5 steps to win on Dragons’ Den – and walk away!

Ryan O’Rorke, founder of Flavourly, won four offers on last night's Dragons’ Den episode. But after accepting investment he changed his mind…

Last night Ryan O’Rorke, founder of fast-growing food and drink subscription club Flavourly, wowed residents of BBC2’s Dragons’ Den – receiving four investment offers and one job offer.

On screen he was seen accepting a joint proposal from Piers Linney and Peter Jones CBE, though subsequently O’Rorke decided to continue growing Flavourly without the Dragons’ investment.

Instead, O’Rorke waited until last night’s broadcast to go live just hours later on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, seeking £300,000 for a 17% stake in the business.

Here O’Rorke gives his top tips to anyone thinking of entering the den…

1. Get up close and personal

“As basic as this sounds, you’ve got to do your homework on the Dragons and the show itself. Find out everything you can about them and their backgrounds, way ahead of your pitch.

“They’ve many businesses and experiences, so one Dragon may be a better fit for you than the others. I thought I’d done all my due diligence until I got caught out by Duncan Bannatyne, who reminded me he had 250,000 potential Flavourly customers on his health clubs’ database.

“By that point, I’d already had offers from him and the others. Had it happened earlier on in the pitch, it might have caused problems.”

2. Don’t forget your figures

“Since I’d done a lot of homework and watched many, many hours of the show, the first thing I knew I couldn’t get wrong was my numbers. I cannot stress this enough!

“The Dragons hate fudging and flannelling when it comes to the figures – it makes their blood boil. And they’re right. Knowing your numbers is fundamental to running any business and you should be able to clearly outline them to the Dragons too.

“Forget them at your peril!”

3. Leave your shovel at home…

“Another big no no as far as the Dragons are concerned is hole digging. If they ask you a question, be decisive and direct.

“Whatever you do, don’t ramble on or you’ll find yourself saying things you wish you hadn’t mentioned – and they’ll tear you to pieces!

“Standing in front of five multimillionaires and a film crew is obviously intimidating. But if you project confidence (not arrogance) in your product and show no fear, you’re more likely to get them engaged and, hopefully, onside.”

4. But not your body armour

“Not every business is going to excite the Dragons. Yours may not catch their attention – they may even give it a firm battering. But try not to take it to heart.

“Remember it’s you who has put in the work and has not given up. You’re the one who has got the business to where it is today and should be proud of that.

“They’re just expressing their opinions, so try not to take them to heart. Besides, they’re not always right – as many of the famous and successful Dragons’ Den ‘rejects’ have proved.”

5. Yeah but no

“You’ve nailed your pitch, skipped through the interrogations and the Dragons’ eyes are ablaze – with excitement. Fantastic! Congratulations, you’ve played an absolute blinder. Next up are the offers.

“The Dragons will come in at one end, you’ll try to knock them down. If you’re lucky, you might end up somewhere in the middle. You’ll accept an offer, shake hands and, in theory, the deal is done.

“However, you may then have second thoughts. The stake may be too high, the commitment too low – whatever it is, if you’re not 100% convinced the deal will truly enhance your business in the long term, be bold enough to step away.

“If you’ve shown you can snare a Dragon, you’re already on to a winner!”

Ryan O’Rorke is the founder of fast-growing food and drink subscription club Flavourly.

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  1. It always amazes me when I watch Dragons Den how unprepared some applicants are – they don’t know there numbers or there business plan and when questioned often fall apart. Knowing your numbers is absolutely vital when attempting to garner support for your business idea and you would have thought that any applicant would have researched fully the kind of questions they are likely to be asked, and ensure they have rehearsed the answers to the enth degree. I do find the programme very interesting and you can actually learn from it if you read between the lines.