By Dom Walbanke on Small Business UK – Advice and Ideas for UK Small Businesses and SMEs
This week’s episode featured the worst pitch Sara Davies has ever seen in the den, Peter Jones to feel like he was in Las Vegas and Steven Bartlett to shut down an “immature” brand name.
But first up were affable sisters Alex and Jenny McFadden and their stylish easy-access maternity wear, Pretty Mama.
They were after £30,000 for a 20 per cent share in their clothing range which features subtle diagonal zips for breastfeeding – a design ready patented. Tick! Much of the range is also made from recycled clothing. Another tick.
Would this be an opportunity the dragons would be quick to latch on to?
Touker – surprise, surprise – questioned how much they were buying their product for. £20 per item bought in batches of 50 went down as well as you would think.
To his credit though, despite the revelation both sisters work full time jobs and he didn’t think it was investable, he was happy to share with all the other dragons for 30 per cent of the business.
Incredibly, all but Deborah were up for it, desperate to help out the likeable siblings. I mean can you imagine dealing with four dragons… you have to feel for them.
“With four dragons, you’ll basically have the Avengers” Peter Jones said with a tremor in his voice.
“I love the Avengers” came a teary reply from our timid Alex. It was all so heart-warming, and with that we had a deal.
“I feel like I’m going to be sick” she then revealed in the lift. Well, that killed the mood.
The family theme continued with Richard Davies, his wife Samantha and her son Tommy, who were looking for £50,000 in return for a 15 per cent share of their half champagne, half gin drink, Gasm.
Would the pitch go down a treat or would they bottle it?
Well Stephen wasn’t in the party spirit, finding the “immature” name not funny at all. Honestly, that should have been the least of his worries – the business was running losses in the hundreds of thousands and they were now looking to invest… wait for it… half a million in a bottling plant of their own. Jeez, no wonder they let the dragons have a drink before the questions.
“If I could get on my knees, I would beg you ‘do not build the bottling plant’” pleaded Deborah.
They’ve already committed to it, haven’t they…
“This is a fabulous product,” Sara said. “But you two are terrible business people.” Ouch. “Because this is the worst business proposition I’ve heard since I’ve been in the den.”
No popping open the champagne for this family, then.
At least Richard looked on the bright side. “Not disastrous, they all enjoyed it” he said in the lift afterwards, taking ‘fool’s paradise’ to a whole new level.
Next in was Andrew Perkins, wife Rene and South African born Luis Canto E Castro aiming to make the world more accessible to people with disabilities.
They were after £100,000 for 5 per cent of their business, City Maas.
Their website plugin, Assist Me, allows people to interact with any website, based on their needs and preferences. That includes changing word spacing for dyslexia, colour contrasts for colour blindness and a map of accessible places in a city.
Would they get access to the dragons’ cash?
Well, no, unfortunately. Though the panel liked the idea, they didn’t see an investment opportunity with their current strategy and the three left the den disappointed.
Chris Burdett and Alex Lever were last up with PipeSnug, looking for £100,000 in return for 7.5 per cent. This cheap house pipe sealant doesn’t have any competition they’re aware of, and with new regulations requiring all house pipes to be sealed with a pipe collar, it seemed they were on to a winner.
But was this really a gap in the market or just another pipe dream?
Sales certainly haven’t taken off, leading the dragons to ponder what was stopping this business from cashing in. Everything, it turns out, balances on what happens once the building regulations come into play in June.
“This ranges from selling very little indeed to absolutely cleaning up” piped up Deborah.
“I almost feel like I’m in Las Vegas, that is the level of risk here” Peter added before making an offer of half the money for 15 per cent. “And this is the first time I have made on offer on something I find really boring.”
Deborah joined him and the duo clinched a deal, giving us the rare event of two joint deals in one sitting. Time will tell if they manage to hit the jackpot.
More Dragons’ Den
Dragons’ Den: our dragons lock horns – S19, Ep12
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