both got a slice of Carrie's profits.
Carrie handled things well, but dealing with rival Dragon bids is tough for anyone who's ever ventured into the Den. When the panel members start challenging each other to secure a deal, the question is just as much about the Dragon that's making the offer as it is the money that's up for grabs.
Ultimately, Deborah and Peter were able to explain the expertise and connections they'd bring to Carrie's business - and that's what enabled them to beat Piers over the finish line.
But sometimes just being a Dragon is enough, and in many cases entrepreneurs have made greater sacrifices than they planned to in order to get one onside. Vini and Bal Aujla initially said they weren't prepared to surrender any more than a 25% stake of their Rustic Indian curry sauce business, but eventually gave Piers 30% due to the impetus he'd bring to their venture. Simply having a Dragon on board is sometimes a priceless asset.
As the latest show demonstrated, the key is to accurately detail the bundles of money the panel could make from your business - after that, it's all about clinging on to as much autonomy as possible.
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 email@example.com
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