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What firms are most likely to gain investment on Dragons’ Den?

It often pays to know what firms have previously garnered investment before you pitch your business – so if you’re thinking of going on Dragons’ Den, here are a few stats that will make you celebrate… or not.
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Data website firm Company Check took a look at the 187 firms that received investment over 13 series to “show the typical anatomy of a successful pitch“, based on the common traits successful firms shared

Tip number one: Don’t go it alone. The company suggested a duo act was more likely to succeed, and that asking for £50,000 for 40 per cent equity is the best combination to ask for if you want to lure yourself a Dragon. If you were also looking to attract anyone’s attention, you should perhaps try Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden as they are most likely to invest.

And if you’re in the business of food… well, you’ll have no problems at all. Food businesses seem to be the biggest Dragons’ Den winners, with 36 having been offered cash over the 13 series. Some 32 of those are also still active today.

In fact, the most successful business in terms of net worth is Hungry House, which received a £100,000 investment offer from James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne. Today, Company Check revealed, the business has a net worth of £1,800,000.

This wasn’t always the case though – the food sector picked up steam after Richard Farleigh and Peter Jones invested in Reggae Reggae Sauce in series four. “This remains the most successful business in terms of net worth that still has Dragon involvement – with inventor Levi Roots now worth an estimated £30m,” Company Check explained. “And as a percentage of his total investments, Simon Woodroffe OBE, founder of YO! Sushi, was the most prolific food investor, with his only deal in the den being a food company.”

Dev Biswal, head chef and owner of The Ambrette, explained why he thought food businesses are so popular amongst the Dragons. He said: “Food has one of the largest profit margins of all commodities, and packaged foods especially have great returns. This sector is constantly growing and changing – it’s an exciting place to be. It’s also an area that is dictated by trends – if the product is right at the time, the Dragons will strike while the iron is hot!”

Meanwhile, Alastair Campbell, founder of Company Check and recent recipient of a $1,000,000 investment in his new venture Carsnip, suggested that despite changes in the show’s lineup, there are clearly certain types of businesses that are more likely to receive investment than others.

“Of course, the Dragons’ backgrounds play a big part in this, as there will be types of companies and industries in which they have more experience and therefore a greater interest,” he said. “The data shows that tech business investments have not grown over the years, despite the boom in this area.”

As Campbell suggested, if you’re in the tech industry, you may be in for some trouble. Over 14 series, only 18 investments have been tech related – only one of which was a mobile app.

Of this, Neil Westwood, MD of Magic Whiteboard, revealed that the Dragons often invest in products; i.e. things they can buy and sell to make a profit. He said: “This is a familiar model that they understand and works well for them. Apps are different. You need a huge marketing and PR budget to let customers know about your app. Also, most customers want to use for free. You will convert about ten per cent to pay for in app purchases.

“The market is very crowded for apps, and it costs a lot in terms of software development. Also, after you have invested say £100,000 customers might not find the app useful or fun and they won’t download it. You might be lucky and get a Dragon that has a technology business.”

Meanwhile, Real Business asked investors and applicants from BBC’s Dragons’ Den what happened when the cameras weren’t rolling – from applying to be on the show to standing in front of the Dragons.

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

Real Business