I have secrets.
I have secrets you would love to know.
I know some secrets of Dragons’ Den I can’t tell, but I am ready to tell some others!
I never knew anyone that had been in the Den before I did it, so although I had seen the programme, I didn’t know what to expect from actually being there. My stomach turned every time I thought about it.
Let me whizz you all back to 8 years ago when Dragons’ Den actually called me to ask if I wanted to go on the show! Naturally I thought it was a prank call, but then went on to discover they are always looking for interesting business owners and products and had stumbled (pun) across me on the internet. I just went along with it, feeling very flattered. But I got to the point where they wanted to screen test me and I pulled out. Not because of the screen test, but because the business was too new, and I didn’t actually need any investment. I thought the Dragons would see straight through me and go on the attack! So narrowly dodging National humiliation, I put my head down and kept working, kept designing and kept growing but often kept thinking about it.
Now let me whizz you back to April 2021, because that’s when it all started for real. My daughter pretty much dared me to do it, so once more I turned my attention to the Den. Applications, video pitches, numbers numbers, forecasts and returns. My head was full to bursting, the pressure was intense because now I had a lovely business that I worked really hard at and adored. I didn’t want to appear on tv and cock it all up. Every minute was taken up with the Den, right down to what I would wear, who I would take in with me and where to hide a tissue in case I cried.
“Shut up Lyndsay, you do go off on a tangent.”
Said Deborah Meaden. To me! It still gives me goosebumps.
Bet you weren’t expecting that. Neither was I and I daren’t imagine what the look on my face said. It never made the edit so I guess it wasn’t pleasant!
My time in the Den threw up a few surprises I wasn’t prepared for.
To start with I was in there for over an hour! I had bargained on about 15 minutes, and so had my bladder. My starting pitch lasted two and a half minutes, and I was supported by my two wonderful models Jez and Katie. They chatted effortlessly to the Dragons, saying how wonderful their sticks were. It was after they left there were many questions and so many numbers (largely made up) to try and instantly remember. As the s**t got real each Dragon slipped into their TV characters seamlessly.
Sara is the jolly friendly Geordie, Touker is the little guy trying to compete and be heard, Peter is the calm voice of reason, Steven is the good-looking assassin, and Deborah is the original fire breathing Dragon and she scares the crap out of you!
Characters aside, and it is TV after all so you have to expect it, they are all warm lovely people. I had made them all a walking stick each, naturally! I tried to make them so they fit their personalities.
How did I do?
Touker got a shiny solid black one with a black ball handle, with an engraved collar saying T.S. Bit of a pimp stick. Matched his cufflinks.
Sara got a beautiful transparent dark pink T handle one with a gorgeous sparkly pink strap and Sara swirled on a silver collar. She was even wearing a pink suit – what a good gues that was!
Deborah got one made entirely of our offcuts, engineered to screw together, in line with her sustainability and recycling beliefs. Tick.
Steven got a light up stick that looked like a light saber, and he immediately jumped out of his battered leather chair and started playing with it like a kid! It was great to see he thought they could be fun. No offence was meant and none was taken, so please don’t write and tell me I should have been insulted that he played with it. He also said he could imagine himself at any club in New York with it. I added I could imagine myself there with him, then immediately blushed and wished I had chosen my words better!
Lastly, Peter got a funky orange bubble stick to go with the loud colourful socks he always wears. Did you know he’s about 8 feet tall? His stick was almost as tall as Deborah Meaden! He’s a jolly giant.
The crew did an amazing job of lighting the space around the sticks, making them look sexier than ever. I couldn’t help feeling proud of them and the battles I’d faced to get to this point.
Each Dragon said I was doing an excellent job, I was an excellent entrepreneur, my products and branding were excellent and even my pitch was excellent. They also all said I didn’t need a Dragon to get me where I wanted to go, and I was capable of doing it on my own. There was no doubt I came out with 5 great endorsements for the sticks, but no investment. As I wheeled back into the green room, my team was eagerly waiting to hear the outcome. I was on a high because of the support I’d just heard. They crashed into gloom when I said I was Dragonless.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that not getting the backing of a Dragon was the perfect decision for me. The pressure lifted immediately. Had I bagged a Dragon, the pressure would only have ramped up. We were now free to continue working as we had been, under our own steam and supervision, with our eyes focussed on the dreams we had for the business, not somebody else’s.