Dragons Den Episode 4: Prepare to escape “Business Narnia”

Dragons Den Episode 4: Prepare to escape “Business Narnia”

1 September 2013

Episode 4 of Dragons Den showed an easy lifting drain cover, a bra measurement system, modern craft takeaways, a sawhorse and a pregnancy yoga franchise. The Dragons spat fire at the poor preparation of the investment pitches. Chainsaws ripped and the Dragons thought they were in “business Narnia”.

Despite the fact that this is clearly theatre, rather than a credible investment presentation forum, there are still valid lessons to be learnt from this episode.

There are six key questions that all businesses need to answer in describing themselves:

-       What is the problem you are solving?

-       What is your product or solution?

-       Who are your customers?

-       What is your USP?

-       How does it scale?

-       How much money do you need and what do you need it for?

It’s the first three that determine whether you have a business and the last three that are relevant in determining the value of the business.

If you answer those questions, simply and clearly, you have the best chance of starting the conversation that is the investment process.

Preparation of your investment pitch, with sound projections and a good understanding of your business model are vital in explaining your business to investors.


Know your product proposition

The easy lift drain device appeared to solve a problem, as did the “Opti-fit” bra measurement device.  However, you need to make sure you are actually solving the problem in an economic and practical way. Neither of these seemed either clear or necessary solutions. Premium priced products require exceptional value for extraordinary unique selling points.

If you’re not solving a problem, then your product needs to be attractive to customers.

The “Makery” had an online, retail, print and classroom presence. These are all diverse channels for one product under one brand. Building a brand is a unique exercise in itself and clarity is required when there are more than one route to market. Their proposition became muddled when they tried to separate business units into different investment propositions. They may well have had a far more receptive audience had they kept it all as one business. In the end, they painted a picture of a lifestyle business rather than a cohesive investable brand.

The “Truncator” sawhorse team demonstrated that being argumentative to potential investors was a futile and embarrassing exercise. If investors don’t get your business, it’s the fault of your explanation.  Remember investors invest in people first, ideas second.


Know your market

You need to understand where your product fits into a market.

Is it a unique or “me-to” product or solution?

Does it solve a problem that people are prepared to pay to have solved?

Does it require an industry to change to adapt to your product?


It’s no good making something if no one really wants it.


Money or mentoring: Realising value.

This episode demonstrated that sometimes businesses need effective mentoring more than investment. YogaBellies got not only their investment, but also an investor who will mentor them, with relevant franchise and industry knowledge and experience.

The Makery would benefit from mentoring, more than investment. They failed to make an investment case, despite being the most advanced of the businesses, because of the confused proposition.

I have analysed the last 3 episodes of Dragons Den to extract some of the lessons that could be learnt. This is theatre. The angel networks cringe at the thought that anyone thinks this represents the investment process. However, I know entrepreneurs find this both entertaining and enlightening.

I hope that my reviews and my “Preparing your Pitch” article will help you be better prepared to present your business to investors.

All material copyright David Hulston Associates Ltd.  @davidhulston1
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David Hulston

Indycube Ventures

Indycube Ventures offers funding and expert advice to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs and small-business owners based at coworking space network Indycube are being offered access to a half-million-pound annual funding stream and expert advice.



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