ABOUT DRAGONS' DEN UK
About the Show
Dragons’ Den is a reality TV show that has positively impacted the small businesses of the UK by providing a platform for a thought provoking debate on innovative business ideas. Although the original concept of this show came from Japan, the BBC’s version of Dragons’ Den has gained enormous popularity and attracted a huge number of viewers from UK and all around the world.
The first episode of this show went on air on 4th January 2005 and since then, it has become a trademark show that brings the thrilling scrutiny of the pitches made to the Dragons. Every episode comes with excitement, surprise, innovative ideas and debates that is entertaining and educational at the same time.
Format of the Show
Evan Davis, the host of the show, starts each episode with giving a subtle insight of the episode and brief commentary about the rules to be followed in the Den. One by one, each candidate takes the lift to the Den at third floor to lure the Dragons with innovative ideas and well-articulated business proposals. In order to get financial assistance and guidance that can turn their venture into a success, the entrepreneurs have to make a well-articulated pitch and survive the grilling questions of the five multi-millionaire Dragons in the Den. They try their best to impress the Dragons by answering any questions that the Dragons have about the business as failing to do so will make the Dragons opt themselves out.
The way Dragons sit in the centre of the room with a bundle of cash stacked beside them on a table, symbolising that they are ready to provide investments to any candidate who shows promise. In Series 14, the Dragons are Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman, Sarah Willingham and Nick Jenkins.
The ambitious entrepreneurs enter the Den to present their pitch in three minutes. Depending on the type of business, they also perform a demonstration of their ideas or let the Dragons try the products to learn more about the business idea. Once the pitch has been made – the grilling begins. The Dragons drill down on the details of the business such as the cost and revenue for the product, the size of the market, potential of the business idea, and so on. The entrepreneurs are expected to answer the questions to demonstrate their knowledge of the business and industry and at the same time convince the Dragons that the business has a bright future.
The rules allow the entrepreneurs to remain silent in response to a question. However, doing so always leaves a negative impact on their chances of receiving an investment. An inappropriate answer or an ambiguity in the proposal alarms the Dragons which mostly results in an empty-handed exit from the Den. The Dragons show no mercy when it comes to business. Their vast experience in the world of business helps them to vigilantly analyze complex business scenario quickly without missing any small details.
Once one or more Dragons are convinced, they make an offer to invest in exchange for a stake in the company. The offer can be more or less than the amount proposed by the candidates. The entrepreneurs are allowed to negotiate the offer until both parties reach an agreement. They also have the right to decline offers that seem inappropriate to them.
Impact of the Show
While watching this show, viewers can learn about the ins and outs in the world of business. Analyzing how much a business is worth in a short time is not easy but watching how the Dragons ask questions about different businesses and industries teaches a lot to both the entrepreneurs and viewers who dream of running a business in the future. Compared to 2005, the number of businesses registered per year has doubled in the UK – which reflects the increased awareness resolve in business and entrepreneurship among British citizens. Watching the wealthy Dragons showing interest in promising ideas on Dragons’ Den could have encouraged many budding entrepreneurs to take plunge and begin their own venture.
It is noteworthy that even if the Dragons do not invest in a business, it doesn’t mean that the business cannot succeed on its own. Rob Law, the founder of Trunki, proved the Dragons wrong with his hard work and determination after getting rejected by the Dragons in 2006. Today, Trunki’s growth is on the rise with its revenue reaching over £8 million– making his ask of £100,000 for 10% equity on the show regret for the Dragons who didn’t support him by investing in Trunki.
Just looking at the names of businesses pitched in the Den makes it obvious that the emerging entrepreneurs are full of ideas in various industries. There are numerous success stories that appeared on Dragons’ Den. Some of the more successful businesses that are funded by the Dragons are:
Imran Hakim’s iTeddy gained the attention of Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis to get a multi-dragon investment of £140,000. The amazing cuddle buddy with media player, games and bedtime-stories was sold in over forty countries and generated millions of pounds for all the shareholders.
Swing Patrol proved that Deborah Meaden was right to foresee the upcoming success in Scott Cupit’s dance club. She invested £65,000 for a 20% equity. Subsequently, Swing Patrol won many awards in the UK as well as broke a world record to get its name entered in the Guinness book of world records.
Neil and Laura received £100,000 in a multi-dragon investment to promote the sales of their portable whiteboard. The Westwoods managed to return the invested money back to the Dragons within six years as well as launched Blackout Blinds and Cling Notes as a continuation of their entrepreneurial journey.
About the Dragons
Peter Jones is a dynamic multimillionaire who is involved in more than 40 businesses. He entered the business world with a chain of tennis coaching school in the UK. He is the only Dragon who is on the show since the first series of Dragons’ Den. His witty remarks, advices and analytical skills are what make viewers love him.
Early business failures and challenges didn’t shatter his determination to become a successful entrepreneur. In one of the episode, he revealed that he once had to spend eight months living in a warehouse with almost no money.
Born in 1966, Peter was brought up in Berkshire. From an early age, he had a strong desire to become successful. He regards John Woodward as his mentor. Peter’s interest in tennis brought him to John’s academy where he got inspiration for his first business.
His main area of expertise is telecommunication which has earned him fame and money. However, he does not limit himself to a particular field and has invested in different types of business wherever he saw the opportunity. To help the emerging entrepreneurs and train the youth for tomorrow’s challenges in the arena of business, he launched a foundation in 2005 named Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and another institution known as Tycoon – these organizations have played a vital role in the development of businesses in the UK. In recognition of his services to the businesses in the UK and the community, Peter was awarded the prestigious honor of the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2009.
Up to Series 14, Peter has invested over £4 million into businesses that appeared on Dragons’ Den and helped a lot of startups to reach the scale that would not be achievable without his help. His multi-Dragon investment with Richard Farleigh to invest in Keith Graham resulted in the superb success of the Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce business. Although a fellow Dragon predicted that the business had no future – Peter Jones believed in his insight. Today, it is one of his most successful investments on Dragons’ Den. He has since purchased the shares from Farleigh and is the sole shareholder in this sauce business. His investments in Love da Popcorn, Rempods and Bare Naked Foods also resulted in huge success.
In 2013, he recorded a program for BBC in which he meets successful businessperson to draw inspiration for the budding entrepreneurs. Today, his ventures together gross over £250 million in sales and have a large number of employees. He lives with his wife and five children in the UK and occasionally visits his resort in Portugal.
As one of the most experienced Dragons, Deborah Meaden is a strong voice in Dragons’ Den. She has had a dream of having her own business since she was a little child. She entered the world of business at the age of 19 after graduating from college. She started a glass and ceramic import company, however, she found out that the goods she was lawfully importing were also illegally obtained by some other shops. At that time, it was a big blow for her and although she could have taken the matter to the court – she decided to leave the business instead of spending large amounts of money on lawsuit.
Deborah didn’t let the first business failure sunk her hopes and she soon started running a franchise of Italian clothing. She also ran a prize bingo concession and proved her knack in business by turning these ventures into huge successes. After that, she joined her family business and worked hard to become the Managing Director of the leisure enterprise.
It is crucial to her that entrepreneur are honest and answer directly about their businesses. She also takes keen interest in the legal affairs of an enterprise before investing in it. Having learnt the harsh lessons of business herself, she tells the candidates that one has to be very clear about the action plan before launching any startup. She emphasizes the importance of research and gaining knowledge of the market that entrepreneurs are about to enter so that they may minimize the risk.
Deborah reserves the honor of investing in the most successful business on Dragons’ Den. In 2014, a young Jordan Daykin entered the Den with high hopes. He started his company “Griplt Fixing” in his garden shed in Wiltshire at the age of 13. Deborah saw the potential in him and invested £80,000 in his universal plasterboard fitting idea. He negotiated with Deborah and made her lower her ownership from 30 to 20 percent and later on expanded the business to north of £10 million.
After reaching the heights of success, Deborah defines her journey in these words: “I did what I wanted to do”. She spent a lifetime in the business industry showing her leadership qualities with a tough yet fair attitude towards her acquaintances. Deborah has a multidimensional personality – apart from business, she is also interested in animals, nature and social welfare. She lives with her husband and a big lot of pets in Somerset.
When a budding entrepreneur enters the Den, the inquisitive eyes behind the glasses of Touker Suleyman start screening the entrant. He is very expressive with his facial gestures and vivid body language when expressing his likings and displeasures to the viewers.
He is a veteran of the production and distribution industry and the owner of various top notch clothing brands in the UK. His beginnings were very modest and had to work hard for everything that he has earned. His genuine intuition and perseverance enabled him to start from scratch and climb up the ladder of a multimillionaire corporation.
He originally hails from Famagusta and belongs to a Turkish Cypriot family. Like most of the self-made entrepreneurs, Suleyman started a company “Low-profile” which manufactured and supplied their articles to clothing giants like Mark & Spencer.
He has a unique style and taste which makes him stand out in the area of his expertise. You may find him wearing a pair of red socks that clearly shows his bold sense of fashion. You’ll find him more daring when it comes to business – his portfolio includes the brands like Hawes & Curtis, Ghost, DocksRio and Bikesoup. Bikesoup is a well-known marketplace for new and used bicycles in the UK. Apart from his success in these niches, his investments in commercial property are also on the rise. He has been added to the star studded Dragon’s Den panel in 2015.
He resides in London with two of his daughters and has no plans to stop his intuitive urge of making fortune and fame as well as helping the budding start-ups to make them a success.
Although not as seasoned as Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden, Sarah Willingham justified her role as a Dragon in a short period of time. She is one of those multi-millionaires who have earned their reputation as business experts in a short time span. In Dragons’ Den, she is always eager to invest into innovative businesses run by progressive entrepreneurs.
She started working at the age of 11, however, she considers serving tea and sticky buns at a Stoke’s Cafe as her first real job. Sarah’s qualifications include an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. She started a chain of Indian restaurants which soon became a huge success. She started The Bombay Bicycle Club, one of the most successful Indian restaurant chains in the UK. She also served as a judge in The Restaurant series on BBC2 because of her proven expertise as a food business tycoon.
Sarah joined the Den in 2015, and received well deserved fame with her staunch opinions, an eye for spotting rare innovative concepts that can promise a fruitful return in the future.
A quality which makes Sarah special is her thirst to be surrounded by a variety of brilliant people. She is a strong believer of continuous improvement and learning till the last breath.
She is very straight forward. In order to convince her, the best a candidate can do is to speak to the point and avoid any ambiguity. Being a self-made person, she has a lot of respect for struggling entrepreneurs and their ideas of business. She also supports women empowerment and has been a great encouragement for the female entrepreneurs.
Nick Jenkins is an experienced professional in the technology and internet industry. He originally wanted to be an army officer but certain events, including the fall of Berlin wall, made him change his focus towards business. After getting an MBA from Cranfield University, he came up with the business plan of Moonpig.com. The plan stumbled in the beginning but it did not change Nick’s resolve. A great struggle of five years turned this idea into a profitable venture.
Nick has been investing in startups related to his field of expertise for a long time. Being trustee of Ark and a patron of Shivia, he is also seen as a philanthropist and a social worker.
At Dragons’ Den, he has invested in a variety of ventures ranging from a dating app “Double” to children’s science show provider “Sublime Science”. While participating in the show, he has invested a total of £842,000 in the first series.
Nick adds a charm to the show. He is always looking for a unique idea to invest his money. It does not matter which sector the business is, as long as it is not too simple and boring, Nick has shown great interest in it. He is very quick in analyzing a particular business scenario. When he likes something, he quickly shows his approval and in other cases, he rejects on the spot instead of letting the candidates linger on.
Nowadays, there are a lot of business ideas in the technology industry. Being an expert of this field, Nick not only judges the entrepreneurs but also makes it easy for other Dragons to point out the potential and risks of a business proposal with his sharp and to-the-point inquiries.