Episode 4: The Hurley Sock
Q: Explain your Dragon's Den experience?
A: Not very good. I appreciate the dead lines producers work to, but having made it clear that my samples may not be ready for filming on my given date, I had to endure my time in front of the Dragons with a sub standard, older prototype which I knew didn't work. I nearly didn't travel up for filming. The cynic in me screams out 'Set Up'!
Q: Who was the toughest Dragon?
A: I didn't really feel any were tough as such. I knew walking up the stairs my product was not good enough and had to sell a 'dream' rather than a tangible, finished product. When Gavin started banging on about 'Hurlers being Warriors' and so on, I switched off from him as I felt extremely patronised when he went on that initial rant. I have lived in Ireland 16 years and my wife is related to a founder member of the GAA, but I had done my homework and know full damn well that at the end of the day, its entertainment and the 5 Dragons are still only people with an image to protect. The only difference is that they are all just a lot cleverer than me! Gavin's stare at me, when we had 2 false starts before my 3rd attempt, I was not quite sure what he was trying to do there. Any other situation would have been greeted by me with the phrase 'are you alright?', 'Can I help you' or the classic 'Want a picture? 'to defuse it, but...!
Q: Were you nervous?
A: Yes, but mainly because of the fact it was being filmed, not because of the people in front of me. I've played sport, and sung (!), in front of a few thousand people and felt more nervous, but with it being my first time ever with TV camera's on me, and not a match, I felt I was reminding myself of my breathing a lot of the time, and my own 'ticks' and to control them when under pressure. As I knew my product was not the one I wanted for the show, it took a lot of nerves away as I knew deep down I was on a hiding to nothing from the off. Englishman, GAA, & a poor product. I could see how it could pan out before the camera's even started to roll.
Q: Were you surprised by some of the questions?
A: No. I did get frustrated though in trying to explain to Niall that I knew my product was not ready and that I needed help to overcome that. I felt we went round in circles on that one, hence me using a poor analogy (cringing now just thinking of it!) to try & paint a picture. I felt that with Bobby being from Kilkenny, he spoke for me in all aspects of the GAA, which under normal circumstances I would have made an attempt to stop him and let me answer, but by then I knew my audience was well and truly gone so I kept my mouth shut. First rule of holes? Stop digging! Even with explaining to Sean about how I reached my figure of 800,000 hurls being sold each year, Bobby cut across me when saying that top players can break a dozen a year. Posturing perhaps? I don't know but I felt he took away chances for me to get into it more. I was disappointed in myself as I was 'telling' rather than 'selling' and turned none of my answers around into a close to put pressure back on the Dragons. But then I knew my product was not good enough, so I didn't put up much of a fight.
Q: Who was most interested in your idea?
A: I don't think anyone was and I can't blame them. I wouldn't have been either. Late Friday evening before the filming I didn't even have hurleys to bring as they were still in transit, so no wonder I ended up with a botch job!
Q: Would you have done anything differently?
A: Probably, but only by way of being myself more. I wasn't on the day. I tried but it was forced and un-natural. The real Simon would not allow for as many 'silences' between questions, but as I knew I didn't have my product, I was also thinking of damage limitation, in particular with my Wife's lineage. Even when Norah said to Sean about coming from Kinsale, there was a perfect chance to lighten the mood and build rapport ('we could have gone halves on the petrol Sean') but Niall was speaking and so I didn't say anything at all. Open goal missed I'd say. I would have mentioned more of the fact that I had something in common with 4 of the 5 Dragons. Niall, my Dad was Tailor. Norah, my Mum was Nurse. Bobby, my Wife is a Chef, and Sean, my mate worked for you in Kinsale. As for Gavin, I loathe the sea & sailing! None of the above changes the fact that I didn't have a finished product though.
Q: Would you recommend applying for Dragon's Den to any other budding entrepreneurs?
A: Yes. Irrespective of the outcome. For me, my drive has come since by knowing I had a product which they did not see. I will only make ¤1.50 tops per grip and to give up a third or more of that to a Dragon would not be good. At start up stage, my company would not be able to afford this kind of exposure, and at the time of writing, I feel I'm thick skinned enough to ride out the storm of abuse that will come my way after airing, especially as I have a finished product and website ready to launch next week.
Q: What does this mean to you personally?
A: Frustration, then optimism. The fact that the Dragons didn't tell me anything new about my product which I was not aware of already was ok. Plus when mentioning if I had contacted senior players and hurley makers, there was no chance in hell I was going to do that with the product I had for the show, so I had to take those comments on the chin and bite my lip too as I did already think that contacting those people is an obvious step in product development. After all, any product needs endorsement I just didn't have mine that's all.
Q: In five year's time where do you see your product/company?
A: If I get the patent, then my product will sell. I already have a hurley maker willing to work with me, 3 different clubs and senior players on the Kilkenny and Cork teams willing to try my product. That not even mentioning Daithi Regan. Again! If I don't get the patent, then my CrutchGrabber and Catering ventures will have to bring some money in for me.
Q: What is your lasting memory of the Den?
A: How TV really works and how it is all about ratings. I was told that by many people prior to the show, and even in one of the interviews Niall had done with the Independent, he alludes to the very same. One of my friends told me that only the 'shit or shit hot' will make it to TV. No prizes for guessing which mine was.