Here in the UK, we have a TV programme called Dragon’s Den which I must admit I used to enjoy when it first started back in 2005 and right through to around 2008 when I started to miss programmes and now I hardly ever watch the show. The reason? The Dragon’s are promoting themselves more and seemingly are less interested in “helping” the would-be entrepreneurs who try to pitch their ideas. Now this might just be my opinion, but I believe at the start, the Dragon’s were there to help, but now they seem part of the modern celebrity culture!
I have just read a book about pitching to the Dragons and was wondering where the ones who managed to get some money and help for their product pitch had gone and even those who were turned down wondering if they were successful even without the help of a couple of millionaires. But what caused me to concoct this post was shopping in Tesco’s and seeing some Reggae Reggae peanuts for sale.
I think Levy Roots, the Rastafarian singer, behind the Reggae Reggae sauce product is my most powerful memory of any person who tried a pitch to the Dragons as he strolled up the stairs to them, playing his guitar and singing his song about the sauce. He won them, and me, over with his lack of a pitch, but underneath the front, he was a real businessman! His sauce is sold for cooking, used to coat peanuts (as mentioned above), part of a Subway menu and is used in a full range of products across all the major supermarkets. He must be doing well as his nett worth is estimated around the £30m mark.
I also recall one lady, Natalie Ellis, who failed to get any funding for her non-spill travel dog bowl, something my wife and I both thought was a great idea after having our dogs manage to spread their water all over the rear of my 4×4. Well I know I’ve seen them for sale in one of the big pet stores in the UK, although we did not in the end buy one, and I have read since that she has a growing market in the US and other countries all over the world.
There have been some awful pitches where the people were unable to even answer the most basic questions about their products, but you would have thought that they would have been ready for the exercise by getting that far. There have also been some stupid products pitched as well that have made me laugh at the time and which I cannot recall now so they were not memorable in the least!
One product that surprised me by getting passed by the Dragon’s and, if you’ve flown anywhere by plane over the past five or six years you’ll know what I mean, is the tow-along child’s suitcase that was pitched in 2006, but broke when the Dragon’s tugged it so they all were “Out”. But Rob Law, the inventor of the product, must have learned from his mistake, toughened up his product and we have now all tripped over at least one on our travels!
I’m not sure if this programme has travelled around the world, but if it has, I’d love to know if there are any successful businesses spawned from help from your own countries Dragon’s? Or, if you are a fan of the programme over here in the UK, what is your favourite pitch or product? Let me know below