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Rejected on Dragons’ Den – but life goes on!

Send My Bag founder Adam Ewart on his harrowing experience in the Den, securing investment, and hopes for the future

Adam Ewart appeared on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den on Sunday September 9, looking for an investment offer from one or more of the Dragons for his online door-to-door baggage service, Send My Bag.

The idea for Send My Bag came after Adam’s girlfriend was forced to pay excessive baggage fees when returning to Northern Ireland from university in Oxford with a low cost airline. From this, he identified a gap in the market for providing simple and affordable baggage transportation services that could be booked online and arranged within 24 hours. His idea took off and voila, Send My Bag was born.

Despite his enthusiasm and confidence, a tough ordeal in the Den meant that Adam left empty handed. All was not lost, as since filming, he has managed to secure a partnership with local Belfast-based technology company Lough Shore Investments.

Below, he discusses the pros and cons of appearing on such a prestigious television show, what he would change about the experience, and his high hopes since securing investment.

“Soon after I launched Send My Bag a couple of years ago, I received a lot of interest from investors. Although I did consider these options long and hard, none of them seemed to be the right brand fit for the business and so I looked at the feasibility of appearing on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, a programme which I had always been intrigued by.

I applied for the show in September last year. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t apprehensive about receiving a reply due to the high entry numbers, but, a call back earlier this year confirmed my place and I travelled to England to film the show in March.

Those of you who watched the show will have witnessed some fairly uncomfortable moments during my grilling, but despite this, I found the appearance thoroughly enjoyable. As you would imagine, it was also quite eye-opening to see and hear what these successful business men and women thought of Send My Bag.

Despite not securing any funding from the dragons themselves, the experience was completely worthwhile as I learnt a lot from it, and of course received invaluable publicity.

I entered the Den with an opening offer of 5% in return for an investment of £100,000. Critics have since said these were bold expectations, as I didn’t go higher than 7%, even when haggled by Duncan Bannatyne.

That said, my ambitions for Send My Bag have never faltered and I sometimes find it hard to understand why other entrepreneurs with a respectable business plan and proposition would consider selling up to 30 or even 40% of shares to an investor at seed stage.

In hindsight, I think the only way I would have been convinced to change my figures was if I hadn’t already been in talks with Lough Shore. In addition to this, I could have bolstered my business case further by taking some real life achievements and case studies of success to share.

As the rest of my pitch unfolded, each Dragon continued to question various aspects of the business. One of these was the possibility of copy-cats, to which my response was somewhat scrutinised by Theo Paphitis. However, I do believe that Send My Bag is strong enough to withstand the competition. A business is not just about intellectual property, it’s about the individuals behind it, the strength of the proposition and more importantly, the superior customer service and added value offered.

Another area addressed was regarding whether I had yet to take a wage out of the net profit from the past year, to which I answered I had not. I think this was misunderstood by many viewers that I didn’t pay myself a wage at all, which is not the case, I simply meant the figures I provided were not inclusive of my wage. I do pay myself a salary and I have done for several years since the launch.

Despite the disappointment in the Den, I have since secured a partnership with Lough Shore Investments, a reputable brand which specialises in high potential management teams from next generation start-ups. This investment is invaluable to Send My Bag for a number of reasons. The first being that Lough Shore has a valid interest in my business.

The team there has closely scrutinised the brand and they recognise the potential in it. The second is that as a partner, it has a lot of global business experience in key markets such as the US I am also fortunate that the company’s founder Danny Moore will be joining our board as a non-executive director, bringing invaluable expertise that will aid our ambitious growth plans.

Although my appearance on Dragons’ Den was a real eye opener and a great experience, I feel better placed taking investment from a reputable firm such as Lough Shore that has the infrastructure, expertise and contacts to help grow my business into a global success.”

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