Dragons' Den review: Youth wins the day as Piers and Kelly pick their protégés
Piers Linney and Kelly Hoppen opted to put their faith in young entrepreneurs
Dragons' Den returned to our screens on Sunday night, and a new round of hopeful entrepreneurs attempted to secure the funding they need to realise their respective ambitions.
There were some interesting ideas for the Dragons to consider - including bath-filling technology and budget holiday packages. But while the pitches, proposals and discussions varied greatly, one common theme emerged by the show's end - the Dragons based their decisions on the people as much as their products.
To begin with, Fredy Vasilev unveiled a product that initially seemed impressive - a gadget which runs baths to an exact depth and temperature determined by the user. But despite the eye-catching start, he struggled to find his flow in a pitch that didn't capture the panel's imagination.
Kelly Hoppen mentioned investing in people, providing a perfect example of just how far the right mix of confidence, optimism and drive can go when you're trying to secure support for your business.
The inventor eventually left with nothing because he hadn't been able to convey the value in his idea - nor convince the Dragons of his ability to make it work.
Despite Fredy's evident determination, it was the evasive and patchy nature of his pitch that left the panel frustrated, perfectly demonstrating the fact that anyone who enters the Den needs to be able to convince the Dragons of their own capabilities as an entrepreneur.
This wasn't the issue for Aurora Tyas and her range of knickers aimed at adventurous travellers. The product was already stocked in 12 independent retailers - as well as being trialled for the military - and appeared to have clear potential. Unfortunately, the panel didn't agree.
Yet while the Dragons didn't believe there was a big enough market in which to sell Aurora's creation, the fact that she delivered an interesting and engaging pitch worked in her favour - so much so that Piers offered to introduce her to one of the UK's biggest outdoor retailers so as she could seek more advice.
He explained that while he didn't see value in her product, he would have invested in her as an aspiring entrepreneur if the business model had been more convincing. It spoke volumes about the way in which the Dragons look for the potential in people, and Piers' faith in Aurora may have been enough to make him bite had the opportunity been that little bit more appealing.
This was proven when Rob and Aden of Mainstage Travel arrived in the Den to ask for a £100,000 investment in return for 10% of their low-cost package holiday business. The pair had a definitive knowledge of their figures, a strong understanding of their target market and - despite their relative youth - were even confident enough to share a joke or two with the Dragons.
It was their ability to couple a detailed pitch with an enthusiastic and relaxed approach that made the panel pay attention, while their forecast of a £257,000 profit in the coming year piqued the Dragons' interest.
Duncan Bannatyne, Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones all made offers, but it was Piers Linney's that Ben and Aden opted for; Piers undercut his counterparts by asking for 15% of the business where they had wanted 25%.
Calm and confident
The last hopeful to step into the Den was Oliver Murphy, seeking £50,000 for a 15% stake in his phone repairs venture - Reviveaphone.
While the young businessman admitted the product could not be protected against possible imitators - an issue that put many of the Dragons off - it seemed Kelly saw something in Oliver which made her feel confident about investing £50,000 in his venture.
With the deal agreed, Kelly even said that sometimes you have to "invest in people", providing a perfect example of just how far the right mix of confidence, optimism and drive can go when you're trying to secure support for your business.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org