Phew, I’m glad that’s out of the way. I can’t believe I went on Dragons’ Den!
When I was still working for a consumer goods company, I watched Dragons’ Den religiously. To the point that I had to stop watching because I got so upset about not being able to leave my job and start my own business. Who knew that a few years down the line I’d be invited to pitch to the dragons in real life…
My Dragons’ Den experience now tops the list of the toughest things I have had to do for Nimble.
During the selection process, I had to produce mountains of paperwork to prove to the BBC every single thing I say about myself and the business – from university certificates proving I am a chemist to copies of every single contract I have with retailers and distributors. It took me over 3 weeks to complete this and in the end I had a 300-page dossier that I had to lug around with me from London to the Dragons’ Den studio in Manchester.
On the day of the filming itself I had to wait 12 hours before my turn to go to the den. The part I found most gruelling was that we were not told which order we were going to be called in and we had to stay in one room all day. It was torture! So when I was finally called, I couldn’t believe that it was really happening and had to muster all the energy I had left.
As I walked into the lift, my heart was pounding and thank god for a little bit of theatre training when I was a teenager. Luckily, I remembered some of the relaxation techniques I had learned before going on stage and managed to calm myself down and collect my thoughts. When the lift doors opened, I was all smiles and managed to walk towards the dragons without tripping. One deep breath, eye contact made (which was impossible to do when they all looked so angrily at me!), and the first few lines of my pitch were delivered.
Three minutes later my pitch was almost done, and I saw one or two dragons smiling and nodding along which gave me a bit more confidence. Then came the questions and grilling. It’s all a bit of a blur from there and can’t really remember who asked or said what. But what I do remember is that they really did behave like dragons and criticised every bit of my business.
Why are my sales so poor? How dare I insult them with a £3m valuation? Why would anyone buy your products? These were questions I was ready for but what came next was something I didn’t expect at all! Very quickly Peter Jones declared that he was out. After a few more tense questions, Deborah Meaden was also not having any of it and immediately said she was out.
Only three Dragons left, and they looked extremely disappointed.
I was ready to leave but Tej Lavlani suddenly said, “I do like this space and I think it’s an area that can grow... so I'm going to make you an offer”. Then came Touker Suleyman “I'm in the baby world... so I'm going to make you an offer and I'm backing you because I believe we can go places”. Lastly came Sara Davies “The big potential for this in the US and that is a market I think I can add value with so my offer is”.
I negotiated a bit and eventually accepted the combined offer from Dragons.
I still can’t believe that I got three bloody offers, one after the other, even after a sticky interrogation!
I hope that you enjoyed watching the show and have picked up a thing or two from my experience as an entrepreneur.
Von (a.k.a. Mr Nimble) x