Simon Woodroffe’s Dragons’ Den lessons

GB goes behind the scenes to stare into the eyes of a Dragon

Standing in front of a group of people and justifying the idea you’re prepared to risk your livelihood on comes as second nature to some people.

To others it’s a nightmare that rekindles childhood insecurities. But the harsh reality is, if you want the money you’re going to have to ask for it.

BBC series Dragons’ Den honed in on 85 budding entrepreneurs’ moments of truth, offering a unique insight into the harsh realities of pitching for finance. Viewers saw the panel savage fumbled presentations and non-ideas but also invest their own cash into ventures they felt offered genuine potential.

Perhaps, surprisingly, it wasn’t always the silver-tongued that secured funding. But how realistic was that? Would an investor risk money on someone without a word-perfect pitch and wellrehearsed presentation in real life? Dragon Simon Woodroffe reckons so.

“You don’t need the gift of the gab,” he says. “It’s not always the talkers that make the good business people. In fact it’s nice to see a slip of the tongue as it exposes who the person really is. If you can see a real person you can trust that.”

One example from the series, and one Woodroffe counts among his highlights, was the amateurish presentation of a 3-D camera idea, which against all odds secured funding from Doug Richard. “It was probably one of the drabbest we saw,” concedes Woodroffe. “A better presentation would have been preferable, but you could tell these were just two guys with a good product.”

So if investors are prepared to forgive the tongue-tied, what do they look for? And if you’re looking to secure finance what should you do to impress? “You’ve really got to understand who you’re pitching to,” says Woodroffe. “It’s a really personal thing and you’ve got to make sure you get in front of someone who’s interested in what you’re doing. I always look for people who have got what it takes. Don’t hide anything but don’t give it all away. Be confident without being arrogant – and don’t appear desperate.”

Box out

Five essentials for pitching for money

? Be yourself

? Be confident but acknowledge your limitations

? Explain your idea clearly and concisely

? Don?t appear desperate to strike any deal

? Don?t hide anything but leave them wanting more


(will not be published)