My Dragons’ Den experience began with an early start as I was being collected from the hotel reception at 06.30. There I met one other, lone, fellow contestant and we travelled to the studio together. I was feeling so nervous, it was good to chat to him about his business and how he was planning to pitch. He was so relaxed compared to me. He even had a nap later in the day, whereas there was no way I was able to do that!
Once there, first step was setting up the products on some shelving I’d brought with me and arranging exactly how I wanted the set to look and to practice my pitch.
There is no second chance at the 3-minute pitch. It must be delivered in one go. And I thought I’d been nervous before!
The crew was lovely, really helpful, and happy to discuss anything or do whatever they could to make things easier. I had the unwelcome experience of feeling incredibly cold whilst sweating profusely for the whole time I was there. My choice of wardrobe was therefore limited to what would best hide the sweat patches!
When you enter the Den, the Dragons genuinely haven’t seen anything about you in advance. When I finally did face the Dragons, I was absolutely terrified. But despite their daunting reputations, I found all of them to be really warm and friendly. That said, they clearly don’t suffer fools and they are all very sharp in terms of business acumen. I felt they were trying to find ways to make an investment work for me if they could.
I’m not sure exactly how long I was in the Den. It was well over an hour. It was a bit of a roller coaster and at various points I thought I was going to be leaving without the backing I so desperately wanted.
When I did finally reach a deal with two of the Dragons, it was obviously a huge relief to me.
I stayed on for a while afterwards to meet up with my investor Dragons for a quick chat. Jenny Campbell came rushing over and gave me a big hug, telling me I really deserved the investment.
My husband came to pick me up afterwards. He didn’t know the outcome, so he arrived with two cards: one for success and one with a ‘What do they know’ message. He held one in each hand and told me which was which, so I could select the right one. He’d brought champagne regardless.
I’d never needed a drink so much. But it was a great day, one I’ll never forget and a real turning point for Buddies.
With very best wishes, Sian