By Timothy Adler on Small Business UK – Advice and Ideas for UK Small Businesses and SMEs
There was a definite party feel in this week’s episode with pitches for adult summer camps, erotic handbags and an upside-down house to take selfies in.
First in to meet the fiery five were Lee and Julia, the owners of summer camp for adults Camp Wildfire, which offers daytime adventures and a night-time party vibe. The pair, fetchingly dressed as scouts, wanted £75,000 for a 5 per cent stake in their business – which, it later emerged, had run at a £10,000 loss for years. Despite this, they still estimated profits of £315,000 this year.
It was Peter Jones who first booed the concept offstage, followed by Touker Suleyman and Steven Bartlett, who, didn’t so much throw bottles as bottled any investment.
But Deborah Meaden, whose background is in running holiday campsites, offered all the money for a 25 per cent stake in the business. Lee and Julia then pointlessly tried to renegotiate her offer down and Deborah diva-rishly told them she was cancelling her gig. At which point, Lee and Julia fled the mainstage.
Speaking of night-time partying, next up were the aptly named Rebecca Joy and her partner Natalie Deana, who wanted £50,000 for a 10 per cent stake in their Frida Rome erotic vegan handbag range (yes, you read that right). Each non-leather bag contained a risqué extract from an erotic short story. Pitched as “the brand for bad girls who do good things”, they wanted £50,000 for a 10 per cent stake.
If sex sells, you wouldn’t have known it. “There’s nothing new about vegan bags,” said Touker Suleyman, who kept his clothes on. The pair were also spanked by three other dragons. Only Steven Bartlett was turned on by the concept, offering all the money for a 20 per cent stake in the brand. Rebecca and Natalie got back into the lift having bagged a deal.
Next up was a truly bizarre upside-down house for taking Instagram selfies in. Entrepreneur Tom wanted £160,000 for a 5 per cent stake and all the dragons swiped left on that one.
Third through the doors were Zak Lloyd and Aaron Branch, two Birmingham-based entrepreneurs who wanted £50,000 for an 8 -per cent stake in their home-delivery service DelivrMe. The concept is that you can get you anything you want, not just food and drink, delivered to your home.
The dragons pointed out that this model already exists in America and all it would take would be for a big US player to come in and eat their lunch.
“You’ve got a simple business model but you’ve overlayered it with lots of potential failure points,” added Deborah.
However, the dragons’ mouths dropped open when the pair revealed that what they really needed was a cash burn of £15m to scale their business. “You’re running towards a blazing inferno,” said Steven Bartlett.
The final contestants in last night’s episode provided a heart- and stomach-warming end to the show. Husband-and-wife Karen and Andy Turner wanted £50,000 for a 20 per cent stake in their pre-prepared soup business, the oddly named Kandy Kitchen Creations, a range of soups, stews and risottos in crinkly cellophane packets.
The jolly couple said their kitchen-table business had gone from making £2,000 turnover in 2017 with just £195 profit to an expected £90,000 turnover this year and £20,000 profit.
Touker Suleyman was first to smell a delicious opportunity. “This is potentially a million-pound business,” opined Touker, nostrils aquiver.
“I like partnering with genuinely good people who need a break,” said the normally dour Peter Jones, who broke into a most alarming grin.
The telecoms tycoon offered to split the £50,000 wanted with another dragon for a combined one third of the company, which Deborah Meaden agreed to. Touker then stirred the pot by making his own offer. In the end, all three of the senior dragons decided this business had all the right ingredients and split one third of the soup brand three ways.
Soup dragons, anyone?
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