Dragons' Den review: Skinny Tan success as Piers and Kelly combine

posted on 12/08/2013 15:16:33 by Dan O'Sullivan

The self-tanning product stood out as the Dragons fought among themselves for a chance to invest in the company.

Kelly and Piers will be hoping for shining results after investing in Skinny Tan

Dragons' Den returned to our screens on Sunday night for an eleventh series, with new Dragons Kelly Hoppen and Piers Linney wasting no time in getting their first deal on the board.

The pair immediately showed the ambition and hunger that earned them their millions, jumping at the chance to invest in Skinny Tan - the self-tanning, cellulite-fighting product owned by budding entrepreneurs Louise Ferguson and Kate Cotton.

But as is standard practice in the Den, plenty of other hopefuls left with nothing as Piers and Kelly quickly honed the art of saying: "No."

So with the older Dragons showing their usual bite and the new faces eager to make their mark, which entrepreneurs blossomed where others wilted?

Skinny Tan 

Easily the most eye-catching pitch of the episode, the demonstration opened with three bikini-clad users of Skinny Tan dancing around to an annoying but undeniably catchy tune - a move which instantly grabbed the attention of the Dragons.  

Owners Louise and Kate had already established the business in Australia, and were looking for money to introduce the self-tanning product in the UK market. Their big plans quickly had the panel fighting for a slice of the action, with the duo offering a 5% stake in their company in return for a £60,000 investment.

With all five Dragons proposing a deal, the pair were spoilt for choice, and eventually opted to go with Piers and Kelly. The two Dragons would each take 5% of the business, both offering £30,000 to make up the £60,000 needed to get it off the ground in the UK.

Given the success of the Australian arm of the company, Piers and Kelly will be expecting to see similar results in Britain, and they will have been buyoed by the ease with which Louise and Kate were able to recall specific figures relating to the performance of their business - a great example for other entrepreneurs to follow.

Bare Naked Foods

"The fact that the Dragons are sometimes more willing to invest in an idea or a person than a fully-fledged business model was evident."

This was a lesson that Ross Mendham should have heeded, as he was unable to produce the numbers that Peter Jones asked for when quizzing him about his project - Bare Naked Foods.

The brand offers low-carb, gluten-free noodles designed to help people lose weight, but Ross struggled with the pitch due to a seemingly limited grasp of its finances. As well as these issues, the problems with the delivery were exacerbated by a recent personal tragedy that was clearly playing on Ross' mind as he fought back tears in the Den.

Fortunately the Dragons were in a forgiving mood - and despite the question marks hanging over the business, they saw a potential in Ross that suggested there was an opportunity to build on the promising foundations he had laid. As Piers explained, sometimes the idea is "investing in people".

With Peter, Duncan and Piers all making an offer, Ross eventually decided to accept Peter's proposal and left the Den with the money he was looking for, although he did hand over 50% of his company. The future of Bare Naked Foods should certainly be interesting.

Wrap It Up

The fact that the Dragons are sometimes more willing to invest in an idea or a person than a fully-fledged business model was well demonstrated by Wrap It Up - a food chain headed by Tayub Mushtaq.

While asking for £500,000 worth of investment was always ambitious - had any of the Dragons agreed, it would have smashed the previous record deal by £250,000 - the firm appeared to present a relatively attractive opportunity.

But despite Wrap It Up having made consistent profits and its representatives being especially well-versed in its performance, none of the Dragons were prepared to bite - the business did not secure the money it was after, showing that even the most well devised pitch isn't always enough to guarantee success.

With Piers and Kelly both settled in and the Dragons not shy of going head-to-head in order to bag a deal, the next five episodes could get heated - although as yet there's no sign that the panel will drop the ball and let a golden goose slip through their fingers like they did with Trunki. 

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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