What It's Really Like to Go On Dragons' Den
Early last year, we received an email from someone who claimed to be an assistant producer at BBC Dragons’ Den about potentially coming on their show this year.
Yang and I regularly watch it and had no idea that they proactively send invitations to interesting businesses. Therefore, we assumed it was a scam and went on with our day. It wasn’t until about 2 weeks later that I decided “there’s no harm in responding”, so I fired off a quick response offering to do a call.
The chap on the other end explained that actually about half the companies on the show come on through their team sending invitations. He’d seen our ads on Facebook, loved the brand and thought we would be a great fit. He invited us to come into the BBC headquarters for an audition in the coming weeks.
Auditioning for the Den
We gave our prepared pitch in front of the camera a couple times and then recorded another 30 minutes of us answering questions together. About a month later, we got a follow up from the BBC that they would like to host us in the Den (up in Manchester). WE WERE IN!!!
In the weeks leading up to it, we practiced, and practiced, and practiced. We did everything from hiring an acting coach to doing mock pitch sessions with other businesses that had been on the show (like LookAfterMyBills).
The production is set in Manchester, so we took the train up on the day before to get ready. After arranging some props, having a hearty dinner and more practice in the hotel room, we finally went to sleep for the big day around 1:30am.
Loads of Prep Work
We woke up late!!! The other teams had already gone over to the Den by this point. Luckily, they sent another van to pick us to. We jumped in and hurried our way to the studio.
We were brought into a large waiting room where we would set up our display. We toiled away folding pants, putting our tree saplings into burlap sacks, and delicately cut out lumps of bubble-wrap to stuff into the pouch of the mannequin so as to make the shape more realistic.
The producers came by our table and left their comments convincing us to rearrange certain aspects. They had strict rules against showing your branding or website.
We were sent into makeup. As a man, it’s the first time in my life that I’ve put makeup on. I must have needed it as it took many layers of foundation to cover my shiny forehead.
The production team asked us to come get our shots of “walking into the Den.” Much to my surprise, the elevator is completely fake! For about 20-30 mins, they asked us to walk up and down the hallway, and press the elevator button and pretend as though we were waiting for an elevator!
We then went to a separate studio to film the intro sentence before going into the Den.
“I think you’ve got something here with the branding, and the product quality is quite nice”
My favorite part was when Peter said, “I think you’ve got something here with the branding, and the product quality is quite nice, but the pouch is awfully large, isn’t it? Isn’t that going to alienate some men?” In a stroke of brilliance, Yang immediately responded back "Oh, I hope we got your size right. If not, we can change it out after the show." The whole crew erupted in laughter.
About 3 weeks after our debut on Dragon’s Den, we received a call from Tej Lalvani’s team. The guy on the other end of the phone explained that Tej was still interested in us, and he was willing to come down to invest £80k in exchange for a 10% stake in the business. This was AMAZING news!