Every series of Dragons’ Den has one: Smarta likes to call it the ‘Reggae Reggae moment’ – that episode where the hunters become the hunted and James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne end up huddled in the corner of the room, debating how they can out-bid their rivals.
The Reggae Reggae moment has come early on this season, in the form of diffident inventor and single mother Sharon Wright, who pitched her solution to the problems engineers have getting electrical cables through cavity walls on last night’s episode. Her ingenious system uses magnets to pull cables through, and, best of all for the Dragons, retails with a 90% profit margin.
Wright’s pitch didn’t start especially auspiciously: her voice, which was probably softer than it should have been, quivered slightly as she explained her story – but then she started to deliver the numbers.
“I have a two-year contract with BT to supply all their engineers in the UK,” she explained, struggling to be heard over a succession of loud clunking sounds, which was Dragons’ jaws hitting the floor.
“I have a two-year distribution agreement with [electrical manufacture and distribution firm] Schneider,” she continued, “and I have a distribution agreement in the USA covering all 50 states and Canada. I also have a letter of intent for one million units.”
There was a pause, while the Dragons attempted to come up with something clever to ask so they didn’t look silly on national television. “Err,” ventured Scottish health club magnate Bannatyne tentatively. “Why do you need any money?”
“Because I work 16-20 hours a day, seven days a week, and I need your help to take me to the next level,” she answered, simply.
What followed was almost all-out war. “I’ll be more than happy to underwrite what you ask for,” said Theo Paphitis, while Deborah Meaden attempted to entice her with the offer of more money in the future.
But it was Bannatyne and James Caan, who co-own an electronics company, who took the final deal from the other Dragons’ grasps by offering Wright more than she was asking for - £80,000 – for 22.5% of the company.
So there you have it: it just goes to show, if you want investment from the Dragons, all you need is a great product. And great numbers. And, err, a confident yet humble delivery when you’re pitching. And, if we’re honest, quite a good sob story.