Dragons' Den, series nine: Hilary Devey makes her first investment

The devil's in the details, they say. But there are angels in there too. This is what Martin McLaughlin, Tom Callard and Christian Hartmann, founders of popcorn manufacturer Love Da Pop, found out when they pitched for £70,000 on yesterday's episode of Dragons' Den.

The Dragons were impresed by the wacky flavours but underwhelmed by the packaging. Hilary Devey deemed the business 'a cottage industry' - "It has no scale" she said. Theo Paphitis discovered that distribution costs had been completely forgotten on the P&L and one by one, the Dragons declared themselves out.

But then Peter Jones played his hand. He asked about the entrepreneurs' backgrounds. Turns out that they are all advertising execs working at Saachi & Saachi, an employer that has supported the venture to date. Having Saachi & Saachi on side is nothing to be sniffed at. They also have a potentially lucrative partnership with Secret Cinema, supplying popcorn to all their immersive film nights this year.

The lads' passion and drive prompted Peter Jones to liken them to the Innocent founders, "You have that same quirkiness," he said. This wasn't just lip service - he made an offer: all of the money for 45% of the business (a whole 10% more than they were offering).

Nonetheless, the Love Da Pop trio were delighted to accept. We'll be seeing a lot more of those chaps, no doubt.

Not everyone was so lucky. Londoners Krissy Sims and Kerry O'Brien - AKA DJ Trickles and Lady MC - entered the Den with a state-of-the-art turntable extravaganza in the back of their 4x4. This 'Base Station' travels round events and festivals teaching DJ and production skills.

The pair were after a £150,000 for 20% stake in the business. For a while, the Dragons were hooked. The corporate team-building arm of the business seemed a winner and when their biggest customer turned out to be sportswear giant Nike, it was music to the Dragons' ears.

But the pitch began to unravel when Sims and O'Brien were unable to answer Deborah Meaden's hard-hitting financial queries. Sims also uttered the fatal words: "We're not in this business to make millions."

Oh dear.

Despite being wowed by the pair's passion and noble sentiments, Peter Jones summed up the feeling in the Den: "This is a social enterprise. As an investor, I'm conflicted. I wouldn't want to have any money back. For that reason I'm out."

An unusually subdued Duncan Bannatyne added, "If you'd asked for £50,000, I would have taken a punt but £150,000 is too much." And the two entrepreneurs left empty-handed.

Other businesses to pitch during last night's episode included: John McGonagle, who was looking for a £125,000 investment in his blow-up bed. After squeezing into the car to try out the contraption, Theo and Peter Jones were totally stuck. "I can't get out!" squealed Jones. But he did, and was.

Then there was Glen Harden, the laconic entrepreneur with an answer for everything - but no business plan. The Dragons loved him, but not his UV body sculpting idea. Sunglasses and 'bling' collars for dogs split the Den: "I like dogs to look like dogs. I don't like that," said Meaden. And the business lost its shine when turnover figures were more chihuahua than great dane.

Inventor Alan Clark pitched a musical bathtub that hooks up to your phone to serenade you while you soak. "Using a phone in the bath is not a good idea. Especially if you're as clumsy as me," said Theo Paphitis. But overall, the feedback was positive: "Keep inventing. You'll get there in the end!"

It was husband and wife team Liz and Alan Colleran that really upped the stress stakes on last night's episode, however. Their product was ingenious: a new kind of camping mattress and duvet in one with applications from caravans to boats to trucks. But there were huge holes in the balance sheet. "You must know your wage bill?" said an outraged Meaden."Why are you being so defensive, Liz? You are pitching to investors. You should have all these facts to hand."

However, one Dragon wasn't fazed by the missing links. Hilary Devey offered the couple the full £80,000 for 26%. The Collerans gratefully accepted. And thus Hilary Devey made her first investment of the series. Hopefully, the first of many.

Tune in to the Smarta blog next week for more Dragons' Den reviews.

Missed the show? You can watch it now on iPlayer.

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