Guide to Applying to get on Dragons Den

Airing in countries across the globe, Dragon’s Den is a firm favourite for TV viewers everywhere. But have you ever considered getting up off the couch and applying to showcase and demonstrate your latest invention, idea, or concept?

Well, here at Rainbow Zebra we’re keen to help would-be entrepreneurs fulfil their dreams. We therefore thought we’d detail how you can apply, offer some top tips and ask a few thought provoking questions. And whether or not you apply to Dragon’s Den you can certainly take on board some of the below and carry it with you.

 

Why Dragon’s Den & How to Apply?

With five venture capitalists willing to invest their own money in exchange for equity, you are given the opportunity to pitch for investment. And whether you get lucky and win a substantial amount of money or not, at the very least you’ll gain a tonne of national TV exposure.

But before you rush off to audition for the show you’ll have to apply using the Dragon’s Den application form.

The application form is a little lengthy so we would suggest that you review the questions before-hand and type up your details in a separate document. This will give you time to prepare your answers before copying across.

You might notice that the form will ask you for BOTH your age and your date of birth. A little odd if you ask us, but there you go, it’s the BBC for you.

So, once you’ve had a read of the application, have a look at our tips below to get the most from your application:

  • Provide Detailed Answers - Whilst not every question on the form requires an answer it is likely that the more detail you can offer the better your chances of being shortlisted.

Note: Follow instructions exactly. When you are asked to outline your idea in one sentence that do just that.

  • Think Carefully about the Executive Summary - This should go without saying, but your executive summary is key to your application and should be considered cautiously.

Ensure that it demonstrates how you, your business, and your product/service help solve other people’s problems.

Keep it concise – aim for 250 words – to keep the interest of the BBC researcher or producer at the other end.

  • The Investment – You will also have to note down how much investment you require financially and in return how much of a share in your company (as a percentage) you are prepared to give away. Make sure that these numbers are precise and not plucked out of thin air. We’ve all see the episodes where the entrepreneurs are caught out.
  • Your Business Plan – The application will ask if you have a business plan. Whilst this isn’t a required field you’d be silly not to include one. Quite simply, without a plan you won’t be seriously considered.
  • Equal Opportunities- As the BBC is “committed to equal opportunities to all” you will be asked to give details on your ethnicity, your sex, and whether you would consider yourself to have a disability.
  • The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth – Don’t be tempted to fib or tell “porkies” on your application. If the researchers don’t catch you out and you end up on the shore, it’s a sure bet that the Dragons will.

What Happens next?

If your application is successful you will be invited to a screen test. If that goes well then you’ll be invited onto the show and present to the Dragons. If you’re successful you’ll want to ensure that you are up on the Rules of the Den as not to jeopardise your investment.

Get Yourself Acquainted with the Dragons

We would also recommend that you acquaint yourselves with the Dragons, their backgrounds, and consider who would be best to invest in your business.

With the departure of Hilary Devey who headed off to Channel 4 for her own series (The Intern) as well as Theo Paphitis in February 2013 due to other business commitments it will be interesting to see how the other Dragons react to the new members on the panel.

If you want to get close to the past and present Dragons, especially the ones that are UK household names, then we recommend you check out their websites and follow them on Twitter:

Peter Jones

Peter Jones, legendary entrepreneur

http://www.peterjones.com/

https://twitter.com/dragonjones

Net worth estimated at £370 million

 

 

Deborah Meaden

Respected Dragon Deborah Meaden

http://www.deborahmeaden.com/

https://twitter.com/DeborahMeaden

Net worth estimated at £40 million

 

 

Duncan Bannatyne

Duncan Bannatyne - The Boss Dragon

http://www.bannatyne.co.uk/about-duncan/

https://twitter.com/DuncanBannatyne

Net worth estimated at £430 million

 

 

Theo Paphitis – note no longer on BBC Dragons Den

Theo Paphitis - Savvy Dragon

http://www.theopaphitis.com/

https://twitter.com/TheoPaphitis

Estimated net worth of £200 million

 

 

James Caan – note no longer on the show

James Caan - Retired from show Dragon

http://www.james-caan.com/

https://twitter.com/jamescaan

Net worth (sourced from Wikipedia at time of writing): £70 million

 

Hilary Devey – note no longer on the Dragons Den show (moved to presenting the Intern on Channel 4)

Hilary Devey - went to Channel 4 Dragon

http://www.hilarydevey.com/

https://twitter.com/HilaryDevey

Estimated net worth believed to be £100 million

 

 

Kelly Hoppin

Kelly Hoppen - yet to be proven Dragon

http://kellyhoppen.com/

https://twitter.com/IMKellyHoppen

By others accounts her company filed profits of only £105,000 last year

 

Piers Linney

Piers Linney - new to the show Dragon

http://pierslinney.com/

https://twitter.com/pierslinney

Worth an Estimated £70 million (net)

Some Common Sense Advice on Pitching to the Dragons

After watching many episodes of the show we detected that a good deal of successful entrants showed a level of “humble confidence”. The more arrogant the person seeking investment for their business behaved, the less inclined the Dragons were to invest.

Most people who fail to win an investment on the show generally pitch poorly in the Den, typically with all the Dragons announcing “I’m out!” So take a look at our common sense pitching tips:

  • Ensure you product is up to scratch or you have a patent
  • You should be achieving credible sales before you even apply
  • Ensure you know the numbers; your revenue, projected sales or profits.
  • Wear appropriate clothing that doesn’t look like you’ve just rolled out of bed

For more advice on pitching, presenting, and business processes The Dragons’ Den Business has these covered – click here to read.

Some questions to consider asking a Dragon who has offered to invest:

If you do find yourself lucky enough to be offered investment in exchange for a share of your company then you should have a few questions up your sleeve to ask the Dragons:

  • What could you bring to the table if I said yes? – Is it faster access to bigger markets, is it business acumen, or is it a greater insight that I don’t have?
  • What experience do you have in investing in this field or would this be a completely new endeavour for you?
  • May I step back to have a private moment to think? Don’t rush to accept a Dragon’s first offer.

If you genuinely know the value of your idea or product and you believe a Dragon senses the same then move to negotiate over the amount to be invested or ask for them to take a lesser share..

Dragons Dens Winners

Instead of listing the actual winners on the Den (such as the legendary Levi Roots’ Reggae Reggae sauce brand now valued at a cool £40 million) it might be more strategic to review which sectors the Dragons tend to invest in more.

So take a look at what we found out below:

It would appear then that Peter, Deborah and Duncan generally invest in companies products or services that they are passionate about themselves. Looking back at Peter's investments it would seem he prefers food based ideas – likely gained after being so successful in investing in Reggae Reggae sauce.

Duncan Bannatyne typically invests in traditional companies such as Commercial Cleaners, an Events Company, a Fancy Dress company and even a Café. So if you own or run one of these types of businesses you might have more luck securing an investment from Duncan.

Reviewing Deborah Meaden's investments, offered in the Den, it would indicate she is interested in companies who are involved in community and health based ideas. Reviewing her performance in previous episodes you may have more luck convincing Deborah to be a co-investor so ensure you have her on-board.

 

Dragons Dens, Harsh but Fair or Somewhat Cruel?

We’re certainly not judging but if you want see a Dragon’s Den contestant suffer the fiery wrath of the Dragons then watch this video. Peter Hopton of Very PC presented his business and ultimately failed to impress the panel enough to secure an investment.

 

The information above should give you a better understanding on how to apply and pitch your business in the Dragon's Den and how to maximise your chances of winning an investment on the show.

If you are successful in getting on Dragons Den we'd love to hear about it. We'd be delighted to feature you so get in touch!

Posted by Paul Randall
21st October 2013