Business Lessons from Dragon’s Den

While it’s really just a fun TV show, you can learn a lot from how some of the business ideas pitched on Dragon’s Den pan out if you make a mental note of the key things that the Dragons love and hate.

Business Lessons from Dragon's Den

Here’s a look at business lessons learned from one sample episode – including Graffiti Wallpaper from David, Coffee Bags for the Hotel Trade from Carrie, and Super-Luxury ‘Glamping’ from Christian and Caroline.

Graffiti Artist David struggled to answer questions on his company financials for the last few years, which lost him credibility in the eyes of most of the dragons. He was pitching graffiti wallpaper, which could be created by customers via a future app.  Peter Jones was impressed with David’s goal of giving back to the community, but was frustrated that this was pushed ahead of the business benefits of his idea.

He didn’t have a clear plan and although he presented with a lot of charm, Deborah Meadon lost patience with his vague proposition and declared herself out, closely followed by Duncan Bannatyne, Piers Linney and Interior Design moghul (who you would think would be his ideal investor) – Kelly Hoppen. Peter Jones liked the man’s character and ethos, but was strict enough to evaluate the opportunity from a business point of view.

– Be clear and concise about your proposition and its benefits
– Know your numbers!

Carrie was pushing her own range of coffee bags to supply to the hotel trade. She really new her numbers, and played the canny card of reading a quote from Peter Jones’ book ‘Tycoon’.

Carrie knew the size of her ideal target market and how much her company would make capturing less than a 1% market share.

She was successful in gaining a joint investment from Deborah and Peter.

– Flattery can get you everywhere
– You dont need to reinvent the wheel – just do something different / better.

Christian and Caroline’s Glamping business.
These Yorkshire business owners were asking for £200,000 for 20% of their luxury holidays business.

They had a proven record of running a profitable business and wanted to take luxury camping up a notch with the likes of four poster beds.

The husband and wife team had been in business for 4 1/2 years and had grown their occupancy rates amid a difficult economy and highly competitive market.

A risk was soon suggested where the land owners could potentially reclaim the land they were working on and if the business was to prove highly successful, take over the business and run it themselves.

While most of the dragons focused on this business risk, Holidays empire owner Deborah Meadon chose to send them off with the advice that maybe developing already luxury camping into a hotel-like experience, the magic of camping could be evaporated, and largely because of that, she was out.

– Consider every risk and document it, however unlikely you think it is.
– If you are changing an existing business concept, are you sure your changing it for the better? Thorough market research and testing is essential.