A London VC fund is offering hopeful entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch for a ‘more realistic’ chance of investment, rather than turning to Dragons’ Den.

Fuel Ventures says it wants to challenge the wide-spread misconceptions perpetuated by the BBC show and offer start-ups the opportunity to meet with its own investors in a ‘more realistic and informal environment, without the theatrics’.

It also found that in 12 series of Dragons’ Den, 46 per cent of deals have failed and a further 27 per cent of companies have dissolved after filming.

In comparison, Fuel Ventures’ portfolio of companies have generated more than £100 million in revenue since the firm launched in 2014. Its roster includes software platform Paddle, named as the fastest growing software company in the UK Deloitte Fast 50, with revenue growth of 3,300 per cent in the last three years; digital gift card platform WeGift; and social commerce platform Moteefe.

“The main thing that entrepreneurs need to understand is that Dragons’ Den won’t catapult you from pitches to riches straight away,” Mark Pearson, founder of Fuel Ventures, said. “Almost half of deals made on the show fail, so there’s a lot going on behind the scenes you don’t see.

“That’s why we’re offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch to our investors in a more realistic and informal environment, without the theatrics.

“Investors shouldn’t be trying to catch you out or trip you up. Pitching should be a normal business conversation like any other – in the real world, all investors want is to get to know you and your business.

“Our ethos at Fuel Ventures hasn’t changed since we launched in 2014 – we only invest in companies we believe have the potential to return 100x and play a very supportive role in both the development and ongoing fundraising to help them on that path.

“We say we are a fund by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and that’s important to us.”
Since the BBC programme launched in 2005, 17 Dragons have invested more than £4m in a variety of start-up companies.

At present, Fuel Ventures is investing at the rate of one company a month, setting aside up to £2m per portfolio company.