The Dragons share their thoughts about how the strength of an idea is the key to unlocking cash in the Den. With a look at eccentric inventor Mark Champkins, from 2007.
Browse content similar to The Idea. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
This is the Dragons' Den. Over the last six years,
nearly 700 entrepreneurs have walked up the stairs looking for investment.
Before them, five of Britain's most successful business brains,
collectively worth a reported £1 billion.
Convincing them to part with their cash isn't easy.
But tonight, they've agreed to share their tips for success.
From the initial idea to the pitch...
-Are you ready for the alternative?
-..from the business plan...
Probably the tidiest patent that I've ever seen.
-..to the negotiation.
-5% each, 10% in total.
These are the business secrets that work outside the Den and within,
revealed by the Dragons themselves and the brave entrepreneurs who've dared to stand before them.
Tonight on How To Win In The Den,
we unlock the Dragons' secrets to money-making ideas.
I never cease to be amazed
at how many new and different, good and bad ideas we get in the Den.
-And this year's no exception.
-From the simplest concept...
So I've invented the WC anti-splash bowl.
..to the most technologically advanced invention...
I am a human cannonball.
..new ideas can change the way we live.
'Ideas come in many different forms.'
It's not just about sitting in the garden shed
honing your Heath Robinson-esque kind of invention.
It starts as a decorative skirt. Then, after Christmas,
it forms the encapsulating sack.
-Have you thought this through?
-Yes, I have.
You think you know the idea's right when it ticks more than one box.
All our products are low in fat and low in calories
and are free from dairy, sugar, soya, cholesterol and nuts.
I always have ideas, but not many are very good.
'You've got to filter it down.' The world's first and only
ride-on suitcases for globe-trotting tots.
Now the Dragons are catching up with their investments...
A bit gimmicky. Yeah, I think people might buy it.
..and revisiting some of the entrepreneurs
-whose ideas failed to impress.
-OK, so 20 sold in minutes.
So, pay attention as the Dragons reveal their tips...
The idea in business is absolutely vital.
-It's very important to have a dream.
-Do the paperwork.
There's nobody can fool yourself better than yourself.
Think outside the box.
..because these five lessons
could inspire a eureka moment that will make you millions.
Ideas are the lifeblood of the Den.
The latest batch of entrepreneurs have had some absolute corkers.
It's a really good breath of fresh air to see entrepreneurs
coming through with new, innovative ideas.
That sound turns any bath into an audible loudspeaker.
So the Dragons' first rule is... just keep 'em coming!
There are people in life who have one brilliant idea. That's it.
They're then done!
And now, we have a spray that will work in any way.
Worth much, much more than people like that, though,
are people who are just very ideas focused.
I invented the toastabag in 1999.
The latest product is our quickachips tray.
Another new product is the shelf guard.
And there's the h2go barrier bag for allotments, gardens.
It's been a while since I've listened to a pitch and thought, "I'm already interested."
So, keeping the ideas coming is key if you want to make money.
The idea in business is absolutely vital.
Truecall stops nuisance phone calls.
It's that first spark that lights the flame, that little light bulb moment.
'Please hang up now and don't call us again.'
You have a vision. All of a sudden, your business starts to evolve.
I sold my last business for five million.
I'm too frightened to carry on. At this rate, you'll have more money than me!
I still come up with ideas every day and my MD'll say to me,
"That's the most ridiculous idea you've ever come up with."
As you can see, this is a typical, dreary garden fence...
And I say, "Ah, but at least I've come up with one!"
..unless you have something like this.
But being a wacky inventor,
with more ideas than you can shake a stick at,
isn't the only way to get ahead in business.
I wouldn't say that you necessarily have to be
the ideas-a-minute person to make money.
It becomes a table store.
But you have to be creative.
"Deborah sat on the bed in the hotel room.
"Theo sat and put his arm around her.
"'Come on, let's get into the hot tub,' she said softly."
Right, stop! LAUGHTER
One ideas-a-minute man
who entered the Den back in 2007 was Mark Champkins.
He came looking for a £100,000 investment
for %15 of his range of school products.
'Mark Champkins, well,'
he was the typical inventor that I would read in books
'and I imagined in books.' What?
My business designs products that help children to concentrate
and be at their best to get the most out of their time at school.
I'm a trained engineer, I studied at Cambridge and at the Royal College of Art.
I've won £45,000 worth of prizes to fund my business.
I've been to China to source manufacture.
I set up the supply chain, set up the website with online sales,
so perhaps I should show you the products.
The first is a schoolbag that makes school chairs more comfortable.
So you hang your bag up over the back of the chair,
and then it folds out this padded area over the back rest and seat
and makes the school chair more comfortable.
The next product encourages children to drink more water.
If you're just 2% dehydrated, your concentration can drop by up to 20%.
And then, this product is the food-for-thought lunchbox.
And then, the final product is a cooler bag,
which keeps it nice and fresh and cool.
I've sold £15,000 worth of products in the last four months
and I'd be interested to use your investment to capitalise
on the sales I've had already and bring a number of new ideas to market as quickly as possible.
'I was selling my ideas going forward,'
so I think that that was
-a sensible way of pitching it.
-Very, very quickly, they saw he was a mad hatter, but he actually had
another side to him as well, which could actually make money.
It was an impressive pitch, but Deborah Meaden
had some concerns about the branding of Mark's inventions.
How appealing do you think this design is to seven- and 11-year-olds?
-How do they get engaged and excited by things?
Something that's new, inventive, something they haven't seen before, that they can show their friends.
Or something their friends have, that they see on TV, that looks pretty.
-That's quite an adult-looking design.
I deliberately design the products to make them kind of plain
and, I thought, kind of classy. But I could see her point.
I think the parents are also...
-They're the ones that part with the money.
-Yeah, but if the child don't like it, it's going to misplace it.
Four of the Dragons couldn't see the money-making potential
in Mark's ideas and declared themselves out in quick succession.
I was feeling it kind of slipping away from me at that point.
Only Peter Jones remained to throw him a lifeline.
I actually really like the seat. I think it's very clever.
I'm really interested and I'm going to make you an offer.
And to be clear that the offer is contingent on you,
I'm willing to take a calculated risk,
-because I think you are going to come up with one or two products that are going to make it.
'I was really pleased when he said he was going to make me an offer,'
but I was kind of bracing myself for a really tough deal.
-I'm going to offer you £100,000.
-In return for?
-In return for 40%.
Peter Jones had lain down the gauntlet, but Mark had other ideas.
-Mark, I'm not going to punt it for 30%.
I'm uncomfortable at 40. 35 I would be comfortable at.
I've gone up from 30.
-Give me the total profit you're going to make in three years.
How about we say, if you make in three years...
..£250,000 profit, I'll give you that 5% back?
-OK. Let's do that.
-Are you going for it?
-Let's do it.
-Thank you. Thank you very much.
Peter always invests in the person rather than the product
and I think, in this case, he did exactly that, because I think
this guy is going to invent a whole lot of wacky ideas
and I'm sure one of them will make him a multimillionaire.
It's now four years since Mark appeared in the Den,
but did he reach the target Peter set?
What we ended up doing was 250 grand for,
as a turnover target rather than a profit target.
And over the last three years, I've managed to hit that target,
so I got my 5% equity back, which is absolutely brilliant, so the deal has worked out well.
Since the Den, this prolific inventor has not only tripled his product range,
but he's also found another creative outlet for his ideas - writing.
In fact, Mark has just had his first book published
about something very close to his heart.
This is a bit of a departure from product design,
but the book itself is all about the bizarre and intriguing inventions
that public figures and celebrities have dreamt up.
You know, Jamie Lee Curtis inventing a nappy, she's in there.
And Charlie Sheen's Chapstick.
It kind of just brings it together. I'm really, really pleased.
And on top of his new writing career,
Mark has another venture in the pipeline.
So I'm now the Science Museum's very first inventor in residence,
which means I can come to the archives
and look in the collection they have and design new products
and really understand what it takes to come up with a world-changing invention.
I think I've done very well with school products,
but what I'm trying to do moving forward is come up with products that have a wider audience.
Today, Mark is meeting up with his Dragon partner...
-What a great place for a meeting.
..to talk about how his new role can benefit their business.
Why would you want to be, for a day a week, inventor in residence?
-I get the kudos.
-But what's the real reason behind it?
Well, to come up with a good idea, you have to have a good problem
and you have to see the steps it takes to get into the market and really make a difference.
Where better to understand how that happens than here?
And the other thing I'm doing for the museum is using their collection of interesting artefacts
-to design products they can sell at retail.
-Who owns the rights?
Me and the Science Museum. But they exploit it,
they manufacture it, they do the kind of licensing side of it
and then we just take a royalty from the initial idea.
-As well as showing the Dragon around his new inspirational office...
-You think Theo would like this?
-Yeah. If he got in it, you wouldn't see him! It's big!
..Mark also wants to get Peter's thoughts on some of his inventions
in the hope that his Dragon will think one of the prototypes could be a worldwide bestseller.
So...there's a few things here. The first thing I want to show you
is inspired by an old-style gramophone.
So it's a sort of £5-£10 price point for kids
who want to amplify their music on their phones.
But you don't have a speaker in here?
No, it's just the way that the trumpet works to amplify the sound, so I can demonstrate.
-If I just put a song on here.
You get a certain amount of noise, but when you put it in the gramophone, it amplifies it.
VOLUME DECREASES, THEN INCREASES
-It does, doesn't it?
-Yeah, it does. It genuinely does.
-Um, I think that's quite clever.
Can you can make from something cheaper, not plastic, so it doesn't kill the environment?
-You use recycled plastic.
-Can you use recycled cardboard?
You could, you could make it out of card, yes.
A bit gimmicky, it looks like a gramophone. Yeah, I think people might buy it.
-One idea approved, on to the next.
-So these are...
levitating cutlery. So the cutlery itself, on your place table mat,
will levitate above the place mat.
-And if you think, in the kitchen,
when mixing or doing something with stuff all over you mixing spoon,
you don't want to put it on a work surface,
-to have it levitate above the work surface and not get it dirty is smart.
-That would freak me out.
Did you spend much time thinking of this idea? LAUGHTER
-A reasonable amount of time.
-You did? I don't want to be too critical, then.
Not all of Mark's ideas are inspiring his business partner.
So, this is a chopping board with a magnetic strip through it.
But Peter still seems encouraged by his innovation.
After all, some of the greatest inventors in history
didn't have their true eureka moment until much later in life.
There's not a killer idea here that's going to make us both a fortune,
but you've come up with some clever ideas that will make money.
But it was interesting, just you and I sparking off each other, thinking, "Oh, right!"
You even got me thinking about ideas and different things, which is interesting.
Next year, Mark is predicting a turnover of £175,000.
But at the moment, all of the company's profits
are being put back into the business to develop ideas for new products.
But far from being disheartened, Peter knows that it's his job
to nurture Mark's creative brain into thinking commercially.
Mark's a real ideas man.
I just want him to think even more now
about what is the next thing, what will people want to buy?
I think he has to fill that void between thinking of an idea
and actually, "Would I buy it"?
If I think it's great that Peter's on board,
and it really encourages me that he is by my side
and coming up with the business perspective on my ideas
and really helping me to see what's going to work and what's not.
I think we'll make a decent amount of money, and who knows,
surrounded by all these inventions we might come up with the next big thing.
Only a handful of entrepreneurs can convince the Dragons
that their idea is good enough for investment.
But for those lucky few,
it's like all their Christmases have come at once.
I'm just so, so pleased. It's a dream come true.
So, the Dragons' next lesson is - don't forget to dream.
Entrepreneurs tend by their nature to be very optimistic.
-It's the girl of my dreams, my very own Deborah Meaden!
They tend to wear good-news goggles
and to view the entire world through the best of all possible scenarios.
You are looking at things with rose-coloured glasses on.
And in business, while that's great, you've also got to be realistic.
If you can see it from an external point of view,
you're more likely to avoid mistakes.
You need enough space behind this wall now, so it's irrelevant.
Utterly pointless, David. It is utterly pointless.
You'd never get a shower and toilet into this area,
this is 1.2 diameter.
But you need the space to start with.
But some of the most successful entrepreneurs
would never have got where they are today without that initial dream.
I think it's really vital to dream. I'm a boy, and I love cars.
So it's just it's my little dream, really.
I was always the one at school that was being shouted at by the teachers saying,
"Your head's in the clouds, Jones! What are you doing?
I love it!
How the hell do you get in this?
If you've got a dream and you can see how things can happen,
all of a sudden, your whole business idea starts to come to life.
But dreaming that dream isn't a recipe for guaranteed success in the Den.
There's a fine line between being a dreamer
and being a successful entrepreneur.
I've come here seeking £100,000 to save the Spanish pig.
It's very important to know the difference
between dream and reality.
We believe that we could quite easily sell 400,000 of these
in our second year.
And giving yourself that all-important reality check
often means facing up to the fact that your idea
will probably never take off.
-Have you had any sales yet?
-No, we haven't sold any yet.
-Have you got a website yet?
-Have the books been published yet?
-Have the DVDs been done yet?
-No, no, no.
-But the company has been registered?
-No, we haven't even started the company yet.
One woman who the Dragons thought might have
her head in the clouds was Marneta Viegas.
She entered the Den back in 2005 looking for a £100,000 investment
for 20% of her children's meditation business.
There was a girl called Marneta Viegas
who had a dream to teach children to relax.
So she made a wish upon a star and rubbed her magic lamp
and set up Relax Kids.
And as her pitch went on, Marneta's dream of a business idea
became even less attractive to the Dragons.
I didn't set up Relax Kids to make a whole heap of money.
I would like to put on a West End stage show with all the money I get.
It gets worse.
I don't know an investor in the world who would give you their cash
if you tell them that you're not looking to make any money.
-In spite of the Dragon's warming to Marneta...
-I think you're lovely.
-..none of them wanted to buy a share of her business dream.
I'm not going to invest in you.
Six years on, and Marneta's products are selling well.
So, that's really good. I really like... Now you've done that.
And with her meditation exercises now been introduced into schools,
she says she's turned over £240,000 in the last 12 months.
Taken nice deep breath in through our nose,
and slowly out through our mouth.
But even though her business has grown,
Marneta's dream remains the same.
I'm able earn a living, and then all the people who work for me
and all my coaches can earn a living,
but we're giving back at the same time as earning a living.
Stretch them up, up, up!
Which just goes to prove that everyone's aspirations are different,
even when it comes to business.
It's not about making lots of money. My business is about relaxing.
And I don't think the Dragons would understand that.
They would laugh again, wouldn't they?
The Dragons sit through hours of pitches every day.
So in order to prove that their business idea
is worthy of investment,
entrepreneurs often like to get it in writing.
I've got letters from the Queen, from the Prince of Wales.
So the Dragons' next lesson is - make sure you've done your homework.
It's absolutely crucial,
if you're going to have a really profitable business,
that other people can't compete with you head-on.
What happens if this is a rip-roaring success
and all the pet shops will say, "We'll do our own"?
Well, they might do. I can't stop them.
If they can just copy your product
and you have lots of people copying it and competing with you, you won't make money.
You can't possibly have anything that prevents anyone else
selling the same thing.
-It's a piece of cloth.
If you have got a good product, then yes, get it patented.
Are you saying that you've got a patent and international rights to stop anybody else
-putting a line down the middle of a bed?
But don't assume that just because you've done the paperwork
for your idea, the Dragons will be satisfied.
We get a lot of people who come into the Den with patents.
-I have a patent pending.
-I secured a patent for this in 2005.
-We've patent pending at present.
-Sometimes people get very confused.
-You can't possibly have a patent.
-I absolutely have.
-The patent is for the concept. That's the patent.
-No, it isn't. Let me see it.
The patent is only worth something if it can help you own
that particular market.
Nowhere does it say that you have a patent to be the only person
with a container that you can put frozen food into outside a house.
I'm sorry, Duncan, that concept is patented.
And there's one Dragon who is particularly picky about her patents.
-Who owns the rights to the design of this?
I actually filed a patent and that's pending.
-And how long ago did you file that application?
-I filed it last week.
Do you or do you not own the technology?
We have a five-year licence to use the technology.
And how sure are you that that does not infringe the original patent?
That's a very good question.
And she's not just a stickler for patents,
because when it comes to paperwork, nothing gets past Deborah Meaden.
You've got e-mails here to prove somebody wants to order 100,000 of these.
-I think we ought to see those e-mails.
They said they want so and so many, and they want to test it first.
That's a little bit different, isn't it?
Do the paperwork.
Two women who had done the paperwork for their idea
were cousins Lisa Marshall and Shelene Mitchell.
They entered the Den at last year looking for a £50,000 investment
for a 15% share in their stackable outdoor plant container.
-My name's Lisa.
-And I'm Shelene, and we're from Blooming High.
Originally, our product idea came from...
I went round to visit Shelene
and she had got an outstanding display in her garden
and I asked her where I could get one from, and she said, "I made it myself."
I said to her, "It would be a good idea,
"I think it's a good idea
"and it's got potential to commercialise it."
And here we are today.
They was what I'd call down-to-earth ladies.
They weren't on their high pram, looking down their nose at you.
They were just natural, homely, loving girls.
I don't think people expected them to really know what they were doing.
As well as demonstrating the product,
the duo explained its unique selling point.
It has an internal watering tube that fits together.
It has a patent on it at the moment and a trademark as well.
It's got a UK granted patent for what?
For the way it's watered through this watering tube.
No-one's come up with the idea before.
-Have you got the patent here?
Could I ask somebody to look at it?
They were going on about the patent and I thought to myself,
"Here we go. Just like me, here.
"This is where they'll come unstuck."
But after examining the pair's paperwork,
Deborah Meaden gave her verdict.
I was expecting to look at this and think,
"They've probably got an application in
"and they're not quite sure where they are in the process".
Actually what I've got is probably the tidiest patent I've ever seen in the Den.
Having Deborah say our patent was the tidiest patent
that had been through the Den was a boost.
It was a good achievement.
So once they had shown it was a really good patent,
it suddenly meant they were being taken much, much more seriously.
But paperwork perfectionist Deborah still wasn't satisfied.
The question to me is, how important is it that you've patented it?
So what I would like to understand is why that is so good.
We tested this tube over a period of five years, so this tube is unique.
The duo may have protected their invention,
but after hearing their poor sales figures...
We have sold, at the moment, just under 700.
..Duncan Bannatyne decided they needed a lesson
in how to promote their idea.
Let's do it. Let's do it.
Phone me now.
Hello. My name's Lisa and I'm from a company called Blooming High.
We have a new product out on the market
that we think you could be interested in.
Is that it?
We're not from sales backgrounds and we do realise...
That's why you need to sit down.
Not, "I am the Lisa from a company called Blooming High."
"Hi, it's Lisa from Blooming High here.
"The most fantastic product ever patented for the garden centre, you need it".
Duncan had to give them a bit of a lesson on how to make a phone call.
What Duncan did was really good and I hope that they did listen to him.
Despite giving the pair a lesson in cold-calling,
Duncan Bannatyne decided he couldn't invest
and three other Dragons also dropped out.
But would the likeable duo's watertight paperwork
be enough to convince Deborah Meaden to part with her cash?
Often people stand in front of us and we say, "Don't do it, stop it. You're wasting your time".
I'm going to say the reverse here.
Carry on. Half of this is you thinking, "We can't.
"We're not sales people". Of course you can.
Get it in front of the right people. Tell them why they need it. You'll sell it.
But I don't think there's enough for an outside investor. So I'm out.
JAMES: Take care, bye.
Birthday cake, but no candles.
A year on and Shelene and Lisa's business
is growing at a steady rate.
The cousins have taken delivery of their latest shipment of products,
complete with their newly redesigned packaging.
Look at that!
Looks more like green for gardening.
The fact that we didn't get an investment did make us work
a little bit harder because straight after we came out of the Den,
my first port of call was to put in some phone calls to people.
It drove me to go knocking on the doors and to persist, really.
It makes you go all the more determined to prove them wrong.
That's it. All done.
Shelene and Lisa are still selling their stackable plant container
in local garden centres, but on the Dragons' advice
they now also sell through their own website
and have managed to get their product
in the online store of one of the UK's biggest supermarkets.
And their business expansion plans don't stop there.
To get it out of the UK was one of the roads
that we were looking down as well
and that's in the pipeline at the moment.
Gone out to Switzerland already. We're negotiating with Japan at the moment.
Today the pair are at a well-known shopping channel to promote their latest idea -
a watering system for hanging baskets.
And Dragon Deborah Meaden has come down to watch
these fully-fledged business women in action.
I'm here to catch up with Lisa and Shelene from the Blooming High.
Last time I saw them was in the Den.
We were all very impressed with them.
I was really impressed with their patent and paperwork.
But we were concerned how far the business could go
so today I get to find out, were we right or were we wrong?
Good afternoon to you. Now I did promise you a very special garden bargain.
They don't come much more innovative
than coming straight from the Dragons' Den.
The duo say that last year's turnover was just over £146,000
with a profit of nearly £54,000.
There they are.
Looking very calm and relaxed.
And with their growing product range,
they expect next year's figures to rocket.
100% of the call-centre consultants are now on the phones
taking your orders.
I remember us saying in the Den that the shopping channels would be
a very good route and here they are, they've taken that advice
and sure enough, they're selling product through it.
So 20 sold in minutes.
Lisa and Shelene haven't seen Deborah since the Den.
With just a short break before they're due back on set, the ladies get down to business.
So, how's it going?
Yeah, it's going all right.
It's getting there. Obviously, we've sold a lot more.
We sold out once.
We totally sold out, yeah.
We've changed the packaging and gone for a more greeney garden,
than white and pictures because a few people suggested
-that the white may get dirty a little bit quicker.
We've also got the booklet, instruction leaflet...
is now multilingual because it's gone out to Switzerland
and we've got strong interest at the moment from Japan.
Oh, right. Hold on, we've done England
and now we're taking of the world.
The business sounds like it's going from strength to strength.
But in spite of their tidy patent,
Lisa and Shelene are still worried about their growing competition
from other manufacturers.
This is their chance to ask advice from the experienced business woman.
There are people out there that are trying to do it
but we're not quite sure what we should do about that.
The first thing you need to know is whether they infringe your patent
because it was quite specific.
The next thing is, are they selling lots of them?
You need to know how much of YOUR market they are taking
because honestly the last thing I ever want to go to is litigation,
but if you've got good patent and they are infringing it
then you need to tell them and they need to stop.
Lisa and Shelene's new product launch was a great success.
They sold all of their stock
and their appearance on this shopping channel also
helped them to sell out of their original stackable plant container.
Plus, they've now signed with a Japanese distributor
and are currently preparing to ship their first 10,000 units to Japan.
We got the best result you can get from the Den.
Because we didn't lose any of the company
and we got appraisal for our product.
These two are an absolute prime example...
They stood in front of us in the Den,
they listened to everything
and they have taken exactly the steps we were talking about.
That's the point of the Den. It's not just about investments.
It's the stuff you can learn from it.
This is the Dragons' guide to money-making ideas.
Five simple lessons that could inspire
a very lucrative light bulb moment of your own.
When entrepreneurs come up with new ideas to showcase in the Den...
..they always try to make them seem as innovative as possible.
It is very difficult to make something from scratch
so we really have to think outside the box quite a bit.
So the Dragons' next lesson is TOTB.
The world needs people who can frame that the problem in a different way
and consequently have come up with a different way of resolving it.
Easy Over will turn over a fried egg without the need of splashing
hot oil on to the top of the egg,
reducing the risk of potential pan fires and burns.
I think it's always better in business
if there is something unique about your own business model.
And if you do have an out of the box idea,
it can pay dividends in the den.
Very rarely do we see brand new ideas in the Den.
YoodooDoll is the first ever make your own doll.
Every now and then, you get something you've never thought of.
I like it and it's fun.
So I am going to make you an offer.
And out of the box ideas aren't just for the entrepreneurs.
The Dragons have their moments too.
I like thinking out of the box I like to be a little bit edgy.
is to buy that. Have we got a deal?
Yes, we've got a deal.
I would say the majority of entrepreneurs are out of the box thinkers.
That's the first time I've bought a house without looking round.
-Hello! Do you want to come and play?
We're pragmatic and we're realistic but at the same time,
we're always thinking outside of the box.
One out of the box thinker who entered the Den in 2009 was inventor Rupert Sweet-Escott.
He came looking for an £80,000 investment for 10%
of his aviation and renewable energy business ideas.
What I'm offering is pedal-powered enhancement of performance.
So basically you can take off from flat ground
using a compressed air motor
or electric motor
and recharge your batteries in flight.
Or you can just improve your glide which is for the purists.
Doesn't it make you proud to be British? Your classic mad inventor.
My good friend here Dominic
will now demonstrate how the system works.
You had to sort of think, I just love this guy.
I have another product
and that is a wind turbine that looks like a chimney pot.
The cleverness of Rupert's variety of ideas
piqued the interest of former Dragon James Cann.
-How much have you ever made in one year? What's the maximum?
And they closed a deal for 49% of Rupert's company.
Having shaken hands on an agreement in principle in the Den,
the deal didn't get through the due diligence process outside it.
My uncle Richard told me once,
"There's only one ship that doesn't float. A partnership."
Some people are born to work alone. I think I'm one of them.
In the end, Rupert self-financed his company with proceeds from a foreign property sale,
and to date, has sold 12 air bikes.
But his big success has been his wind turbine chimney pot idea.
Hi! How's it going then? Haven't you finished yet?
Sales are incredible.
95% of them are export, mainly in Japan
and I hope to do very well in the UK too.
What do you reckon, two more days on this site?
Rupert tells us he's sold nearly 400 wind turbines
and has a current turnover of £270,000.
So it seems the Dragons are right.
Out of the box is a very lucrative way of thinking.
Hold on, hold on.
We know how much the Dragons love to disagree about money-making ideas.
I disagree with Duncan. I think this is a fantastic idea.
I say it's a great idea,
you say, "I disagree with Duncan. It's a great idea."
One Dragon believes strongly that thinking outside the box can lead you down the road to disaster.
Thing about thinking outside the box, it's just been overdone.
I think it's absolutely crazy.
Be realistic. Think about how you can improve on our business,
how you can make it work better.
Put one end through the other, pull it tight, cut the end off.
Now you can use that bit again.
Think inside the box. Simple.
Two entrepreneurs who didn't try to re-invent the wheel
were husband and wife team Neil and Laura Westwood.
They entered the Den back in 2008 looking for £100,000 investment
for 15% of their self-adhesive
portable white board distribution business.
We have secured the sole and exclusive distribution
and selling rights in the UK and Ireland.
We also have the option of expanding that
to other worldwide territories subject to negotiation.
Sometimes your idea doesn't have to be your own.
It doesn't have to be completely original.
Often you can have a good observation
of what may be working well in another market.
The product itself is currently selling over 200,000 rolls in Japan.
To make money you don't have to necessarily invent the product
but you have to spot an opportunity.
With offers from four of the Dragons,
Neil and Laura made a joint deal with retail giant Theo Paphitis
and marketing expert Deborah Meaden for 40% of their business.
Three years on, the couple have reportedly sold 50,000 white boards.
Today they're meeting with one half of their Dragon duo...
Hello. Did you find it OK?
..to celebrate their ongoing success.
You came into the Den without an invention.
You found a product you thought was useful
-and thought you could sell it.
And we've marketed it well, created the brand,
and we've added more products to the range now as well.
Where do we go from here?
We're already exporting to Australia.
There's over four pallets already gone there the last couple of months.
The first container has gone over to America.
It's really exciting at the moment.
With a reported profit for this year of just over £455,000,
it looks like Neil and Laura's inside the box idea could make them the next Dragons' Den millionaires.
Before the Den we were making £45,000.
In those three years we've sold almost £2 million worth of products.
Those turnover figures are fantastic.
Doesn't get much better than that, does it?
Every entrepreneur needs to have confidence in their product.
I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't knowing this was a unique idea.
But where do you draw the line between self belief
and knowing when to give up?
It's not going to make you a lot of profit, love.
For that reason, I'm out.
So the Dragons' final lesson is:
Don't kid yourself.
A mistake people make is to come up with ideas
that fundamentally don't solve any problem.
Problem: Seized union nuts. Solution: Bag clamps.
Because there was no problem there to be solved.
Problem: Seized union nuts. Solution: Pump off.
The best thing to do is work out, does anyone actually need this?
If I didn't invent it would anybody miss it?
In 200-300 years, nobody has invented your gizmo?
-Because it hasn't been a problem.
But being your own worst critic means taking a good, long, hard look in the mirror.
Nobody can fool yourself better than yourself.
The first thing you will notice is how quiet it is.
Second thing I notice is my hands aren't feeling terribly dry.
Every successful entrepreneur I know is capable of saying,
"I got that wrong."
It's not something you should give up your day jobs for.
We actually did quit our day job to do this full-time.
Make sure you ask yourself the question,
"Am I being honest with myself?" If you are being honest,
continue down the path of your dreams.
If this idea was genuinely as exciting as you are presenting,
somebody out there would have approached you with a proposition.
-If you are not, cut it there and then.
I think it's a matter of persistence
and I think it will be on a shelf near you soon.
The Dragons are not known for keeping their opinions to themselves.
So if they don't like your idea, best beware.
We've seen some pretty tragic examples of some most ludicrous ideas.
Anti-wrinkle hat, you stretch the facial muscle and it will
not allow a new wrinkle to develop.
The most ridiculous ideas.
We have designed and manufactured an edible greetings card for dogs.
It never ceases to amaze me.
Put your glove on your right hand.
This would remind you to stay on the right-hand side of the road.
Something tells me this isn't going to work. I don't know why(!)
Somebody needs to tell them it is never ever going to come to fruition.
If I turned up to a beach with my suitcase and unwrapped that, do you know the looks I'd get?
Stop it now.
One man who had an unshakeable belief in his business idea was Derek Couzens.
He entered the Den last year looking for a £50,000 investment
for 10% of his traffic-signal safety light concept.
This is a no-entry sign.
Everybody knows what they mean, but some people manage to miss them.
That's no big deal if it's just the slip road to the shops,
but when it's the slip road to the M4, it's a whole different scenario.
Look at them face on, they're fine, but there are very few junctions where you see them face on.
You see the side-on view, which can be extremely limiting.
So we fit a flow signal.
It's red in colour, it's mimicking the traffic that's coming towards you.
It's visible for 180 degrees. It's visible in heavy rain and fog.
Turn away, and you'll see this in your peripheral vision.
I still can't work out exactly what that idea was about.
And, unfortunately for Derek,
confusion about his idea was catching.
I don't even know... I'm not even sure I know what it is.
But what I do see is a flow-flashing light on a sign.
Having gone through my repertoire,
I couldn't understand which part Peter hadn't got.
Does it cost you a lot of money to do?
About £24,000, so far.
On a flashing light on a...
on a pole?
-Could one of the other Dragons please interrupt me?
-Oh, um, hello, Derek.
-Derek, have you had this approved?
-No. The lady who runs the signs and signals doesn't like the idea.
She doesn't like the idea?
Will another Dragon please interrupt me?!
If the person who is going to potentially buy this product
has already told you they hate it, maybe you should get the hint.
The Dragons had heard enough from Derek
and it was time for Peter Jones to show his hand.
Do not spend one more pound trying to push this into the marketplace.
This is ridiculous. And, for that reason, I'm out.
-Has anybody told you they think this is a good idea?
-Any chief constables?
-Anybody who can actually have any influence at all...
..on their ever, ever being used or sold?
-Can I explain a little bit more?
-Yes or no. Give me some names.
-No, I haven't got any names.
-So the answer is nobody.
-The answer is nobody.
-So, I am pleading with you not to do it.
I was bemused when Deborah said give up, don't waste your life on it.
I was trying to save lives!
-Can I finish telling you about the traffic light incident?
-No, no, you can't.
You can them, but you can't tell me because I'm not at all interested. I'm out.
Sadly for Derek, James Caan and Theo Paphitis soon followed suit
but the intrepid entrepreneur remained undeterred.
-OK. Would you listen to me, Duncan, for five minutes?
-I'll listen to you.
When Duncan threw me a lifeline, I thought he would take me seriously.
I thought he was actually going to listen. That I was going to find someone I could take on who would
find the capital to make this thing happen.
When you're in a car park, looking for the exit sign,
the one thing you've got is that your eyes, you're looking for that arrow sign.
And, if you have it going red... What happens is when the arrows are covered in snow...
Derek, I said I'd listen to you because
I didn't want to be impolite. Is there much more?
I haven't really finished explaining about
the traffic light problem.
You win the worst invention ever to be brought to Dragons' Den
and Derrick, I'm out.
Although all five Dragons declared themselves out,
Derrick just wouldn't give up.
Going from the left-hand side, you look at the no-entry signs
and see how easy it is to miss them.
-Derrick, thank you.
-Derrick, that way. Down there.
There's a sign there - that way.
A year on and Derrick's belief in his idea
is still so strong that he's spent another £6,000 on development.
He's also proposed new road safety legislation to the government
although, to date, he's not received a response.
After I left the Den I was more determined than ever to carry on.
I'm a bit of a lone ranger, here, trying to bring about change,
promoting this cause but I'm not giving up.
Today, Derrick is meeting with
Director of the RAC Professor Stephen Glaister
to see whether he can persuade him to back his road safety idea.
To demonstrate to you how it operates,
you'll see that when the person coming the other way's got a green,
you have this pattern of light flowing from top to bottom.
It's effectively mimicking the traffic coming towards you.
As soon as it finishes, it goes red, you'll see the stop,
so you know you can complete the turn safely.
What's your opinion? Do you think a product of this type could be viable
for adoption on the United Kingdom roads?
I think there's great potential in projects like this.
I can't say whether this would be adopted on a large scale.
I think it's a possibility, but more research would have to be
done to see how it actually works in practice because you can't predict,
without doing experimental work, how people will behave.
But it is the simple inventions which get through
which make a lot of money.
After all, when the traffic light was invented I'm sure
there were people saying, "Well, it's just a light on a stick."
I'm pleased that you can see the benefit of what I'm trying to achieve
and you realise that there is a problem out there that does need to be solved.
Derrick may not have achieved a sale but his persistence
is admirable and at least someone now understands his idea.
What Derrick has done is to identify something that's happening
over and over again.
Whether his particular solution will prove to work in the field
remains to be seen, but I think it deserves to be taken seriously.
I think today went really well. Who knows?
Flow signals may well have a bright future
and I will prove Duncan Bannatyne wrong.
We've learned that money-making ideas come from keeping them comic.
The first of the products is a school bag that makes school chairs more comfortable.
Protecting your idea.
Probably the tidiest patent that I've ever seen in the Den.
Thinking outside or inside the box and being your own worst critic.
Have you had this approved?
But which one could claim to be the best Den idea?
Well, some of the ideas have gone on to make millions,
there's one that stands out as really ticking all the boxes
and what's even more surprising, is that the Dragons didn't spot it.
My name is Shaun P and I'm here with my business Tangle Teezer Limited.
Shaun's pitch was not the most successful
but through it all you could see a product that did actually work.
Tangled, knotted hair drives hairdressers insane
and children reduced to tears.
When Shaun came in front of us he made a really bad pitch
but it was actually a really good idea and we should have seen that.
But it was hard for the Dragons to see any merit in Shaun's idea
after one of the scariest demonstrations the Den has ever seen.
Any hairdresser will tell you if you can detangle that doll hair
you can detangle anything.
He was there with that comb and it was so graceful like he was
perhaps doing Kate Middleton's hair
on the morning she was getting married
and then it was "Here comes Norman Bates - Psycho."
HE MIMICS "PSYCHO" THEME
I wouldn't have allowed him to try that on my dreadlocks.
And the chances of Shaun's ideas shining through his bad pitch
went from bad to worse.
-You're obviously a hairdresser.
-I don't blow-dry, cut or style, I just colour.
-You just colour?
-Sorry, sorry - could we just get back on that?
And obviously Deborah was very au natural,
that didn't do him a favour.
I colour, yes, like Deborah's highlights.
You clearly don't because this doesn't have any colour on this.
Well, I beg your pardon.
You do not accuse a Dragon of colouring their hair on national TV.
I think after that, I think it was a little downhill.
How many of these have you put into the market for testing?
There must be 300, 350 floating around.
What's the stats and the feedback?
The feedback that I've had from that, 20.
Shaun's lack of market research meant there was no proof
his idea would make any money and none of the Dragons chose to invest.
If you'd come here and said, "I've spoken to three distributors,
"they'll all take it, they know the industry, they know the salons,"
done, done deal.
You didn't do it and for those reasons I, too, am out.
Well, Theo, I thank you and that's exactly what I'm going to do
when I leave here.
Had I been in the Den then I would have invested
cos I could see a market cos I've got hair that tangles.
Even though his Den pitch wasn't successful,
Shaun still believed strongly in his idea.
I took Theo's advice, I did the trade show
and then after that it just all went ballistic.
Beauty editors coming on board.
-Good to see you.
-It's been ages.
Major high-street retailers approaching me,
major distributors coming at me, everything started coming.
Four years on, his range of products continues to grow.
And business is absolutely booming.
Today we have sold over 1.6 million Tangle Teezers.
If the Dragons had've invested that investment would have been
returned in the second year and in the fourth year,
they'd have been making some money.
In fact, the company has reportedly turned over £2.3 million
making a profit of over 500,000 this year
and Shaun says his UK Patent has now been granted and his business
has gone global with 61% of sales coming from the worldwide market.
Business is as much an art as a science.
The Dragons are not fortune tellers, they're not going to get them all.
My children have Tangle Teezer brushes in their bathrooms and they show them to me.
All of my daughters have now got his product, so boy, did we get that wrong.
It's not unrealistic in five years' time for this business to be
turning over 20 million.
If there's one that got away, maybe it's that one.
Next time - the Dragons examine the key elements needed for a successful business plan.
Investors expect your figures to be right.
And catch up with some of the entrepreneurs whose business plans
were the make-or-break ingredient of their Den experience.
I've put in...1,300,000.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
How To Win In The Den casts an analytical eye over the highs and lows experienced by the hundreds of brave entrepreneurs who have dared to enter the Den over the last nine series, packed with tips and advice so that even the least entrepreneurial amongst us can benefit from the advice.
This week, the Dragons share their thoughts about how the strength of an idea is the key to unlocking their cash in the Den.
Back in 2007, eccentric inventor Mark Champkins was looking for investment in his range of school products and ended up giving Peter Jones 40 percent of all his future ideas. But has the entrepreneur delivered on the Dragon's investment?
Cousins Lisa Marshall and Shelene Mitchell were two of the most unlikely entrepreneurs the Den has seen, but they surprised the Dragons with a water-tight patent for their stackable outdoor plant container. Deborah Meaden finds out how the likable pair are doing a year on without a Dragon's investment.
And when Hairdresser Shaun Pulfrey demonstrated his hair-detangling brush, the Dragons were unimpressed and declined to invest, but little did anyone know that Shaun's idea would go on to become a global brand. Five years on, just how successful has Shaun really become? Plus, we catch up with traffic enthusiast Derek Cousins whose idea to put flashing lights on street signs is a strong contender for one of the worst the Den has ever seen. The Dragons advised him to give up, but did Derek listen?