Dragons’ Den blog: Episode 3 Series 9

Posted on by Nell Frizzell

So, we have “Five of Britain’s wealthiest and most enterprising business leaders,” sitting in a warehouse apparently designed by Travelodge and lit by the London Dungeon. According to Evan Davis, these fire-breathing business bods will “make or break the dream of budding entrepreneurs,” over the coming weeks. Imagine the love child of Jimmy Savile and Bill Gates. Actually, don’t. You’ll never sleep again.

According to Evan, they’ve all built their empires up from scratch. Arguably, the same could be said of mosquitoes.

“The best will leave with backing for their business. The rest will leave with nothing,” reiterates Evan Davis. I didn’t know they strip-searched them on their way out. Seems a little harsh.

The first business to pitch is the mischievously titled Rascal Dog Litter. It appears to be two women holding fluffy dog toys as a man shifts uncomfortably between them. This is husband and wife team Mina and Tim, plus their US investor Patricia. “As you can see, I love dogs” says Mina, which is a touch harsh seeing as her husband is standing right next to her.

“It’s a little bit much to expect your dog to hold his bladder for hours on end,” says the ever understanding Mina. Although, I feel duty-bound to point out that this is sort of what lampposts and bins were invented for. Well, that and to provide an early form of dog-specific Twitter. The kit centres on a “machine-washable grass pad”. Maybe Bodyform could approach the organic menstrual market for investment.

It’s nice to see that haulage expert Hilary has strapped on her white wing pads again for the show. Now, Hilary has some sympathy for Mina, Tim and ‘Tish as her dogs are apparently too shy to make like bears in the woods. So, she is understandably concerned about her “teacup yorkies”. I’m pretty sure they are a biscuit, but hey, who am I to argue with a woman wearing clouds as shoulder dressings?

Luckily, Patricia has a training spray. It mimics the smell of collaborative dog piss, which is a perfume that I fear Lynx cornered years ago. Still, its just the mood-maker my new kitchen has been looking for. The Rascal turnover may be up £100,000. Who knows? Not Tim. The profit figures are more elusive than a flushable dog toilet. Deborah doesn’t like the idea. She thinks dogs should go outside.

Duncan then shouts down Mina as she’s trying to explain that dogs are just like a family member. Well, I know my great uncle Bob certainly could have benefitted from a washable grass pad. Especially after Christmas lunch.

Fairly unsurprisingly all the Dragons are out. Which makes the sight of two strangers clutching fluffy toy dogs strangely heart-rending.

The second pitch starts, like all great business deals, with some booze.  In particular an all-you-can drinks member’s bar. Which makes Deborah worry that all her staff will be pished. Some people have no vision. Well, no double vision, anyway.

Peter Heart from Poole is a fruit and veg man who appears to have brought half a pound of family with him for the pitch. This is more oddly dressed children than a Geldof family bash. And balloons. Lots of balloons. The business idea is to franchise the Heart’s existing fancy dress business, Fun Fancy Dress. They are currently making a fairly healthy profit and employ seven people. Presumably these employees aren’t all children dressed as Kanye West and the Village People. Sadly, as the conversation turns technical the mood deflates like a blow-up Rolf Harris costume.

But what’s this? Duncan Bannatyne is stepping in to save the day? Only with a 60% ownership deal, which then gets haggled down to £100,000 for 50%. Nice work Veg Man. Nice work indeed.

As Evan points out, entrepreneurs have to make their idea stand out. Which, in the case of Leon Lee from Kent doesn’t just extend to having the same name twice, but also stripping down to his vest. Or weight-loss clothing, as he calls it. Peter Jones whips on one of Leon’s batman suits, which has been proven by Preston University. That’s a little like saying that your protein shake has been proven by the Redruth Agricultural College, but what the hey.

Next up we have former electronic engineer Alexandre Tomich, who I’m pretty sure is wearing his dad’s corduroy jacket. Alexandre wants £80,000 investment for his Philharmonic, portable, remotely-controlled lights. Poor old Alexandre is more nervous, breathy and panicked than a sixth former asking his sex education teacher out for dinner. Never mind. Maybe he can blind them with his apocalyptic lights display.

“Duncan Bannatyne is not looking impressed,” intones Evan. Well, that makes a change. Alexandre is a self-made refugee who feels at home tinkering with the switches of Britain, he tells the panel. However, Hilary is struggling to imagine Alexandre being regular. The boy probably just needs some muesli. Or prunes.

Will Peter Jones offer the olive branch of almost total ownership? Sadly, no. But all Dragons treat the Grandmaster Flash with respect and admiration. So, that’s nice.

The final pitch comes from the brotherly love team of Jim and Richard George. These two – who have made the effort to come along wearing not just matching suits, but matching faces – approach the Dragons for £160,000 for 20% ownership. Their product is basically a plastic coat for fence posts that you apply with a blowtorch. You see, this is why I never wore shell suits too close to a radiator.

Before these fence jackets, the brothers George were producing what they call “door products,” whatever in the name of knobs and knockers they are. Doors, presumably. Which is probably a good track record business-wise, if not grammatically. No wonder Network Rail are interested.

Deborah offers all the money for 35% of the business, but she is rebutted like sheep spring-boarding in to a dry stone wall. Theo offers all the money, but for 30% ownership, while Hilary is happy to bunk up with Duncan and split the investment. Which means four offers on the table but for more ownership than they’d hoped for.

Sadly, the fabulous George boys manage to throw it all away with an audacious and possibly unwise set of refusals. As dragon after dragon pulls out, it’s like watching Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum get beaten about the head with a cement fleece.

Oh well. In the words of Evan Davies, at least it shows that if you don’t like a deal, you can always walk away. I hope you’re listening Noel Edmonds. I hope you’re listening.

This entry was posted in Misc and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.