Final Dragon’s Den
As I said in one of my previous posts; Everything we have done since the first day at Kingston University, has been leading up to the final Dragon’s Den on the 17th of March. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of Dragon’s Den, I’ll try to explain;
Dragon’s Den is essentially the name of a popular TV-show on BBC. The show is tailored so that business entrepreneurs can get the chance to pitch their ideas to five venture capitalists or VC’s. If one or more of the venture capitalist see the potential, they can offer to invest in the business in return for equity. Although our Dragon’s Den did not involve the question of investment or equity, it did involve everything else. We had the pleasure of pitching our ComfyEar product and business plan to a panel of judges, who, with their experience, would judge our product, business and presentation skills; Naturally, I felt pretty nervous.
Throughout the year we have been working with our business almost 24/7. If not psychically working with the product, the branding strategy, the finance, the marketing, then at least it has been on our minds 24/7, only interrupted by other modules and their coursework. When you work with a product that closely, you can have a hard time being objective – finding the flaws in your own work, and actually also pinpointing the really good things about your work. I found that I either felt overly confident about the company or the exact opposite – most of the time it was probably the latter. So when preparing for the pitch we went through different stages; we needed to choose which information to convey, we had to write the script for the pitch, we had to decide on clothes that we felt represented us as a unit and as a company. When your mind is on so many minor practical things, you tend to forget the most important one. As David S. Rose said in his talk about pitching to VC’s: “Overall, of all the things that you have to do, what is the single most important thing the VC is going to be investing in? Somebody? What? People!” (Rose, 2007).
We had heard it before in our Mock Dragon’s Den and in the Bright Ideas Competition, but when your mind is preoccupied with details, and getting the information right (mind you, that we had 7 monts of knowledge, that we had to boil down to 6 minutes), you tend to forget that this is the most important thing in pitching your idea to someone. Investors invest in businesses, but first and foremost they invest in people, and people’s integrity and passion.
Of course, the content of the pitch matters as well. It’s not like you can walk up to a VC and only convey passion, commitment and integrity, but if you can’t convey those things, then the life of the business may seem doomed already.
We went in – more ready than ever – to pitch ComfyEar to the judges. We wanted to tell them a story about the product, so we started simply by saying who we were, and what we were going to present to them. We then, by using stills from our advertisement, illustrated the problem, that ComfyEar was going to solve, followed by a 30 second clip of HOW ComfyEar solved the problem. Isn’t it dangerous to show a video clip in the middle of a pitch? Maybe, but it all comes down to HOW you use the clip. In our case, we wanted to make the judges feel entertained, and we also believed, that the visual representation of the solution explained the benefits more clearly and vividly. We had already received some good feedback on the video, and we were met by people at the Kingston Trade Fair, who said that they had seen the video and wanted to visit our stall – then why not use it? (If you wanna have a look, the advert can be streamed here).
We went through most of the points, that David S. Rose explains in his talk (See below for link), but one thing, that we didn’t consider was the value of potential partnerships. We went in there in the Mock Dragon’s Den without preparing who we might partner up with or if there was an obvious B2B potential. David S Rose says: “ I want to know who you’re selling to in terms of customers and if you have any special relationships that will help you, whether it’s a distribution relationship or a producing partner. Again, validation. This helps to say you’re bigger than just one little thing over here.” (Rose, 2007).
We got a good advice the week before at the Mock Dragon’s Den, when one of the judges suggested that we look into airlines and their business class, and we did include it in our final Dragon’s Den as an option, but we didn’t manage to actually get in contact with them, since we only had a week, which would have been very beneficial as a validation of the product.
Overall, I feel really proud of our team, and our efforts and it is definitely a valuable lesson, that I can take with me to any future job. And we all had a very good experience with he final Dragon’s Den. Thanks to the judges for making the experience so pleasant!
For more pointers on what to prepare for, if you’re pitching:
Or this Harvard Business Review article on pitching here
Rose, D. (2017). Transcript of “How to pitch to a VC”. [online] Ted.com. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_s_rose_on_pitching_to_vcs/transcript?language=en#t-46721 [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017].