Duncan Bannatyne finds 'investment of the year' as Young Ones secure a deal in the Den

posted on 17/09/2013 09:04:26 by Dan O'Sullivan

Young Ones agreed to a deal that saw Duncan Bannatyne acquire 40% of their business

A student's take on cool: Young Ones target Britain's undergraduates with their custom onesies

The final episode in the latest series of Dragons' Den hit our screens on Sunday night, and luckily one pair of budding entrepreneurs was able to secure investment to ensure the season ended on a high.

Chris and Tom formed the impressive partnership that managed to persuade Duncan Bannatyne to invest £75,000 of his money in their Young Ones business - a custom clothing brand with a focus on popular trends among university students, specifically onesies.

Where previous pitches had failed to convince the Dragons on the size of their respective markets and subsequent ability to compete, the postgraduates possessed an enthusiasm and positivity - as well as a healthy bank balance - that was enough to win Bannatyne over.

Investment of the year

One thing the youngsters had in their arsenal that other entrepreneurs on the show couldn't boast was their attractive financial setup - early profits in excess of £30,000, with no expensive overheads to worry about given that they were not using a warehouse to store or produce their stock.

Another striking aspect of their business was that, despite being a clothing brand, the product had been designed to survive the changing nature of fashion trends. Kelly Hoppen agreed that their custom-made items wouldn't be a fad along the same lines as Jack Wills or Superdry shirts, simply because consumers will always be drawn to onesies - an endorsement that certainly gave Chris and Tom an added confidence boost.

While Peter Jones pulled out over concerns about a rival trademark and Deborah Meaden questioned whether the involvement of a Dragon would dent the brand's image, Duncan Bannatyne saw the opportunity to swoop and bagged himself a 40% stake in the business.

The reason Young Ones were successful was that they had all their bases covered - there were no questions from the panel that picked any substantial holes in their plans, and the early performance of their company clearly demonstrated its potential.

It was a deal that Bannatyne hailed as "investment of the year", and one that Chris and Tom went along with despite having been told by one of their dads that it was exactly what they shouldn't do. Reports that both of them have been grounded remain unconfirmed.

Missing pieces of a puzzle

The reason Young Ones were successful was that they had all their bases covered - there were no questions from the panel that picked any substantial holes in their plans, and the early performance of their company clearly demonstrated its potential.

Unfortunately this wasn't something that John and Georgie - the couple who were first to pitch in Sunday night's episode - were able to achieve quite as effectively. While their Norfolk Cordial venture had got off to an impressive start and even secured customers as far away as Qatar, the Dragons couldn't see how their brand would stand out in a congested market place.

Essentially it was the fact that the two couldn't properly demonstrate their ability to compete with the industry's biggest players that meant the panel started to lose faith in the business, and this was confounded when the project's unappealing setup with existing shareholders came to the fore.

When the pair eventually left the Den, it was in a similar way that many entrepreneurs have exited this series - with the praise and good wishes of the Dragons, but ultimately no investment because their company wasn't shining in every area. As Pies Linnery said, they didn't slip up once during their pitch.

Romance is dead

The final lesson to take away from Sunday's episode was that sometimes it's a good idea to play your trump card early - something Manu failed to do as he tried to secure funding for his Hot Pink project.

Manu's venture involved producing bespoke engagement rings that customers can design on the web. Kelly attacked the venture as she accused it of killing romance, Duncan said the in-store services that already exist at jewellers make the need for Hot Pink redundant and - perhaps unsurprisingly - the Dragons started to pull out.

It wasn't until Piers Linney was the only one left in the game that Manu turned over his Ace - one of the rings that had been made using the Hot Pink service. Deborah and Kelly swooned, Peter Jones said it was "very investable" and it seemed the Dragons were kicking themselves for pulling out.

Either way, it was too late for Manu - Piers said he didn't have the necessary knowledge of the industry to justify investing £100,000, and any chance of a deal went out the window. If only Manu had started with that ring…

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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