Dragon’s Den has had some strange and wonderful pitches which left the Dragon’s intrigued and bemused at the same time. However, there have been some pitches that grabbed the attention of the Dragons where they were fighting over who had control of the new business idea.
One of those that have had the most success is Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae sauce. He stood out from the pack and has gone on to great success in the food industry. So what is Dragons Den and what happens on the show?
What is Dragon’s Den?
Dragon’s Den is a popular show in the United Kingdom that focuses on business people who are looking to invest their money into up-and-coming entrepreneurs. The show originated in Japan, first aired in 2001 under the name Tigers of Money.
The show expanded to over 30 countries and is most popular in the United Kingdom as it is in its 18th series since the show started on the BBC in 2005.
The show has a panel of five wealthy investors who want to buy a stake in a business. It is up to the contestants to convince them to invest in their company. However, the Dragons will also have ownership in the business.
The more money the contestant wants the more of the business they will have to give up. Sometimes you will see all the Dragons wanting to invest but you will also see none of the Dragons wanting to invest in the startup.
People can pitch any idea they want to the Dragons to see if they will be picked up. There have been ideas like a new bookmakers for people to bet online to ride along with suitcases for kids!
There have been 19 different Dragons on the UK version of the show but from the start, there has only been Peter Jones but Deborah Meaden has been with the show since series two. The Dragons are usually fierce and want to probe the contestant further to show that their business is a serious investment for the Dragon.
They will ask tough questions and make the contestant feel uneasy sometimes but they are doing so to make the correct call about investing their money.
Interesting Behind the Scenes
The show has a few secrets to help the show run smoothly. The show does not always need applicants, sometimes producers will go and seek out budding entrepreneurs to pitch their idea. However, not everyone makes it on the show, they are vetted carefully on how robust their idea is and projected turnover.
When in “the Den”, contestants have just three minutes to convince the Dragons that they are the right person. This is also done because the Dragons have to see an awful lot of contestants as filming continues for 20 days straight.
Filming takes place in Salford at Media City and contestants get a tour of the studio where than can even take photos. However, they are not allowed in the chairs or meet the Dragons beforehand.
Although it looks like all deals are done on-screen former Dragon, Piers Linney told Real Business: “If it’s interesting we will grill them for two hours or more.
“Because it is your money, it’s reality and you’re not just going to fritter it away, you want to make good investments.”
There is a lot to consider and sometimes deals can even fall through even if it went well in “the Den” because the Dragons watch over the footage again to make sure they heard it right. Tigermobiles studied 143 companies who made successful pitches across all 11 series and claimed that just 76 investments actually went through.
Kelly Hoppen, who was a Dragon from 2013 to 2015, claimed the main reason came down to Dragons having to make the decision to invest in only an hour or two, which meant that vital details were sometimes missed.
Levi Roots- The success
In 2007 there was a man that stole the show, Levi Roots took the show by a storm and wowed all the Dragons. He arrived with his Jamaican barbeque sauce and his guitar which he used to pitch to the Dragons.
He impressed them so much that he actually got two investments from two different Dragons, Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh to invest £50,000 in return for 40% of his company.
Roots put his success down to his guitar. He told the Belfast Telegraph, “It caught their attention and I think I would have come a cropper if I didn’t have the guitar
It’s why people liked me and it’s the reason why people are still investing £1.49 in Reggae Reggae sauce, because of the fun moment when I combined music and food.
If I’d gone in without the guitar, I wouldn’t be here speaking to you, or I’d be speaking to you as one of the biggest losers of the Dragons’ Den, who made everyone laugh and was the butt of the jokes.”
Roots ran a jerk chicken stall at the Notting Hill Carnival for 15 years and now his sauce was readily available in most shops. Leading supermarket Sainsbury’s had expected the sauce to sell 50,000 bottles in its first year but instead sold 40,000-50,000 bottles per week!
Roots started to expand from the original recipe and release other products like his “Love Apple Tomato Sauce” and “Fiery Guava Dipping Sauce”. He also released a cookbook that had all the different flavors. Roots also managed to expand into the area of peanuts and fizzy drinks. The original sauce was also used with big corporations with KFC, Dominos, Birdseye, and Subway.
The company is worth an estimated £30 million according to the Sunday Times Rich List. Peter Jones remains a shareholder and advocate for the brand, claiming “it’s one of my most successful investments from the show”.
Roots is a household name and it is all thanks to Dragon’s Den; there is even rumored to be a movie about his life!
Other pitches have come and managed to make a great success. Companies such as Magic Whiteboard, Skinny Tan, Wonderbly, Razzamataz Theatre Schools, Chocbox, and Mainstage Festivals all impressed the Dragons and are still turning a profit today!