We had been looking to raise finance for about 18 months, and we had just found a finance partner when the opportunity to audition for Dragons Den came up. We all agreed it would be good experience and good publicity, but we knew we had a backup plan in case it didn’t work out.
On the day you arrive at Pinewood around 7am and are held in the green room with the other entrepreneurs. It is tense – no phones, little information etc
Standing in front of the Dragons, you almost feel like you know them, they seem so familiar. That was not intimidating in itself, but there were around 30 crew around the edge of the set watching. Of course I’d spent a lot of time on the initial 3 minute pitch – assuming that this would not be heavily edited, so all my core messages where in it – What the business was, how it was made up of different areas and why, awards and partnerships and how the investment was to be broken down. As it transpired, this WAS heavily edited and so from the beginning the televised piece was not representative of the pitch or the business, and this has been the hardest part of the experience for me.
I was in the den for about 2 hours, which is something that is not widely known, and by the end I was so tired…. I could tell from early on that the concept was too complex but wanted to leave with dignity and integrity so for me it became more of a exercise in self preservation than fighting for the money.
I was shattered when it was over, even though all the dragons bar Duncan were really positive about me, it still felt terrible to walk away with my business so misunderstood. James Caan seemed to have taken the time to really listen and his full assessment was fair. I wrote to him afterwards to thank him and received a really encouraging letter back.
I was due to go on holiday for 2 weeks camping following the airing of the show, but before I went the producers had been in touch to say Peter Jones wanted to film a follow up with me. This was really great news as not only did it offer me the chance to get closure in a more positive way but also, again, more exposure but this time more on my terms.
The second programme was aired in September, the only downside being that I hadn’t actually seen the first one before we did the filming, so it was hard to make relevant comments. Peter Jones was very positive although still unsure about what we did! I have since met with him off camera and he has been really helpful.
Going on the den was very hard, but there have been many positive things that have come out of it; great exposure and more business as a result of course, but more than that it made me re-evaluate the business and really think about how we can improve our message and our focus our objectives.
Sam Petter shares her experiences trying to slay a Dragon. This season certainly did highlight the businesses many mumpreneurs are well aware of everyday. Tatty Bumpkin has been on my radar since I started and I read an article about her in a local Baby Magazine, but I’m sure for many this was the exposure that Sam had dreamed of. For more information about Tatty Bumpkin www.tattybumpkin.com
“I stood by the giggle tree and laughed out loud…”