Dragons’ Den review: Offers fail as entrepreneurs fend off bloodthirsty Dragons

posted on 18/02/2014 10:45:31 by Dan O'Sullivan

The Dragons' attempts to grab an inflated equity share were rebuffed by Baavet.

Roger and Lesley were somewhat sheepish when asked to surrender 50% of their business

Watching the latest episode of Dragons' Den was a frustrating experience, as all the entrepreneurs who faced the panel ultimately left with no investment in their respective businesses.  

While this would usually be a result of the business moguls being unimpressed with the opportunities on offer, this time the problem was different - the Dragons were asking for a higher percentage share than the business people in front of them were prepared to give away.

Money money money

This was an issue that Roger and Lesley Payne encountered when they asked for £130,000 in return for 15% of their venture - a wool duvet brand called Baavet, with the quirky name used to reflect the sheep that supply the material for the product.

The Dragons were certainly eager to find out more about the business - so much so that Peter Jones even treated himself to a quick lie-down to try out the duvet. However, despite Jones' interest, Kelly, Piers and Deborah ruled themselves out of any deal.

One pitch that caught the Dragons' attention was delivered by Roomii Toys creators Filip Devogeleer and Jessica Wang. Their invention - toyboxes on wheels - bore a striking resemblance to Trunki.

Yet Duncan and Peter were keen to get on board. They agreed a proposal that would see each of them pay £65,000 in return for a 25% share.

With Roger and Lesley being asked to sacrifice 50% of a company they'd built from scratch, they opted to decline the offer and focus on other ways to raise the precious capital they need to take the next step.

Wheeling but not dealing

Another pitch that caught the Dragons' attention was delivered by Roomii Toys creators Filip Devogeleer and Jessica Wang. Their invention - toyboxes on wheels - bore a striking resemblance to Trunki, a product the Dragons famously neglected to invest in back in 2006.

Given that Trunki has gone on to become a successful and fast-growing business, you'd think the panel would jump at the chance to get involved with something similar. However, with questions surrounding profitability and margins blighting the picture, Piers, Kelly and Deborah quickly ruled themselves out.

It was left to Duncan and Peter once again - and it was Bannatyne who showed his hand first, offering £35,000 for 20% of the business on the condition that Jones would match him.

Peter eventually declined to get on board, but if he had taken the plunge Filip and Jessica would have been asked to hand over 40% of their company. We'll never know what would have happened, but 40% is a huge slice of equity to sacrifice when you consider the pair were initially offering the Dragons 15%, and there's every possibility they'd have turned it down - or accepted it with a degree of reluctance.

Wasted opportunities

The trials of Roomii Toys and Baavet summed up a trying week in the Den, which also saw bags of early promise from Benjamin Mougarbel's hot chocolate brand before Peter picked his plans apart. Similarly, app designer Karoline Gross appeared to be an archetypal businesswoman, yet the Dragons ruled that she wouldn't make the money she was expecting to from her online catalogue technology, Smartzer.

The Dragons were clearly in conservative moods this week - perhaps we'll see them willing to take a risk or two next time around. As for Baavet and Roomii Toys, let's hope they go on to have no regrets about the fact the Dragons' didn't get their claws deep into their businesses. That shouldn't be difficult if they have even half the success of Trunkii.

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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