tentree went on Dragons Den in Season 7 (view episode) and were also nominated as one of the top ten “Game Changing” pitches from the first 8 seasons. Additionally, we recently had a follow up air on the current season. To be successful on the show, all you need are these 10 tips and a great idea:
1. Before the Tryout: What is your Goal? If you try out for the show, you are looking for a combination of exposure, financing and business expertise. Your strategy for the show will vary based on what you choose. If you want exposure but are not looking for financing, then make a low ask to get lots of interest when the cameras are rolling.
2. Initial Pitch: Be Real We first saw the sign for Dragons Den tryouts the day they were happening. We went in to check out what was going on and ended up getting a chance to make a pitch to the producers. With no plan, no props and no suits we went in and made a 45 second elevator pitch to the producers. They loved it. Don’t over prepare. If you have a solid idea, it will sell itself.
3. At All Times: Know Your Numbers We pitched our idea after being in business for only 3 months. They key was that we knew our numbers and we had sales. It’s hard going in without any sales and we wouldn’t recommend it. Know your sales, profits, gross margin, profit margin, and projections.
4. Before Filming: Prepare for the Worst Millions of people watch this show and hope to see either great new business ideas or else dumb ones that get torn apart (why Kevin’s role was so important!). Have some experienced business minds, preferably venture capitalists, to take you through the tough questions so you don’t end up getting torn apart.
5. On Film: Have Flare You have to have some cool props prepared, some funny lines, and a crew that is energetic, animated, excited, and confident.
6. Throughout the Process: Get the Producers on Your Side Your producers are the people who pitch your idea to the rest of the team at CBC, so make sure they like you. Spend time getting to know them and make sure they genuinely like you and your idea.
7. After Filming: Aim for the Money Slot What is the process like of getting on the show? First, you apply online. Second, if you are successful, you do a pitch in front of the producers at a local venue. Third, if you are successful again, you get an invite to Toronto to be filmed pitching in front of the Dragons (ensure to budget for travel expenses). Fourth, you wait about 6 months to find out what is going to happen to your spot. The pitch can be: – Not aired at all. – Aired on web only. – Aired on TV as a quick clip. – Aired on TV as a full pitch early in the show. – Aired on TV as a full pitch at the end of the show (most watched, aka the “money slot”).
8. Be Ready: Due Diligence When a deal is done on the show, the deal is not 100% done. Due diligence has to be completed before any money is transferred. For tentree, our deal never closed after the show aired. By the time we were done the process, we had found other means of financing and didn’t need the money. Tip: Whether you get a deal or not, assume that you won’t get the money. This will ensure that when you return home, you go back to business as usual. Avoid falling into a state of wishing and waiting. The Dragons’ are incredibly busy people so nothing is going to get turned around right away.
9. Post Airing: Go for a Follow Up After your pitch gets aired, update your producers on big successes and keep on them for a follow up. Remember, top of sight, top of mind. Call, e-mail, call.
10. Have Completed Financial Statements Financial statements are not only a crucial tool in understanding the health and value of your company, they are also required in due diligence. Go into the den using an EBITDA multiple from acquisitions in your industry. Don’t bump up the multiple, keep it low enough that the Dragons see a killer deal in order to get an offer and increase your chances of airing.