Dragons’ set bush tucker trial to get investment funding

This week’s episode of Dragons’ Den, the second in this series, kicked off in a very similar way to the first…. breaking into dance. This time with an Indian theme, the Spice 2 Go dancers were lively and colourful, but sadly this was where the excitement stopped. Tej’s plans were for an  Indian takeaway version of Dominos Pizza, which, whilst potentially a good idea in theory, proved to be badly thought through.

The Dragons were split on their opinions of the branding, and Piers called the food “microwave curry”, leaving little hope that Tej would leave with his requested £75,000 for 10 per cent of his business.

Continuing on with a very food based episode, next into the Den came Daniel and Matt and their product, Pure Pet Food. Pure promised low processing and human quality dog food with many vet recommended health benefits. Their belief in their product and recipe became apparent upon Peter’s request for them to eat it themselves, the brave boys obliged.

Daniel and Matt clearly had a lot of passion for their product and were very proud, proving their exceptional knowledge with answers to every question thrown at them. Deborah, as an investor in another pet food company, offered the full £40,000 but wanted 30 per cent of the company over the initial 10 per cent. Kelly then highlighted her skills and contacts within marketing and also offered the full amount, for 20 per cent. After much deliberation the guys rejected both offers, due to feeling uncomfortable giving away so much of their business. Whilst this is an understandable and almost admirable decision, whether it proves a sensible one was in doubt with the Dragons.

Via a quick detour around neon coloured male grooming products such as shaving gels, which all Dragons dismissed, we then ended up back at food, with Spoon Cereals founded by Johnny and Annie.

Whilst still in the early stages of their business, Johnny and Annie asked for £50,000 for a 10 per cent share of their business based around healthy and convenient breakfasts. The market, as Johnny’s astounding knowledge confirmed, is saturated in this kind of product from a retail point of view, however there is a big gap for small pop-up stalls, which they currently have in London where they offer customisable breakfast pots of granola or muesli and choices of fresh toppings. Convenient breakfasts to go are not something we have an abundance of, and healthy choices are even rarer. Johnny and Annie need the investment from the Dragons before their savings run out.

All of the Dragons liked their retail products, but it surprised me how little interest they showed in the idea of Spoon Cereals food outlets. After it was suggested that maybe the business is too small at this stage, both Peter and Deborah offered the full £50,000 for a 30 per cent share. Eventually the decision was made that they would split this offer in half and work together, and everyone left the Den happy.

Next up in the den were Norman and his natural history and taxidermy products which, were quickly ripped to shreds for the hypocritical nature of his desire to be ethical alongside using animals that were bred to be killed. No offers were made, and Norman, his buffalo, and all the weird skeletons left the Den.

The last pitch of this week’s episode was one that excited me. As one of those children who could never find their name on anything in souvenir shops, Lost My Name’s product seemed wonderful to the child in me. Lost My Name are an online business, customising books for children using their own names. The boy or girl in the story wakes up one morning having lost their name, and they go on an adventure to find it, meeting different creatures who give them clues. Whilst the creatures in their example (an eagle, a mermaid, an Inuit, a lion, a yeti) at first seemed random, at the end they came together to spell “Emily”.

However despite such a lovely idea, there came problems. With big investments already from venture capitalists, and a request of £100,000 for only 4 per cent of the business, the Dragons were very reluctant to invest. All withdrew one by one, until only Piers was left. Piers did offer all of the money, but he wanted to have the same terms as the current investors, and wanted a 5 per cent share. This was accepted subject to the investors agreeing, which they later did.

Despite many flaws in plans across this episode, there are two standout products. I would love to see Spoon Cereals as a chain food outlet, and I can even see it in drive-thru format.

And Lost My Name, as a child something I would’ve loved, is something I would one day buy for my own child. I do believe that the problem I had having an uncommon name is becoming even more of a common problem, and this idea of personalising something that could be a big part of a childhood is something I’m sure a lot of parents would buy into.

I honestly hope that both of these businesses continue to grow now that they have taken the step forward into the Den, and I hope to be just as excited next week.