When we think of Dragons Den, most people probably picture someone uncomfortably pitching an idea to a panel of investors, while they wait for the opportunity to tear apart any business plan in the hope of embarrassing the business owner; for no other reason than entertainment. We all imagine a TV show.
Before Christmas I experienced my first Dragons Den and it was far from any show I had seen.
This was a practice run for the real Dragons Den later this year, but that didn’t make it any easier. We still had a panel of potential investors/judges and we still had to pitch our idea.
Our product is a stylish umbrella bag that has an absorbent, machine washable inner cloth, making it easier to carry an umbrella with you after you have used it. It means you no longer need to leave your soggy brolly at the door of a building, or carry it with you once you get in doors.
We want our product and our business to be fun, so it made sense for our pitch to be as well. We decided to try a more theatrical approach, to get all the necessary information across in a co-ordinated performance, hoping that would help us to stand out. We wrote up a script and rehearsed the performance, but to pull something like that off well, you need to put a lot of time into it. That was the first thing I learned.
We gave some background on our product, how it works, who we feel is our initial user, how we intend to reach our user, how we will produce our bag and how will the numbers work.
When we finished, it was time to answer questions, to really put our knowledge and research to the test.
Our feedback was varied, but positive. We know we need to consider some aspects in more detail – our initial target user, we really need to understand who they are and why they will use our product over another potential user. We need to know every detail of the production process, how we are going to physically make our product and how the financials work. It’s the only way we can learn how much we can sell it for. But one change we didn’t expect was the name of our product. Originally, we named the product Konveenients, but a when one judge suggested Homebrella, it was too good to pass on, a revelation (thanks Fernando).
As much as we learned from our pitch, we also got to see the pitch of the other businesses, to see how they work and think differently. Each pitch and product were unique and the result of teams made up of individuals all with contrasting complimentary backgrounds. Hours of collaboration and creativity all coming together and being presented.
The Dragons Den gave us a feel for what the real event will be like in March, but it also really showed us where we are at and where we need to be with our product. It pointed out more opportunities for us that we may not have known on our own. There were no insults, no berating, only constructive feedback, designed to help us and get our minds thinking about the real issues for where we need to get to.
We can now look forward to the next Dragons Den with confidence and a better idea of what we need to do to prepare. We have a good understanding of what information needs to be clear in our presentation.
The first semester went by in a flash, and this one will be even quicker. This is the best time to implement our lean start up knowledge, and get moving as quickly as possible so we can learn.