Episode 3: Conor Brady
Q: Explain your Dragon's Den experience?
A: Good fun, except for the dog not eating the food. That one is keeping me up at nights. But I loved the rest of it, all the hype etc. Exciting stuff.
Q: Who was the toughest Dragon?
A: Obviously for me I'd have to say Gavin Duffy. He shat all over the business from the word go. The rest is history!
Q: Were you nervous?
A: Not really to be honest. I managed to completely block out the cameras, I didn't even look at them. I imagined I was talking to another group of narky, know-it-all vets and that really helped. I have learned to be polite and humble with my information, it gets through far easier. I knew my business was sound and that the Dragons would know little about it, so I felt in control for the large part.
Q: Were you surprised by some of the questions?
A: Absolutely. From Gavin's "pebble dashing" comment you could say it was one of the less formal investment procedures I have gone through.
With 26% net profit year 1, 40% year 3, I was also very surprised by Peter saying he couldn't see the money in it, that the profit wasn't there, that my figures were wrong, without delving into them. But I suppose I was happy to spend less time boasting about my profits as the public would of picked up on it.
Q: Who was most interested in your idea?
A: I thought I had Sean, he seemed keen and I really respect the way he does his business. Aside Ramona who was hyper ventilating at the sight of the paw print on my packaging, I would of said Gavin was the least interested.
Q: Would you have done anything differently?
A: Asides having the dog starving I would of been a bit more pushy.
Q: Would you recommend applying for Dragon's Den to any other budding entrepreneurs?
A: Absolutely. Why not. It's an experience you can only benefit from.
Q: What does this mean to you personally?
A: The investment is everything. Some people will be sitting back in their arm chairs watching the show, after working 9-5 in an office in town, and they'll say "jeeassesus he shouldn't of given Duffy 35%..." but I have no interest in building a business for 30 years so I can retire with heart failure at 60. I want it built quick and it needs someone big to do it. Gavin Duffy was the only dragon I was going to give a piece of the business to so I was delighted to work with him. We're sorted now so hopefully I'll stop finding my beloved hair on the pillow in the morning.
Q: In five year's time where do you see your product/company?
A: I see gRÁW moving into mainland Europe by year 4 at which point we will sell the manufacturing side of things. My company (Dogs First Ltd) will then be the most popular and trusted, online pet store in Ireland and the UK. The no-nonsense Dr. Conor Brady brand will be established in the dog world and I'll be financially capable of conducting major feeding trials on dogs so as to bury the notion of our vets recommending cheap, cereal-based, over-priced, processed crap once and for all.
Q: What is your lasting memory of the Den?
A: The sight of Elijah's enormous nuts swinging as he walked away from my beloved food.
Q: At any point did you think you wouldn't get the investment?
A: Honest to God, no I didn't. At the start I firmly believed I was going to have all five dragons fighting over me. Even when Gavin was the only one left, my ego didn't let it go. I really thought I was going to change his mind. I firmly believed it was his sort of business. I tell people I was really worried at that point as that is what they expect to hear and you sound like a gobshite if you don't but I'm telling you, I wasn't. Less hopeful perhaps, but hopeful none the less.
I suppose that conviction is vital to running a successful start-up due to the sheer volume of disappointments you have to deal with every single day of the week. I've seen good businesses fold over the last few years as the person at the helm is looking for the harbour at the first sign of bad weather. Read a good line in the Sunday Independent last Sunday - I can, I will, I must. That line perfectly sums up how important this business is to me, how I am now well positioned to do take on the might of dry food propaganda, and how important it is for dogs the world over that I succeed.