Ranging from new takes on existing ideas to problem solvers proving that some people literally think of everything, we’ve got some good, and some less so, to get through this week.
First up this week was a lovely young chap named Ryan, pitching flavourly.com. Using independent suppliers, Flavourly delivers boxes of various snacks and foods to subscribers, introducing them to new products.
The Dragons were all impressed with Ryan, however an issue that Kelly in particular had was that the subscribers currently don’t get to choose what goes in their box. Amongst other snags such as a seemingly random business valuation, and the presence of other investors in the business, the Dragons still managed to see the good in Flavourly and Ryan’s commitment. Whilst currently being unable to tailor boxes for each customer was a fatal flaw for Kelly, the remaining four Dragons made offers. Duncan, Deborah and Piers all offered half of the money and requested 10 per cent equity, whilst Peter offered the full amount for 20 per cent. Considering the existence of multiple investors already, choosing Peter would simplify Ryan’s finances a little. However clearly with an idea already of who could help him, Ryan suggested Peter join forces with Piers, and both accepted.
Gliding into the Den next were Scott and Sam, creators of Turbo Wheel. Almost like a Segway but with nothing to hold onto, this device was apparently aimed at commuters. Piers had a little test drive, whilst Peter suggested that this is an inappropriate mode of transport as it could be unsafe and would cause fights. Although this may be a slight exaggeration, his point is correct. There is a reason those who commute don’t do it on roller skates, and that’s because they want to remain under control and not look silly, which also rings true for this product. This could be a fun toy for children, however its £750 RRP means that it’s unlikely any will be sold to this market. The Dragons clearly felt the same way and no offers were made.
Next in and fully prepared for nothing but sending the Dragons (and me) to sleep were David and Sean, who had created Colapz, a range of collapsible camping products. With a pitch that was stalled by Sean forgetting his lines, these guys didn’t start themselves off in the right manner, and this carried on for them. Even ignoring the fact that crumbling under pressure is not a good sign, other complexities within the business plan caused the Dragons to retreat. None of the Dragons made any offers, but this was probably because they were still trying to work out why you would pitch camping equipment but bring along a watering can for demonstration.
Growing from a family tradition, Nicky and Lindsay entered the Den to pitch Granny Marmalade. Using old recipes for an authentic product, these jars of marmalade stand for old-fashioned values. However the Dragons saw an issue here – they loved the name, but the contemporary branding did not give off this message.
As is common in people invested in their own idea, it was clear that the ladies did not take the Dragons’ feedback and advice, and were adamant that their research supported their branding. Both ladies believed in their product maybe a little too much, and did not seem to accept comments from the Dragons that could have helped them, and ultimately their time in the Den was brought to a close with no money being handed over.
As for Nicky and Lindsay, a little bit of maths may be required to give them the reality check that they need. If 20 stores are stocking their product and each sell around 6 units a week, that is 120 units. If it costs just under £2 to manufacture each unit, and these are being purchased by the stockists at £2.40 each, Nicky and Lindsay are making an approximate net profit of £48 per week, working out at roughly £2500 per year. Of course these numbers are rounded up and estimated based on the figures given during the pitch, but it only requires some basic maths and a little bit of realism to work this one out, and this just proves the extremity of the personal investment Nicky and Lindsay have in their product.
Backing away from the numbers now and into a few acres of land with a new throw and catch game for kids. This game almost resembled a slingshot and catcher’s mitt encompassed into one device that enables you to throw long distances. The Dragons seemed unimpressed; Piers said that you would need a huge space to be able to play this game, and Kelly recognised pitcher Nick from his previous design work, which she praised highly before proceeding to ask what he is doing being involved in this product. None of the Dragons saw the appeal and no offers were made.
Rounding off this week with product that is the definition of niche were John and Sam. Proving that there are solutions to problems that I would never in a million years have thought of, John and Sam presented Seabung, a plug style device that enables the flow of water within a specific area of a boat to stop so that a valve can be changed. Ordinarily this would be a process that would require taking the boat out of water, and therefore taking up a lot time, but this little rubber bung enables the job to be done in no time at all whilst the boat remains on the water.
All Dragons (excluding a grumpy Duncan) liked the product and seemed very impressed with all aspects of the business. The hope of a legislation change that would mean all boats would need to carry this equipment on board in case of emergency meant that the potential of this investment for the Dragons was huge. Deborah offered half of the money but requested 10 per cent equity, and Kelly then replicated this offer. After much discussion, John and Sam attempted to lower the percentages Deborah and Kelly would take, but both dug their heels in and eventually had their offers accepted.
This week’s array of personalities, pitches and products provided us with some hope. Whilst Ryan and flavourly.com will most likely do well, this will be nothing compared to the success of Seabung if it can become a necessity on the same level as a life-jacket.
Next week will be the last in series 12 of Dragons’ Den, and it must be time for the Dragons to relieve themselves of some of that cash they’ve been hanging onto.