Dragons’ Den: Dancing intros, designer toothbrushes and past best-before food

Immediately catching the eye of the Dragons’ with a slightly corny little dance routine was Charlotte King, and her company “Shoe Look”. Charlotte’s product took inspiration from the iconic Louboutin red sole, and claimed that Shoe Look would give “soul to soles” through sticking a pretty patterned sticker on the soles of your heels to jazz them up a bit. Anyone interested in shoes or fashion knows how this has worked for Louboutin, however a £2.99 sticker that may as well be a piece of wrapping paper (Peter’s words) might not quite have the same effect.

The issues the Dragons’ faced with Charlotte’s product were numerous – first of all the durability of the sticker was questioned, and then the fit of the sticker to a pair of shoes. None of the issues the Dragons had could be addressed or fixed, including those regarding the small profit margins and lack of room for investment. Charlotte left the Den with well-wishes from the Dragons but no investments.

From the sing-song pitch of a theatre girl, next came the uncomfortable and stutter filled pitch of Andy and Dan. Approved Food Ltd aims to obliterate the idea of best before dates by selling food at or past this at a cheaper price. With backgrounds in market trading, selling food at cut price is a no brainer, and the website Andy and Dan have created holds up. However issues started to form when questions came about the valuation of their business. It seemed that figures were plucked out of thin air, and with the revelation that a house was remortgaged and loans were being personally guaranteed, it became more and more apparent that these nice guys were too close to their idea to see the reality of the money it could make for them. The Dragons hung onto their money a little longer as Andy and Dan left the Den.

The Dragons’ got a little bit of a scare when faced with the next product – eco-friendly coffins, made from compacted straw. Although similar in appearance to wood, the material didn’t hold many other benefits, and the pitch quickly turned into a deforestation debate amongst the Dragons. None of them were interested in this product and no offers were made.

The next product surely must exist only so that the practically minded (such as myself) can have reason to bang their head against a wall. Pitching the Dot Range, Ryan brought into the Den a range of electric toothbrushes with seemingly the sole purpose of being pleasing to the eye. For so many reasons this type of product will not work – firstly because the market leaders sell their products by demonstrating the benefits (i.e. this toothbrush will clean your teeth using method X), and this is surely the only reason anyone would need to buy a toothbrush. I own an electric toothbrush made by one of these leading brands; it is white and blue, and I am extremely happy with it because cleans my teeth well (and has the ability to stand up, unlike Ryan’s).

The Dragons’ had an array of questions, especially about the price (£99.99, for a toothbrush that’s unique feature is its appearance), and whether an electric toothbrush even has a battery in it (Duncan’s misunderstanding of how charging a device works). Kelly said that she didn’t understand why toothbrushes were only made in white, but I can answer this; white is clean, white is pure, and white is clinical, there is nothing else you should want to be putting in your mouth to keep it clean.

Despite an order already from Boots, the Dragons’ didn’t fancy taking a chance on a product yet to sell, and no offers were made.

Moving on to one of the more random products to grace the Den, next to arrive was Simon Perks, a chess enthusiast with a unique spin on the chess set. With a range of designs, including a glow in the dark style set, Simon’s product is high quality and what he considers to be a collector’s item. Having sold fourteen at over £1000, he is most likely correct, however it was not for the Dragon’s, and yet again this week, no investments were made.

Lastly into the Den walked two stylish young ladies, Levi and Dana, representing Enclothed. Hoping to make clothes shopping a less painful experience, Enclothed offer an online personal shopping experience for men, using state of the art software and a team of stylists. The customer sets parameters on the website, the software outputs a list of items that fit, the stylists select those that work for the customer, and a box is sent to them. The customer then chooses what they like and sends back what they don’t, and simply pays for what they keep at standard retail prices.

After a grilling from Peter, all of the Dragons’ showed an interest in this business, and seemed very impressed with Dana and Levi. Peter was the first to make an offer, asking for 20 per cent equity if he were to invest all of the money. Next to chip in was Piers, who suggested that he should go halves with a female dragon, and offered half of the money for 7.5 per cent. Kelly then matched this offer, while Deborah offered all of the money for 15 per cent, with the add on that she would also be happy to split the investment.

Considering that the software is fundamental to the business, Piers would be a great Dragon to have on side, while Kelly’s design background would be an asset. After some deliberation, Kelly and Piers were accepted.

This week only one pitch resulted in any offers being made by the Dragons’. It seems that it is becoming increasingly difficult to impress in the Den, and so next week we hope to see the bar being raised even more. For now I have no doubt that businesses like Enclothed will become more common, stickers for shoe soles will not, and that I will never wish for my toothbrush to be a fashion accessory.


Cara's Dragon Watch

Cara Lack will be joining us each week to take us through the good, bad and ugly pitches of the season.

Cara Lack will be joining us each week to take us through the good, bad and ugly pitches of the season.