Episode 6: Eoin O'Hagan
Q: Explain your Dragon's Den experience?
A: I spent several days refining and practicing my pitch and I was able to get several volunteers to sit in and watch my pitch and then question me as a Dragon might. I came to Dublin the night before the show with Martina (my project manager) and we had dinner and talked through possible questions and answers. Early to bed and then up early to arrive in Rathfarnham for 8am to get dressed and made up for the show. I met Catherine (the Pitch Coach) and we went through my pitch several times to get the speed and my breathing right. I found this very helpful as Catherine found I was racing through parts of the pitch and she was able to reassure me that time wasn't a big issue with it. A short interview, then waiting on the stairs for what seemed an age before I got the nod to go and face the Dragons.
Q: Who was the toughest Dragon?
A: All the Dragons were tough. This is what I expected as it's not a party that they are hosting. I think my pitch was good and I was ready for any questions that they might ask me. www.clarevirtually.ie is my product and I know that it works for my clients and is reaching where I want it to reach.
Q: Were you nervous?
A: I was nervous doing my pitch but not as nervous of doing it in front of strangers as I had been at home in Clare doing it for friends and acquaintances. Having worked in the film industry I just focused on the Dragons and ignored the many other people there. Taking a breath before each answer helped me relax too.
Q: Were you surprised by some of the questions?
A: After I showed the Dragons the video I took a deep breath and waited for the first question. I wasn't surprised by any of the questions it was just the negative response to my answers that surprised me. I know www.clarevirtually.ie and I know that it works and I definitely know that it has the potential to expand countrywide and become a brand. It is different to any other tourism promotion website and its simplicity is its best feature. 3 clicks of your mouse and you are booking one of the products. Maybe it's because none of the Dragons are in the tourism industry that they didn't like it and didn't get it. If they had had more time to study the website they might have been more amenable to investing in it.
Q: Who was most interested in your idea?
A: Sean O'Sullivan seemed to be the most interested because of his tech background and work with the CoderDojo people. He tried to pull the idea apart by comparing it against another website. Sean said that the other website was better but I disagreed and said it was subjective and that clarevirtually.ie is objective. Two different products altogether. www.clarevirtually.ie is not driven by collecting opinions or experiences and its simplicity is that the virtual tours show you where you will stay, eat, see and experience and who you will meet. The tours even show what you will experience, taste and drink. Sean questioned me about the nationalities of the vistors to the website and was surprised to hear that over the last four months of 2012 over 30% of all visitors were from the USA. Sean didn't get the idea and then said he was out. Peter showed no interest in it at all and neither did Ramona. Barry didn't like the production values of the video and then withdrew. Gavin said he admired the fact that I had 115,000 vistors to www.clarevirtually.ie in 2012 and that 30% were from the US but that the idea wasn't for him and withdrew. I then left the Den, head held high as I knew I had done well even though the Dragons' didn't invest. I had spoken in depth about the possibilities for clarevirtually.ie and defended my idea.
Q: Would you have done anything differently?
A: I wouldn't have done anything differently at all. I had prepared my pitch well and had rehearsed it and prepared for any questions that might be asked about clarevirtually.ie. My business plan is a positive attempt at tourism promotion in a different, innovative and entertaining way. When it goes countrywide www.virtually.ie will become a successful and moneymaking enterprise.
Q: Would you recommend applying for Dragon's Den to any other budding entrepreneurs?
A: I would recommend that other entrepreneurs apply for Dragons' Den. It is the biggest shop window in Ireland for your product and if you are prepared for the rigorous questioning it will stand to you. I didn't get investment from any of the Dragons but that doesn't matter as the viewer will see me giving a good pitch and answering all the questions in a knowledgeable way. My product www.clarevirtually.ie wasn't to the Dragons taste but there are 500,000 viewers of the programme who might be potential clients!
Q: In five year's time where do you see your product/company?
A: In five years time I see www.virtually.ie expanding out into other countries and promoting tourism there too. The virtual tours on the website are formulaic and can transfer into other territories seamlessly. The idea is to give the visitor a taste of what awaits him or her and saves time and money. For the tourism provider it is a different way to show off their product.
Q: What is your lasting memory of the Den?
A: Walking down the stairs afterwards and thinking that I had not let myself down and had promoted www.clarevirtually.ie in a different, innovative and entertaining way, and importantly, that 500,000 people would recognise those facts too.