From the moment Texan cowboy Joe Walters enters the Dragon’s Den and sings them a bullshit country-western song about his bullshit Original Jerky product it’s obvious that he is going to leave with the Dragon’s hearts and a sizeable wedge of their money. Yeah, they’re hard as nails when bullying some halfwit global brand manager who hasn’t done their sums but as Levi Roots found out play them a quick ditty and they’re putty in your hands. In his bespoke spangly suit and stetson Joe tells them that in Texas beef jerky is a way of life – so is lynching, marrying roadkill and creationism but you don’t hear him recommending them. Not that it would matter. Rational thought went out of the window long ago and now it’s all about lovable old Joe and his salt saturated death gunk. Towards the end of the question-and-answer session Joe drops the bomb that Brewdog have told him they will match ANY Dragon’s offer. If the Dragons weren’t wet for him before they certainly are now.
Smelly Ploppen jumps first and offers him exactly what he came in asking for: £37,500 for 16%. It’s a bold move but wait – who’s that snuffling and billowing in the shadows? Why, it’s Devourer Medung who brilliantly overcuts Smelly with a worse offer. Pies follow suit with an identical offer to Devourer’s. Now it’s down to Peeturd who after much thought offers £50,000 for 25%. Big Joe haggles him down to 24% and gets himself a deal. He offers a “yeeee-haww!” as he departs and well he might having completed perhaps the most comprehensive scalping since one of his ancestors worked his way through a pile of dead Native American babies.
He offers a “yeeee-haww!” as he departs and well he might having completed perhaps the most comprehensive scalping since one of his ancestors worked his way through a pile of dead Native American babies.
Not everyone is so fortunate. Waqar Hassan rolls up looking for £75,000 for 20% equity in his tablet book cover concept. He makes handcrafted cases for tablet computers and smart phones that look a bit like a book covers and inside is your tablet computer. Seems plausible enough. In handling it though Peeturd Blownes has discovered a slight flaw: once inside the tablet persistently slips out. Hassan’s explanation? “It does fit but it does slip”.
“Oh Wanqar that’s awful” says Blownes demonstrating the razor-sharp perception that allowed him to snap up indie giants Hamfatter for just £22m. “It’s not fit for purpose”. It’s not even fit for porpoise. The Dragons have an impromptu whip round to buy Wanqar a bowl of short shrift and send him on his way.
“It’s not fit for purpose”. It’s not even fit for porpoise. The Dragons have an impromptu whip round to buy Wanqar a bowl of short shrift and send him on his way.
Maybe Malcolm Victory will fare better? He has exactly kind of get ahead alpha name Homer Simpson was hoping for before he settled on Max Power. His fantastic Rotaire Dryline is a giant black cover that goes over a rotary washing line for when it’s raining. Perhaps the first problem with this is that it looks like crippled lamppost in mourning. “I look at it and I lose the will to live” says Smelly Ploppen totally sincerely. When he tells her he’s been working on it for 5 years she quite reasonably asks “doing what?”
Pies has at least been excited by something “I’ve had a vision of this in Kelly’s garden with Kelly fighting through the wind and rain to get her knickers off it”. What’s that, Pies? You want to get Smelly’s knickers off? Smelly doesn’t like the sound of that and nor do I. It’s a bum rush for Malcolm and Victory for once is not his.
“I’ve had a vision of this in Kelly’s garden with Kelly fighting through the wind and rain to get her knickers off it”. What’s that, Pies? You want to get Smelly’s knickers off? Smelly doesn’t like the sound of that and nor do I.
Also pushing her luck is Donna Kerr-Foley (whose real name is Donna Carefully but she insists on spelling it phonetically for her North East brethren). She’s pushing the Running Mat Limited which is a gym mat you wear as a belt when you’re running then whip it off and use it as a mat. She’s after £50,000 for a 25% stake. “Is this a joke?” asks an apoplectic Jock McSlasher. “I’ve seen some stupid investments in the Den but this takes the biscuit. I’m oot, the noo.” Peeturd quickly follows. It’s looking dicey for Donna but Smelly and Devourer like her moxie and for their investment they want 40% of the shitty mat and Donna’s already profitable No Lippy Boot Camp operation. It’s a brutal turding for McSlasher who seem certain to take bloody revenge in future episodes.
It’s a brutal turding for McSlasher who seem certain to take bloody revenge in future episodes.
I don’t know if we learn anything profound about business in Dragon’s Den but the simplicity and portability of ideas are certainly big factors. Everyone remembers Reggae Reggae Sauce with its Rastamouse branding and everyone will remember the singing cowboy and his beef jerky. If the consumer has to stop to think about what your product is then you’ve already lost the battle. Venture capitalists instinctively know this and now thanks to Smelly, McSlasher, Pies & Co. we do too. Christ but we’re lucky to have them.
The verdict: Mat? Finish.
Marks out of 10: 7