Is appearing on Dragons' Den worth it?
Dan Cluderay was grilled for two hours by the Dragons when he appeared in 2015 but doesn’t regret it for a second despite not getting a penny of investment.
Sheffield-based Approved Food is now Britain's largest online retailer of clearance food and drink, and Cluderay is regularly still asked about his appearance on the show.
“TV advertising on prime time costs around £100k per minute,” he said. “We hoped for five minutes of fame and got 10. We got national recognition and a boat load of new customers and suppliers.”
Naomi Timperley stayed in touch with Dragon Deborah Meaden long after the cameras stopped rolling.
Timperley turned down investment from Meaden, who is famous for her finger tapping, when she appeared on series six in 2008 with her business Baby Loves Disco.
Manchester-based Timperley now works with tech and digital businesses having sold her stake in the company but says Meaden is nothing like her public persona.
“Me and Deborah Meaden follow each other on Twitter and occasionally tweet,” she said. “We did a follow up with Dragons’ Den and Deborah came up to Manchester and off camera was wonderful. Really decent, intelligent woman who I would totally go to the pub with.”
Steve Pearce and Sam Coley made national headlines when they turned down three investment offers from the Dragons.
Left Steve Pearce, Right Dan Cluderay
However, the tech-focused ticketing firm TickX subsequently ended up raising 40 times the amount offered on the BBC show.
The pair have since secured £3 million in investment and had 2.5m people using their ticket search engine site in 2018.
Peter Jones revealed during the pitch that they’d received backing from Ministry of Sound but that didn’t make the eventual edit.
“It was a slight worry when the episode aired that it might have annoyed one of our major backers, however he did also say that TickX could be the Uber of events so we will let him off,” joked Pearce.
“Featuring on Dragons' Den is once- in-a-lifetime experience, which can result in investment and great publicity so if the opportunity presents itself we would definitely recommend going for it, although one visit to the ‘Den is enough for me… never again.”
Melissa Snover showcased her Katjes Magic Candy Factory and Nourished when she appeared before the Dragons but had no investment offers.
Filming took place in April 2018 but it wasn’t screened until January 2019.
She recalled: “I presented two of my brands - Magic Candy Factory which is a patented 3D printer I developed to create customised confectionery and Nourished; the world’s first truly personalised nutrition product.
“The Dragons loved both concepts and recognised that both technologies are incredibly innovative and will be at the forefront of our industries. However, they decided not to invest at the time as the company had a majority shareholding with my business partner, who I have a wonderful relationship with and am extremely grateful to.
“Obviously a huge amount of editing goes into each episode and they are only able to show around 15 minutes of each entrepreneur, when really I was in the Den for over three hours pitching and answering questions. Unfortunately my most memorable moments didn’t make it on air.”
Snover says appearing on the show definitely raised her profile. “We have had a lot of enquiries through for both businesses as a result of appearing on Dragons’ Den, but I believe we could have achieved similar results had we focused the same time and resources into doing our own PR and marketing,” she adds.
Would she recommend other companies, especially start-up, appear on the show? “For a start-up, the amount of due diligence and documentation you have to provide is extensive and can be a strain on a small team. The BBC approached us to go in the Den, and we provided all details of our shareholding before appearing on the show so I did find the way they edited the piece and the process overall a little frustrating. Having said that, it was certainly a learning curve and gave our brands some great exposure.”