Dragons’ Den: Sax, ice and a great trike

I appreciate her ‘have-a-go’ approach and interacting with the Den’s visitors, but when she stepped up to try out a Yorkshire musical instrument maker’s ‘easy reed’, I hid behind the sofa cushions. I’m not sure why, it just seemed wrong. Perhaps it was the Pink Panther theme tune being played that just tipped me over the edge? Either way, at least she was polite about the quality of the sax, unlike Bannatyne who termed the easy to fit reed “unusable, unworkable and uninvestable,” – that’ll be a no then will it? And so the Dragons began their roll of keeping their purses tightly shut.

A Scotsman came along with a ladder and an invention that safely attached tools to it. I thought it was quite nifty, not that I ever use a ladder, but hey. The Den definitely didn’t agree with me and the lovely ‘Ladder Limb’ inventor was forced to climb down.

One daring Den visitor looked like he was going to be on the up though, and this was my hands down favourite pitch of the night. Recently graduated Tim, inventor of Mountain Trike was after a £100k investment for a 5% share of his all terrain wheelchair, which enabled its users to enjoy deep mud, snow, sandy beaches and rough terrain, all whilst keeping clean hands. Versatile, practical and innovative, and combined with a near perfect pitch delivered by 47% shareholder Tim, this product showcased British talent in all its glory.

The Den seemed to get the company’s self-valuation of £2m stuck in their throats, and despite hefty praise like “incredible product”, “amazing” and “inspiring”, they finally turned Tim (and his absent but four-strong team) down when he explained his hands were tied and he couldn’t offer a share of any higher than a 5% stake. However, with Mountain Trike’s recent American approval, I’m hoping that’s a decision at least one of our Dragons will come to regret.

In contrast, I suspect there were some regrets from poor postmistress Wendy who was asking for £50k for a 20% stake in her car accessories ‘with a twist’ business. This is one product I’m not going to forget. Pink, cherry smelling, ‘She-Icer’ was the product on offer. Small enough to carry around in your handbag on a night out, you could be on hand to rescue yourself or another damsel should they leave the pub and be iced out of their car. And it didn’t stop there. Wendy was offering a range of auto care products specifically designed for women, in pink of course.

Wendy is obviously far more sensible than me because if I found myself in an ‘ice out’ situation, I’m pretty sure I’d just go back to the pub.  I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that the Den was decidedly chilly and didn’t think there was a market for the products. Saying that, they may have missed a trick, I have become particularly fixated on the ‘She-Roma’ air fresher on offer – what would a ‘She-Roma’ smell of I wonder?  I might have to buy one, just to find out.

Ex-lawyer turned founder of Inner Me, Nikki, had a compelling personal story and her three types of bespoke vitamin pills were already being stocked in 130 Boots stores as well as Selfridges, with a North American distributor and Superdrug already knocking on her door. Asking for a £100k investment for 20% equity for her business, sadly for Nikki, the Dragons just couldn’t find a compelling enough reason to make the reach into their deep pockets.

Tonight’s episode of Dragons’ Den was completely void of those all important £ notes. Not one person walked off with a smile on their face and a wad [of notes] in their pocket, but luckily for the higher calibre contestants, the sudden economic crisis in the Den didn’t spell disaster.

@ladderlimb tweeted that 14,000 of its products had already been sold across the UK and it was shortly to be available in the US, Australia and Cyprus – without the help of ‘Dragon Power’, @innermelondon tweeted its plan for an Inner Him range next year and as for @mountaintrike, I agree with the general Twitter consensus, it’s genius.  So I’m pretty hopeful they’ll be just fine.



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