Dragons’ Den: Dog walking, peanut butter & hanging up your hair

This week in the Den we were treated to a first pitch that wasn’t quite the visual spectacle we’ve become accustomed to in this series. Tom and his online estate agent business We Sold entered the Den in a very understated manner. This model in which the seller pays per house viewing could be very forward thinking, however it didn’t appear that he had thought it all the way through. The Dragons did point out that a seller only cares about getting the best price for their house, and this aspect of the process was entirely left out of Tom’s plans.

What struck me most about his proposition however was that his plan was to arrange house viewings, charge the seller for this, and then let the seller hold the viewing themselves unaccompanied. I don’t know much about Tom, but if he is the kind of person who would pay someone to send someone he doesn’t know round to his house then I have to question his sense. Let’s just say that I am not anywhere near as trusting as he clearly is and I would never be interested in doing that.

And the second aspect of this was that only 50% of sellers over the last 3 months actually sold their house, which means, as Peter rightly pointed out, half of his customers are going to be very unhappy that they’ve paid out for no reason at all. He also disagreed that this method of selling is the future, suggesting that people are more likely to sell online directly. Personally I would agree with this, and it came as no surprise when none of the Dragons’ made an offer.

Next into the Den came the first consumable product of the program, The Teabox Company’s loose teas. As a high end product at a less expensive price, and with such a passion for their product, it’s not a surprise that the Dragons enjoyed sampling the teas and took an interest in the business.

The Teabox Company also offer a blending service in which customers can blend their own tea, resulting in a huge possible amount of tea variations, which is something incredibly unique and personal. Along with its stylish and simple packaging (which Piers hated and abruptly withdrew himself) the product itself seemed pure and natural. Kelly loved it, and wanted 25 per cent of the business, which Peter then rivalled, saying he wanted 26 per cent. Deborah also offered the same as Kelly, but did not suggest that she would have anything to bring to the table. Naturally Philip and Omar chose Kelly, the deal with the best value and the Dragon with the best contacts for their business.

Coming in for walkies to visit the Dragons came Sally and her dog Bert. As a small, cute dog, Bert looked good in the combined lead and collar, which promised ease when it came to walking time as the lead simply extends out. However on a dog of a different size, this would not look good and on some dogs would simply not work. After admitting to a very high investment so far into a product that seemed, urm, ruff, the Dragons all withdrew.

The Wild Peanut, the next product, initially sparked my curiosity. I’m a big peanut butter lover, and the concept of flavoured peanut butter interested me as well as the Dragons. However I am still in need of more information on flavours! I noticed a cinnamon flavoured peanut butter, but otherwise no attention during the pitch was drawn to the varieties available.

Kelly liked the product and wanted to know about interest from outside of the Den. Ocado had made a proposal in which they wanted to take on the product with their own branding and with different flavours to the ones offered, meaning that the business would essentially be simply manufacturing the peanut butter. Akeem then became flustered by questions to do with his finances and it became clear that he was very quickly running out of money.

All Dragons liked Akeem but did not think that his product would be successful and one by one pulled out.

Now a problem that all of us face on a day to day basis – when we put our hair extensions in our handbags and they get all tangled and matted and… oh, hang on, no I don’t think I know of a single person who has that problem. However Kate had a solution to this non-existent problem with Hair Hangerz. The Dragons, just like me, didn’t really see the point. I did like the idea of having suckers on the hangers so that they will stay fixed while you style your extensions, however Peter pointed out that this product had gone way too far. A small clip that you can place onto a regular coat hanger, or even an add on when you buy extensions, could work as a popular product, however Hair Hangerz was just a bit too extreme for the Dragons and none were interested in making an offer.

Lastly into the Den this week came Ralph and Alex with their home brew cider kit. I have experienced home brewing – I have a very keen boyfriend who harvests apples from his garden every year, presses them and makes his own cider – and he does it properly. Piers pointed out that there are going to be enthusiasts who want to do it properly and there are people who just want to buy cider, and this product, which effectively is cider squash (“just add water, ready in 10 days”) was somewhere in the middle, for people who just want to show their mates that they made some cider and who don’t really care about the taste. All Dragons slowly backed out for various reasons, Deborah respectably stating very quickly that she doesn’t want to be a part of anything that encourages cheap drinking.

Even despite their abysmal market knowledge, Duncan decided he would make an offer, after quizzing Peter and prompting him to pro another glass. Initially asking for 35 per cent instead of the proposed 15, a deal was then made in which he would take 25 per cent, decreasing to the 15 per cent in time if the target profits were achieved.

A little disappointing in terms of products in the Den this week; none of the pitches blew me away, and even though I liked the Teabox Company, I’m not jumping out of my chair for loose tea. I do believe however that there could be success within this business, unlike Ralph and Alex’s “home brew” cider kit which I am almost completely certain will not be the success that Duncan thinks it might be. 10 days is just too long a time to wait for anything, but don’t worry, it’s only 7 days until our next Dragon’s Den fix.

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