An anxious Jack Cyber buried his sugar-free sweetener container behind a lush display of gorgeous watermelons, grapes, and pears in the desperate hope that the judges wouldn’t see his half-baked branding on this week’s edition of Dragon’s Den. Cyber appeared dissatisfied as he recounted strong sales figures of £28,000 per week and a projected turnover of over £1.5 million this year. Cyber went away with a £75,000 investment, squirming with apprehension, after some intense bickering between the Dragons.
When Tim Keaveney and Matt Aubrey, owners of Home things, an eco-friendly refillable cleaning supplies firm, stole the show, the arguing got even crazier. The sharp elbows came out as all five Dragons made an offer to the squeaky-clean couple. There was plenty more in the pipeline.
When Sara Davies declared infomercials “the essential technique to recruit customers,” Deborah Meaden made funny expressions. When Davies suggested Home things go for a deal divided three ways between himself, Tej Lalvani, and longest-serving Dragon, Peter Jones, Davies yelled about Touker Suleyman’s “oversight.” Jones pleaded with Meaden to allow him to be a part of the arrangement. ‘Riding on Deborah’s shirttails right now,’ Jones admitted, ‘which was terrible to say aloud.’ Har har har.
>See also: Sara Davies’ 7 Small Business Tips from Dragons’ Den
Meaden concluded she’d lost her vaunted killer instinct and stomped away to ‘discuss with the wall’ for added drama. As the worried entrepreneurs shifted out of her way, an awkward few seconds ensued. Evan tells his audience that this high-octane scene is a “Den first.” Then I’m probably watching BBC One.
However, a couple of good concepts aren’t enough to build a compelling show. We remember Dragon’s Den for its successful companies, such as Levi Roots, Skinny Tan, and Trunki (the child-sized play suitcase that all grownups want to switch on), but we watch it for the horror stories.
Some of the competitors simply have lousy ideas. Vitamin Coffee, run by Leanne Holder and Jacob Leaver, is a flop. Of course, the product does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s coffee with vitamins broken into it. Would adding a Berocca in the cafeteria have a similar taste and health effect?
The Dragons were enraged by the company’s business strategy and predicted turnover, both of which Ms. Holder easily forgot. Holder’s brave boyfriend swooped in with the figures after letting her sweat for a little too long. And you wish he hadn’t.
The company has made $5,000 in less than six months. The expected revenue for the year is £100,000. Davies was enraged, accusing the couple of being ‘in cookooland.’ That’s all right. They go away with nothing.
Helen Davies, a self-described ‘workaholic’ from St Helens, eventually gets Sara Davies’ investment, but not without a fight. Helen’s statement that only £3,000 of her £272,000 profit on her baby food mats was profit in 2018 has shocked the Dragons. Helen has been paying herself a pittance wage of around £12,000 per year since the company began.
The ambitious are rewarded, while the hopeless are mocked in Dragon’s Den. It may serve as a good lesson for small business owners, if not a fair warning, on how not to manage a business and the types of ideas to avoid.