Normally when I step out of a lift its with a sense of mild relief; a relief that’s born from a nagging doubt that whenever I enter one and the doors close, I may not get out! Entombed in a large metallic box that’s stuck between floors is not my idea of fun. All that changed at 11am on June 23rd. At that precise time, I was actually in a lift praying for the doors to stay jammed shut. Weird you might think… but not so weird when I tell you that waiting on the other side of the lift’s doors were five Dragons eagerly awaiting to grill anyone foolhardy enough to venture into the den, about their profit margins and marketing strategy!

 

Entering Dragons' Den

 

Yes… I don’t mind admitting, Dragons’ Den is a pretty nerve wracking experience. Somewhat akin to a first bungee jump off the Clifton Suspension Bridge I would imagine. I don’t know why I felt quite so anxious and nervy as my wife, Debbie, and I had done our homework and the preparation had been thorough. If you ever have a bright idea and are ever tempted to apply to pitch in the Den just remember, you will be required to produce a mountain of paperwork. Trademark certification, profit and loss statements, shareholder consent… A mountain! I guess it’s fair enough and only to be expected given that the BBC will want to know that any budding entrepreneur they place before the gurus, tycoons and titans do at least have the makings of a viable embryonic business. By the time we had assembled the paperwork we knew our business inside out. The hard part was remembering it all! Whilst previous episodes of DD had shown us that fluffed lines or faulty figures makes for good

 

5 Hungry Dragons

5 Hungry Dragons...

 

Yes… I don’t mind admitting, Dragons’ Den is a pretty nerve wracking experience. Somewhat akin to a first bungee jump off the Clifton Suspension Bridge I would imagine. I don’t know why I felt quite so anxious and nervy as my wife, Debbie, and I had done our homework and the preparation had been thorough. If you ever have a bright idea and are ever tempted to apply to pitch in the Den just remember, you will be required to produce a mountain of paperwork. Trademark certification, profit and loss statements, shareholder consent… A mountain! I guess it’s fair enough and only to be expected given that the BBC will want to know that any budding entrepreneur they place before the gurus, tycoons and titans do at least have the makings of a viable embryonic business. By the time we had assembled the paperwork we knew our business inside out. The hard part was remembering it all! Whilst previous episodes of DD had shown us that fluffed lines or faulty figures makes for good telly, we were anxious not to scupper our chances of business success in the same way. As a result, we embarked on a mammoth memorization: Size of pet market in USA? 99 billion US$, UK average annual spend per pet (dog) £1,300, Number of UK dog-owning households? 8 million, units sold year 1? 800… A lot of figures. I took responsibility for remembering these. Not an easy task at my age, when you struggle to remember which day of the week it is or why you’ve just gone upstairs.

 

Maisie was singularly unimpressed with the programme when it was aired

 

Debbie concentrated on marketing, design and functionality, legal matters, collaboration - virtually everything else associated with our fledgling business. Seemed like a fair division of labour to me. And we made sure we knew our stuff, we really did. Endlessly going over it and testing each other. We also did our homework on the Dragons.

Being the celebrities that they are there is a lot of info in the public domain. I’m sure there isn’t a person in the country who doesn’t know that Deborah Meaden is a keen environmentalist and that Peter Jones is 6ft 7inches in height. But did you know that Sara Davies’ mum’s favourite colour is pink? That all the Dragons, apart from Sara Davies, have pet dogs? Trivial? Well, not to us. If you’re seeking investment in a dog walker’s bag business then it’s useful to know whether those who are firing the questions have experienced the trials and tribulations associated with the picking up, carrying and disposing of canine excrement. And we made sure that when it came to giving out the samples, Sara Davies got a pink bag. Little quirky details are important.

Then there’s the 3 minute pitch. Previous episodes had demonstrated how crucial it is to get this right. It needs to be slick and delivered with confidence. Nothing worse than a pitch that founders on the rocks of memory failure and nerves; budding entrepreneurs squirming, tearful and sweating profusely as they try desperately to salvage something from a stuttering, less than impressive pitch. We knew we were pitch perfect – a finally honed 3 minute verbal masterpiece that would, by the time we had finished, have the Dragons begging us to accept their investment. Well, that’s what we hoped for.

We were also deploying Maisie our cockapoo and secret weapon to add a bit of the “awwww, ain’t she cute” factor to the pitch. We surmised that her presence would melt the hearts not only of the of the viewers but also of our Dragon interrogators, weakening any dishing- out-the-dosh resistance they might’ve had.

 

"My Mum would love this"

 

So overall, we had prepared well. I knew my figures, Debbie knew everything else, we had done our homework on the Dragons, we had a good pitch and we were deploying a secret weapon, Maisie. What could go wrong? Well, clearly nothing – because as the doors of the lift opened I remembered I was wearing my lucky underpants. These had last been deployed in the Bristol Rovers V Grimsby Town 2015 conference playoff final. They hadn’t let me down then and they wouldn’t let me down now. The nerves evaporated and with Debbie beside me and with Maisie my pooch leading the way, I confidently strode out into the Den…

For what happened next see Series 19, Episode 4.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knnwsm4ZThk

 

June 01, 2022 — Reece Hussain

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