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5 Insights from Live Dragons Den Shark Tank Event


November, 2017


For over a decade TV audiences have been entertained by Shark Tank and Dragons Den, but is it real? Do people really make decisions like that? I put on a live event modelled on the successful TV series and in this video I share 5 lessons I learnt.


  • Matching investors to entrepreneurs?
  • Why do people watch these events?
  • Prepare the pitches
  • How do you attract participants?
  • Success – what does it look like?
  • Exclusive speeches by two serial investors

(Transcript of podcast appears below)



If you are in business or even if you’re just interested in business our guarantee over the last 10 years you’d have flicked on the TV and caught an episode of shark tank in America or Dragon’s Den as it is known here in the UK. It’s great drama millions of people watch it, it’s been going for years, you have a bunch of wealthy people and a bunch of poor people the poor people want the wealthy people’s money.

The poor people call themselves entrepreneurs and the wealthy people call themselves investors, now the investors will give money to the entrepreneurs if they think the entrepreneurs can make them the wealthy people, even wealthier and the entrepreneurs want the money so they can fund a business so the entrepreneur can be more like the investor and a wealthy person.

I recently put on a live Dragons Den star event here in London no edits no theatre the real deal I’m going to share with you five lessons I learned from putting on a Dragon’s Den style event. Situation Our live event was here in the heart of London at a prestigious location and most people would call it an unqualified success, why?

Because we are a commitment to investment, we had some really interesting judges, we had some great great picthes and we had an audience which were completely engaged – that made for a piece of drama in itself. The audience felt like they got a lot from the event because they got access to the investors but they also got to see how real investment decisions are made.

At the end of this video I’m going to share with you two clips of investors giving their feedback and what they’re looking for you should watch this video if you are thinking about pitching for investment, if you’re thinking about becoming an investor or you’re thinking about putting on a live dragons den or Shark Tank events just like us.

Lesson #1

Matching investors to investees – matching entrepreneurs to investors — this bit is tricky do not underestimate how much effort needs to go into matching the investors with the investees. The entrepreneurs I would liken it to being an extremely good-looking male or female and having hundreds and hundreds of people trying to date you because effectively what you have are investors who’ve got money and hundreds of people that want their money.

But the investors have likes and dislikes, trying to get out of an investor what it is they’re interested in is in itself pretty tough and when you get that you then have to look at all of these people that want to apply for the competition and think to yourself, is this a real business? Does it fit the model? And, will they be able to communicate their business model well during a live pitch? Do not underestimate the amount of effort that needs to go into matching investors to investees these

Lesson #2

Why do people come to events like this? Well it’s pretty clear the pitchers – the people with the businesses – want the investors money and investors attend sometimes out of the sense of they want to do good, sometimes they actually really want to invest in businesses and often it’s because the investors want to raise their profile.

But why do the audience come to live events like a Dragons Den style event? Firstly a lot of the people in the audience also want to pitch their business so they’re there to learn but often they also want to talk to other people that are pitching and more importantly they want to talk to the investors. They also want to be at something that other people will talk about it’s that fear of missing out.

Lesson #3

Prepare the pitchers – in other words prepare those people that can be prepared – you cannot prepare before the event the audience because you don’t know who they are, you can’t really prepare the investors too much because they’ll take offence if you tell them how to invest but the people that are pitching will probably need help on what should go into the pitch.

The two things you should guarantee the pitchers are prepared for are one how much time – they have they must not overrun the time, if they speak for too long it looks like they’re abusing people’s time if they speak the too little time it looks like their pitch is not worthwhile – there’s an optimum period that they should be pitching for and they must know what that is. Number two each pitch should have certain criteria always in their pitch for example they should always talk about how much money they have made or how much money they have lost but also they must say how much money they want

Lesson #4

Attraction, attraction, attraction, how on earth do you get people to come and be your audience? Believe me you need an audience, the pitchers may be indifferent about the audience but believe me the investors want an audience because they want their profile raised and they want to be able to be seen to be giving back.

How do you get your room to be full of people? you need to give this some thought there are lots and lots of free business events now that means that if you’re going to charge like we did you need to have a reason to come to your particular event. Think about things like having celebrity investors with a sense of profile  – they will in themselves generate a buzz, think also about having a topic so all of the people that are pitching are pitching from a certain point of view on a certain kind of aspect for example Bitcoin, or think about having your event in a really different location.

Here in the UK we have something called pitch at palace where you can go and pitch your business at a royal palace belonging to the royal family, our event was lucky enough to be held in a really prestigious location with a prestigious name behind us – I am convinced that’s one of the reasons we were able to attract so many people.

Lesson #5

Success, there’s one thing that can truly be said to qualify it as such and that is having an investor say that they will look to invest in one of your entrepreneurs that does not mean to say they write out a cheque there and then there is something called due diligence which will need to be done by the investor on the entrepreneurs proposition but if you have at least one commitment that is all you need on the evening.

We had one commitment out of five entrepreneurs pitching but we had two other entrepreneurs have further due diligence done on them after the so just because investment is not made at the time it does not mean that investment will not be may be made later on. But in short if you do not get a commitment of some sort during the evening during the event you’ll find your audience leaving and particularly the pitchers the entrepreneurs, leaving with a bit of a bad taste in their mouth because they’ve gone to a lot of effort for nothing –  that of course comes back to your capacity to match the investor to the entrepreneur do your due diligence yourself there and you’re much more likely to get it on and an investment.


Should you put on a dragon’s Den or Shark Tank like live event? The answer is yes if you have help  I had seven other people from my committee help me put on the event. You’ll also need a fair dose of luck because you need not only your judges, your investors, your people that are pitching and your audience but, you also need a commitment to invest which you will not know will happen until the night because after all it is live – unlike those TV events but if you do get it to work it is truly memorable and you get some serious profile.

The pitchers get to know you, the audience have a little bit of a halo, you have a halo from the audience because you are the person organising it and, if you were like me you’re the MC, the master of ceremony and you get to stand in front of lots of people but also perhaps more importantly you have some serious credibility with the investors they get to know you and they get to trust you because you put on the whole thing In conclusion yes try your hand at it but, only do that if you are properly prepared and you have people around you. Now to end I am going to leave you with two of our investors wise words on what it is to be an entrepreneur and how and why investors get involved with entrepreneurs in the first place

Mike Greene

Good evening, it’s a real pleasure and an honour to be asked but I’ll crack on – my background was in retail I started as a paperboy summer job Saturday lad and then through to managing whole countries for oil companies on their retail side. I was passionate about fast-moving consumer goods and I built a research business here America, Australia, New Zealand, I sold that business to a trade magazine and retired at 46, got bored very quickly and decided that I love business but I wanted to help and work with other people by becoming an investor into other businesses. Along my journey I failed a lot but I succeeded more and I wrote a book called Failure Breeds Success and one of these are talked about today is the importance of being willing to fail in it if you really don’t like failure then never become an entrepreneur.

Paul Daniels

Good evening I’m the eldest investor serial investor anyway that you’ll meet and I think it’s most unfair that I’ve been given two minutes to go through a 55 year career in business but there it is. I’ll be very quick. I started off in a family business in the food industry with food importers, in 1961 we built that up against great odds actually because we were competing against multinationals like Unilever and Nestle and we were selling to very powerful supermarket groups which were growing – Tesco – as others in those days and it was a tough school we decided, I decided actually when I took the business over that we needed to pivot out of food importing which was getting extremely invaded by the supermarket’s they were going and doing up themselves into added-value foods and we started buying chilled food companies, we bought Covent Garden Soup, we bought Johnson’s orange juice which is the biggest orange juice in the world in the country, sorry, and a number of others. We floated in 1986 and we then sold through an iteration a number of iterations we sold to a company in America called Hain Celestial which is the biggest organic food company in the world we now they now trade as Haim Daniel’s which is my name in the United Kingdom and all over Europe which I am proud of but it didn’t make any money particularly. I had three careers in total actually the second stage of my career was in starting other companies I found that the experience I’d had in the food industry helped me greatly, toughen you up a lot I can assure you, so I started a number of companies in very plural trades so we went into traffic management, we went into property and storage, we exited those businesses very successfully and I do specialize now in the sale of businesses and that involves an auctioneering process which is you eventually get to an auction stage which is the way to sell a business never to one buyer never to a first anyway that’s obvious to most of you and the third part of my career has been in being a non-executive director a monitor on the board for various venture capitalists and helping so I’m doing two things really I’ll help me people to get into business particularly young people, I was the food advisory board chairman of grey’s snack food business which was very successful and I consulted, Carlisle and secret escapes was another one which I was an early investor in, some of them have been much smaller, some of them will be unsuccessful, I think people like to have me around because all the mistakes I’ve made and because of my white hair makes them feel comfortable. I do think that a lot of people who are passionate in a particular area now don’t actually understand the concepts of business, they don’t understand the bottom line and the necessity to get there one day unlike Uber, for example. Anyway that’s enough for me, thank you very much.