In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, 40-year-old Wright says that the £80,000 was, in fact, a loan – and she received no support from the Dragons. “I was stunned. This is not what I had seen on TV. Viewers are given the impression that the money the Dragons provide is to buy equity in the business,” says the founder of Talpa Products. “I didn’t receive the monies that I expected, I didn’t receive the support I needed and, more importantly, they were charging me for their services.”
A few weeks after filming, Wright says she received two “pre-contracts” from the Dragons pledging £40,000 each, which she duly signed. When the money still hadn’t materialised months later, alarm bells started to ring – so she had the contracts examined by a lawyer. They stipulated that the £80,000 loan had to be paid back “as soon as the cashflow of the company permits”. According to The Mail, the contracts also stipulated that the two Dragons could charge a fee for their support. The Dragons would be chairmen of the company and would have the casting vote in all decisions, meaning Wright had effectively lost control of the business.
Bannatyne claims the story is inaccurate. He says that the contract shows clearly that the share equity was not a loan (he’s posted a copy of it here) and that it didn’t allow him to charge a fee.
We’re in touch with him and are trying to bring you his side of the story. We’ll keep you posted.
Either way, it’s not a pretty portrayal of what goes on behind the scenes of the show.
What kind of experience have you had on Dragons’ Den? Tell us below.
Update: Since we posted this story, we’ve had a flood of emails, tweets and calls. Just to clear up a few points, this story is a summary of a news story published in the Mail on Sunday about an entrepreneur who was left disappointed by her Dragons’ Den experience. As a magazine and website devoted to entrepreneurs (many of whom would want to appear on the programme), we reckoned our readers would be interested to see it. They were. Duncan Bannatyne subsequently contacted us to point out what he said were factual inaccuracies within the MoS’s story. We immediately addressed his concerns and invited him to comment. We’re not taking sides here and we’re certainly not anti-Dragon – there’s plenty more stories about the show and Duncan Bannatyne on our website.There is a serious moral to this story, brought out in Sharon Wright’s experiences and in Duncan’s response: always, always, read the fine print. A lesson for all entrepreneurs.17 August: James Caan has just issued a statement with his take of the story. It claims: “The due diligence process carried out by Duncan and James’ teams revealed the business did not have the order for one million units that she [Sharon Wright] had mentioned in the Den, and there were monthly outgoings that the business could not sustain.”
The drama continues…
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