We thought it would help future Dragons Den participants to share our behind scenes story of being in the Den.
It all started with an email from a BBC researcher asking if we would consider applying to be part of BBC Dragons Den. Initially we didn't think much of it as we put it down to spam! Luckily we decided to check the authentic of the email by calling the BBC. The phone number was confirmed and we were at a loss. Accordingly to our motto 'when you work hard you get incredibly lucky', we decided to apply on the BBC website.
Before we know it we received a call from Yinka, a lovely Dragons Den team member, asking for the possibility to arrange a meeting. We met at the BBC offices in London where we were asked to tell our story on something which looked like a handy cam. I am sure the ones born during the 70's will know what i am talking about. It was hard since we were not prepared but we gave it our best shot.
One of the rules of Dragons Den is that you should not have met any of the Dragons beforehand. Dragons know nothing about the businesses pitching and they would have to make a decision on the spot with whatever data is available. This is also one of the reasons why some of the investments do not go through. In a month time we were attending the Natural & Organic Products Europe exhibition where Deborah Meaden was going to handing out the awards, so if we were going to pitch in the Den we would have to do this soon, again we didn't get a chance to think we said yes thinking we could always decline at the last moment if it was not right for us.
Then came the due diligence, anything you say on the BBC has to be verified. This process took 3 weeks. If Jacob were to say he was an engineer he would have had to produce his degree certificate and get clearance beforehand. We never expected this level of thorough due diligence. When we said we exported to Japan we had to produce invoices and website links of our Japanese customer!
Then came our trip to the BBC studios in Manchester. It was surreal since we were due to go there and then exhibit an the Natural and Organic Products Europe the next day so we were focused on planning for the show, the plus point was that the display we used for the show was the same for the exhibition and we didn't think or stress about what was about to happen.
We arrived the day before and the filming was planned to be the next day between 6am and 6pm. After a long drive from London and a short sleep we were picked up at 6am from the hotel reception along with some other participants who were waiting as well. Yinka was there and welcomed us to a waiting room. There we saw people memorising numbers and their pitch. We were discouraged to discuss each others pitch and told that there are cameras everywhere in the building except the toilets and the BBC could use any footage they deem fit for the program. In fact the footage you see of me looking stressed was during the time I was waiting to enter the Den and feeling the heat of the lights.
After a few of the participants were called into the Den, it came our turn. I was told to wait until the green light came on. I managed to keep still and keep my poise for a minute then I got a bit too much and started looking at the walls and decorations. After what felt like 8-10 minutes, the green light came on and I didn't even see it. I was prompted by one the crew to go in. The team are only one side of the set all other parts are filmed by what looks like professional versions of something like go pro cameras. I went in and removed the screen to reveal the Dragons. Everyone was glaring at me, I delivered my pitch without any issue. Although Manisha is camera shy and had requested me to pitch, as she is such a huge part of the business, Nick Jenkins requested Manisha join me. The rest is history every one loved the products, in our wildest dreams we expected 2 offers but was overwhelmed by all 5 making offers and we accepted without talking to the wall.
Did you know?
Although our pitch was 15 minutes we were there for over 3 hours
The lift doors open and close but the lift does not go anywhere
Have you noticed that the Dragons wear the same outfit throughout the seaso. This I believe is for easy editing and mixing and matching of the various pitches.
Jacob Thundil - Chief Nut aka The Coconut Man