Dragons’ Den: The Fat Lad at The Back and Marshmallows

I’ll explain. Into the Den came Richard and Lynne with their cycle wear range, Fat Lad at the Back. Whilst it is a refreshing idea to create sportswear, particularly in the skin tight category, for the larger person, the Dragons were not convinced by the name of the brand, even after promises of more subtle designs in the future.

Of course Fat Lad at the Back is a tongue in cheek name; most who wear it will undoubtedly be doing so in a self-deprecating way. But it isn’t only that – those who choose to wear it are also saying “yes, I am new to this getting fit thing and no, I’m not planning on pretending any different”. It gives those who are maybe a little larger and want to get fit the permission and acceptance that they might need to know that it is alright for them to do that. All of these thoughts ran through my mind and I was happy to finally hear that this was part of the intention too. And I fully support this. It is just a shame that the Dragons did not get it too.

So Richard and Lynne sadly left empty handed, and in came Tracy and her fancy nanotechnology from the US. These useful items such as clips, hooks, notebooks and so on all came on a backing that used very, very tiny suction pads, or what Tracy called “nanosuction”, meaning that they could be mounted to a surface, wouldn’t budge and would hold up to 5kg in weight.

This type of product would be endlessly useful (think of all the times you’ve wanted to hang something somewhere and didn’t want to drill a hole) due to its strong yet temporary nature, but there was a snag. Tracy did not own this business, she simply had a contract with the business in the States and held exclusive rights. Due to this and the possibility that she could be cut loose at any time, the Dragons were sensible to be sceptical.

After establishing that talks with the company must be had in adjusting her contract, both Duncan and Deborah made offers. Both offered Tracy the full £60,000 she requested, with Duncan asking for 35 per cent and Deborah wanting 40 per cent. Choosing the Dragon who had a gut feeling about the opportunity rather than the one made a U-turn halfway through, Tracy chose Duncan.

And from a product that would be useful in the home, to one that would only maybe be useful if you’re, say, at a festival, next into the Den walked Jordan and Andrew, pitching Morella, a range of umbrellas with drink holders.

I at this point have to question how a person gets to “I know what people need – umbrellas with drinks holders”, because it seemed to me that this idea stemmed from the fact that people now use their phones a lot. I am one of those people who cannot stand it when someone texts (or plays Flappy Bird etc.) and walks at the same time. I dislike the fact that most people nowadays can’t go five minutes without touching their phone.

So, naturally, I immediately disliked this product. Sure I understand that it’s difficult to carry a lot of things at once, but when do you ever need to have more in your hands than an umbrella and a drink? Especially when the type of person I see buying this product most likely also carries a bag.

It didn’t come as a surprise when the Dragons’ seemed uninterested and made no offers.

After this promotion of excessive smartphone use, I was more than happy to see a product arrive that encouraged healthy activity and social interaction. Ukick is a toy aimed at children that is similar to a shuttlecock, with customisable feathers and weights, that can be used to play keepy uppy. As a lot of products like this need to become a “craze”, David and Phil were after some expertise to launch Ukick into an explosion.

This came with questions for the Dragons. They loved the pitch and the efforts put in, but did not see any future potential due to the fact that crazes like this tend to be one hit wonders. Peter envisioned kids in their homes breaking vases and “hitting Grandma on the head”, and he, along with the other Dragons, did not make any offers.

Moving on from fun to functional, next arrived Denise, a lady who suffered disabilities after being involved in a car accident. Her product, a walking stick with LED lights and panic alarm, did interest the Dragons, however none saw enough potential to invest.

Lastly in this weeks’ Dragons’ Den came the only consumable product of the episode, Mallow & Marsh, founded by Harriet. Requesting a rather high £65,000 for only 10 per cent of her business, Harriet had to really sell her more healthy, less processed marshmallows to the Dragons. Kelly commented on the texture of the marshmallows, which seemed more like nougat. The over-packaging of the marshmallows was a concern to the Dragons, as well as the £2.50 RRP for only a small box of 3.

Harriet’s financial projections came under fire, and despite not being able to give any estimates, both Deborah and Peter made offers. Deborah offered the full amount but requested 33.3 per cent of the business, and Peter took an unusual route, offering £80,000 but requesting 40 per cent.

Harriet was unwilling to give away so much of her business, and decided to leave the Den without taking up an offer. This was a brave decision, but one that also seems to have started to pay off – the Mallow & Marsh website has received an incredible amount of traffic, and its Twitter feed is just as busy. It would seem that a lot of people have taken an interest in marshmallows.

Peter pointed out this week that Levi Roots left the Den with 60 per cent of his business and is now a multi-millionaire, something I’m sure a lot of the hopefuls who pitch to the Dragons either don’t know or forget. This week Harriet was told this information and chose to ignore it, and all we can do is wait and see if Mallow & Marsh takes off to know if she was right to do so.

And that is this weeks’ Dragons’ Den – with only a small amount of promise, and potentially a couple of big mistakes. I’m off now to hang a 5kg weight off a small adhesive hook, and hope for more excitement next week.

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