Dragons’ Den: The Dragons come face to face with a fellow multimillionaire

This week in the Den we got the mix of businesses, characters and offers that we love, with some ridiculous (yay!) and some promising (even bigger yay!) pitches.

First we met Richard and Stuart, and their board games. Instantly I wasn’t convinced by this pitch; first of all because of the unfortunate awkwardness and lack of personality within the presentation, but also because board games are kind of old news. As Piers put it, board games are like vinyl records, some people will have them and like them but times have moved on. And just to add to this, none of the games pitched seemed new or exciting.

The Dragons mostly agreed on the fact that the numbers were small and profits were low, and on the basis that the investment would be used mostly to get Richard and Stuart out of debt, Kelly, Deborah and Piers declared themselves out. At this point Duncan announced that he wanted to take a gamble on this business, but would only offer half of the £50,000 requested and wanted a 15 per cent stake in the business. As Peter was the only other Dragon remaining, he must offer the other £25,000, which he did, stating that he wants 20 per cent and wants Duncan to have the same share. After much backwards and forwards negotiating about percentages, eventually Richard and Stuart accepted, however it didn’t appear that they had much choice, considering their amount of debt.

After Richard and Stuart leave the Den, thanking their lucky stars, next arrived Hugh and Nathan with their business, Torch. An ingenious idea to have a stylish cycling helmet with lights on the front and back, Torch interested the Dragons. This product would no doubt sell as the number of people taking up cycling continues to increase, and for the benefit of being an extra safe way to cycle it would be worth the £85 RRP, a mid-range price within the market.

As it becomes clear that Hugh is already a multi-millionaire and has come to the Den for the expertise over the money, the Dragons also find an issue within the product’s patent. Sadly the patent only covered the design of the helmet and did not protect the concept, which would mean that any company could add lights to their cycling helmet. This issue was too much for the Dragons to overlook and no offers were made.

The next pitch wasn’t much to shout about, apart from the fact that I think it goes down in the history books under “number of golf puns in a couple of minutes”. Rob and Nigel pitched their magnetic golf tees, bored the Dragons, and astounded everyone with their extortionate RRP, but all I noticed was the narration. Mentions of the pitch’s “handicap”, saying that the product is “under par”… Needless to say that Rob and Nigel left empty handed.

Any episode of Dragons’ Den just wouldn’t be complete without that one product that makes you think “why would anybody need that?”, and Jim brought us just that. Stowaway Designs Ltd. is a company producing garden furniture that pops up out of decking using a pressure system. According to Jim this is the new trend and everyone has them. I can’t speak for most people but I definitely don’t have garden furniture like this, nobody I know does, and I haven’t even heard of the concept (despite my constant browsing of home ideas on the internet).

The Dragons all managed to point out flaws within the product; the fact that the floor becomes a table, that you can’t move it around, that you have to buy decking to have the furniture as an add-on, and the overinflated cost of a product that is rather rubbish.

However my issue with this came from Jim’s claim that Starbucks and Costa have shown interest in a product like this for their outside seating areas. Having been an employee of a café with outside seating, I can categorically say that this product would cause much more hassle than simply bringing the chairs and tables back inside – a job that only takes a few minutes and doesn’t rely on mechanical systems or replacing the whole floor – and this is completely ignoring the fact that customers like to move chairs and tables around as they require.

None of the Dragons took to Jim’s product, and, once he located the lift button, he left the Den.

From one silly idea to another, the next we saw was an inside out umbrella, which really was as pointless as it sounds. Instead of folding like a conventional umbrella this folds the opposite way. Even though this would be useful when getting into a car, this is really the only benefit. Nobody wants an umbrella that collects the water inside itself. It was mentioned in the pitch that umbrella designs haven’t changed in a long time, and this clearly is for good reason. None of the Dragons, not surprisingly, wanted to invest.

Last into the Den tonight came Effie with an adorable idea, Just for Tiny People. Effie’s product, bespoke tepees and accessories for children naturally interested Kelly, and Effie’s knowledge, passion and appealing financial success caught the interest of the other Dragons.

This was a pitch worthy of an investment, and Effie received three offers, with Piers and Peter respectably stepping aside. Kelly offered first, the full £50,000 for a 20 per cent share of the business. Duncan wanted 25 per cent, but eventually decided to lower this to 20 per cent. Both Kelly and Duncan were also happy to split the offer and take 10 per cent each. However Deborah caused a stir by grabbing Effie’s attention with talk of the future, and also offered the £50,000, but asked for a 25 per cent share.

It seemed to me from the outset of this pitch that Effie’s business needed Kelly’s help, with her background in interior design and with her amount of contacts, she would be the clear choice. With an offer asking for less of the business too, surely Effie would choose Kelly? But in a slightly surprising end to the episode, for reasons I can’t quite work out, Effie chose to go with Deborah. However I am sure that this partnership will work out and help to push this business with huge potential off of the ground.

Join us after the mid season break for more pitches good and bad!

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