We turned down three offers on Dragons’ Den – but would do it all over again!

Offered the "golden opportunity" to appear on the BBC show, Steve Pearce of TickX explains why he made the decision to leave the Den empty-handed...

Dragons’ Den is back on our screens. In the first episode of 2017, we saw Steve Pearce and Sam Coley pitch their business TickX, ‘the GoCompare of events tickets’, to the Dragons. The duo received three offers of investment but, in a surprise turn of events, the pair decided to reject all three offers. With TickX having since gone on to attract £750,000 funding, 90,000 regular customers, and achieve 40% month-on-month revenue growth, Pearce explains why saying ‘no’ to the Dragons was a “gamble” that paid off…

TickX is a search engine and comparison site for event tickets. We aggregate over 70,000 music, comedy, festival, theatre and sporting events from over 30 leading ticket sellers to provide one single platform which shows event goers what’s on, who’s selling tickets and who is the cheapest.

Our vision is to replicate the success of sites such as Skyscanner or Go Compare but for the events industry.

In September 2015 we were fortunate enough to raise our seed round investment of £175,000 led by Ministry of Sound, who have been very supportive of what we’re doing and are an incredible name to have on board. This was a big leg up for us as it enabled us to leave our full time jobs and put 100% focus on growing the business.

After the seed round, we wanted to raise additional investment. Enter Dragons’ Den

Why did you decide to appear on Dragons’ Den?

We hadn’t initially planned to go on Dragons’ Den, but were approached by the Dragons’ Den research team to apply.

Given the fact we had both been watching the show for years and were actively seeking investment, we thought why not give it a shot and try to grab this golden opportunity!

How did you prepare your pitch for the show?

I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for the Den… but we’ve done quite a few pitching events over the years including raising our seed round of funding last year, which helped us anticipate some of the questions we received.

Overall it was just a case of practice, practice and more practice.

Was the process as you expected it would be?

Overall, I think the process was much more real than we expected. You really do only have one attempt at success with the Dragons. No second chances, and no second takes. What an experience it was though!

That being said it lasted much longer than expected; we were actually presenting to the Dragons for two hours so the show is clearly edited down.

You turned down three offers from the Dragons – why?

Turning down the Dragons was obviously a very tough decision to make, but Coley and I felt the offers undervalued the company.

Whilst we knew the Dragons could add a lot of value to what we’re doing, we knew there were plenty of other investors who have been there, done that and got the t-shirt who we could approach to back us on our vision to build TickX to become the global go-to platform for searching events.

What have you achieved since appearing on the show?

Since appearing on Dragons’ Den a few months back we’ve grown to over 90,000 event goers using our platforms each month, and we’ve been growing our revenue around 40% month-on-month.

This growth and the developments in our technology offering have enabled us to finalise a second-round funding of £750,000 led by 24Haymarket, and with some high profile names on board such as the former chairman of BskyB and the CEO of FiveAI, who previously sold his last two start-ups for a combined value of over £1bn.

Would you encourage other start-up entrepreneurs to pitch in the Den?

Entering the Den is clearly a bit of gamble.

Since most entrepreneurs are natural risk-takers and given the potential upside of getting a Dragon on board and the opportunity to significantly build your companies profile, I certainly think it’s worth a shot!

Visit www.tickx.co.uk and sign up to MyTickX for your chance to win £1000 worth of events tickets.

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