Episode 1: Jennylynd James
The Dragon's Den experience was surreal. I still can't believe it's over. Weeks of preparation for a two minute pitch and questions. It was nerve-wrecking getting all the facts and figures together and preparing answers to possible questions. In the end the preparation was well worth it. I felt I had covered most bases when entering the Den..... and.... I was forced to dust off the old business plan and give it a complete 'makeover'! It was a good opportunity to get feedback on my 'Taste of the Caribbean' brand sauces from successful entrepreneurs.
Q: Who was the toughest Dragon?
A: My two investors, Niall O'Farrell and Sean Gallagher were equally tough in terms of demanding details of facts and figures. This turned out to be a blessing. They wanted some reassurance about the business and its potential, before making and an offer.
Q: Were you nervous?
A: I felt a little anxious before entering the Den because the wait was at least four hours. Time passed painfully slow. However, having the opportunity to practice my pitch with our speech coach boosted confidence. She was very encouraging.
Q: How did you prepare?
A: I reviewed production costs for all the Taste of the Caribbean sauces - from Banana Ketchup to Bad Boy Pepper Sauce. I costed current production costs versus where production costs would be if processes were scaled up. I determined historical sales since introduction of the product lines, then developed a sales plan for 2010. This helped to determine what investment I would need from the Dragons to scale up the business.
Q: Was it as you expected it to be?
A: The whole process took longer than expected involving many hours' work for many days to put figures together. Then I got a good friend who is an entrepreneur, and my brother, the accountant, to review the figures to steer me in the right direction.
Q: Were you surprised by some of the questions?
A: Yes. I thought my preparation was adequate. But, I missed a few details and could not remember some of the material that I could find quite easily had the business plan been in front of me.
Q: Who was most interested in your idea?
A: Sean Gallagher seemed most interested with a series of tough questions, and he was the first to make an offer.
Q: Would you have done anything differently?
A: It may have helped to do more preparation of answers to questions and also to review more Dragon's Den episodes to see the types of questions asked.
Q: Has entering the den changed your perception of business in any way?
A: Yes. While a good idea is the beginning of a business, more work must be done to tease out the implementation of the business idea with a sales and marketing plan.
Q: Would you recommend applying for Dragon's Den to any other budding entrepreneurs?
A: Yes. Applying for the Dragon's Den is a good way to make you think critically about your business.
Q: What does this mean to you personally?
A: I have worked four years, full time on my business, with small, but steady success. I think the investment and experience of two Dragons will give the company the kick start needed to reach the next level. It is my dream that 'Taste of the Caribbean', the only producer of Caribbean sauces and seasonings in Ireland, will have products listed at supermarkets nationwide! Made in Ireland.... natural ingredients....great flavours!