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Meet the most entertaining entrepreneur to visit Dragons’ Den

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LINGsCARS</a > has one of the most surreal websites you’ll ever see. So it was no surprise then that the car leasing company’s owner went on Dragons’ Den for the publicity she ended up being one of the most memorable entrepreneurs on the show</a >. Seven years on we find out why.</p >

What’s the idea behind the company and why did you decide to launch the business? </em ></p >

I decided to launch LINGsCARS because at the time no other company had a good online offering, their websites were rubbish. I knew I could do far better and my website has won many awards since I started it. It’s the best in the UK, possibly the world.</p >

How do you differentiate yourself in the market? </em ></p >

I differentiate by service. My service is far better than anyone else’s, I run a pure web business, I treat customers personally and develop an emotional bond. I reply to any questions within a couple of minutes. No one else can do that. </p >

I relentlessly monitor web visitors. On average every visitor is worth 50p, so I treat them like gold. Again, no one else does that with their website, 99 per cent of businesses have static, dead, boring, unresponsive websites. Mine can be magical.</p >

Can you tell me about your experience on Dragons’ Den? </em ></p >

I enjoyed Dragons’ Den immensely, it was easy to pitch my business and [Duncan] Bannatyne and [Richard] Farleigh offered investment. I turned it down, but in the process created mayhem. It was easy to project on TV, I was offering a proven profitable business and have since increased my turnover multiple times. It all went to plan, Bannatyne was provoked, [Deborah] Meaden was miserable, I poked fun at Peter Jones and [Theo] Paphitis went crazy at my response to accounting questions. </p >

It simply has to be entertaining and I managed that. I bought an old military Chinese truck, placed a giant missile on it, parked it by the A1 and used that as my centrepiece on TV. I pitched low, so I would get offers. It worked. When Bannatyne did a 15 minute “follow-up” I bought a small tank and painted German crosses on it and wore a Nazi helmet, then offered him a lift. He refused, of course, as planned, and it made great TV. I also engineered an argument with him. Viewers want jeopardy and controversy, not luvvy-duvvy banal rubbish.</p >

Why did you turn down the offer of funding? </em ></p >

Dragon’s Den was purely a publicity vehicle for me. I didn’t want any investment so I turned Bannatyne and Farleigh down, several times. I wanted ten minutes on prime time TV. Getting 10 minutes on the BBC is priceless, if it was for sale it would cost millions. It is called “pitch and run”.</p >

What’s happened since you appeared on the show? Have you sought additional investment elsewhere? </em ></p >

I haven’t had any investment, ever. I have never encouraged any third party to invest in my business, as they always want a greedy share of my ownership. This means I am fully independent, have no debts, have no one calling the shots and can do what I want. It’s a pretty good position to be in.</p >

How useful was the publicity the show generated and how were you able to leverage that coverage? </em ></p >

Dragons’ Den provided massive publicity. Even today, I get dozens of website visitors every day who search Dragons’ Den in Google. It gives me immense credibility, as most people feel what happens on TV is real and it gives visitors the confidence they need to commit to leasing a new car from LINGsCARS. No one else in my industry has this advantage. </p >

My YouTube account has had over half a million views, many of them resulting from Dragons’ Den searches and replays of my pitch. Even people who are not customers post and blog about it. Every web link is worth a fortune and I get loads of those.</p >

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking for funding and would you recommend the Den? </em ></p >

I have no idea about funding, but I would say think carefully before you give away shareholding, instead use techniques that don’t require massive funding. I see so many “successful” business that are nothing of the kind – when I search their accounts they lose money or have massive debts. Who wants to grow under those circumstances?  </p >

Read more about Dragons’ Den:</em ></p >

  • Dragons Den Mo Bro’s
  • How to use Dragons’ Den to keep your staff on board</a ></li >
  • The anti-entrepreneur show</a ></li >
  • Here’s how to win Dragon backing</a ></li ></ul >

    What’s next for the business and how are you investing in its future?</em > </p >

    Gross profit is approaching £1m per annum and, hopefully, I will exceed that in 2015.</p >

    I invest my own money heavily. My latest venture is to create an absolutely “live” service online, no one else has that. To do this I have bought 50″ TVs to put behind my staff and webcams pointing at them from the computer monitors. Then when they type to customers key words make images pop up on the TV, which the customer can see on the webcam. This is true interaction, talk about a Fiesta and see a Fiesta. Be rude and talk about genitals and see genitals. </p >

    When a visitor experiences this, they think “wow, this is great” and they continue and every interaction creates trust and confidence. It’s a magic experience, it really adds to my online offering and I’ll be rolling it out over the next month. </p >

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