Dragons’ Den: Everything’s gone green – S19, ep2

This week’s show was all about green products from compostable paint trays and eco body products to real-grass indoor toilet training for puppies

Cue credits. Dramatic portraits of all five dragons and their legends: Peter Jones “Business Titan”, Sara Davies “Crafting Queen”, Steven Bartlett “Marketing Mogul”, etc. After 19 series, let’s face it, the format’s getting a little tired. Which got me thinking. Let’s zhoosh up the show by going full Marvel movies and getting the dragons in Transformers-style costumes. Or The Masked Singer. Basically, what the show needs are more capes and spandex.

Okay, maybe Touker Suleyman needs a new superhero alter-ego as “Fashion Retail Tycoon” doesn’t quite cut it. How about “Mr Threads”, whose dubious superpower is turning up the loudness of whichever shirt you’re wearing?

And, just as each Avengers movie really concentrates on just one superhero, last night’s episode was all about Deborah Meaden (aka “Green Warrior”).

‘Basically, what the show needs are more capes and spandex’

Nearly all of last night’s contestants were promoting green, eco-friendly businesses.

First up was husband-and-wife team of Joel and Nikki Butley and their green decorating products business, Eco Union. They were looking for £85,000 in exchange for a 10 per cent stake. Their bright idea was a disposable paint tray that was fully compostable. Turns out that Sara Davies (aka “Crafting Queen”) owns a factory that produces plastic paint trays – who knew?

>See also: Dragons’ Den: We meet the baby dragon – S19, ep 1

All five dragons were quickly snarling and spitting at each other until, in a first for the show, Peter Jones gracefully dropped out, telling the couple Obi-Wan Kenobi-style that he was not the dragon they were looking for.

“You want Deborah Meaden,” conceded Peter. “I just feel that the one person who can make your dreams come true is Deborah Meaden.”

Another green business was up next.

James Inglesby and his partner Diana Ziegler, both in matchy-matchy shirts and jeans, wanted £50,000 for a 10 per cent share in their Nereus London eco-conscious hair and body spa products brand. What was odd about their products were their wrinkly disintegrating labels, which, as the dragons pointed out, wouldn’t be a good look on supermarket shelves. And their pitch disintegrated as quickly as their labels after Steven Bartlett, maybe channelling Spider-Man, called their revenue forecasts “a web of nonsense”.

After that, all the dragons attacked in a wincing bloodbath, which I could only watch through my fingers.

“I have zero confidence in anything that comes out of your mouth,” said Crafting Queen Sara Davies bluntly. “All we’ve heard is a lot of nonsense.”

“This is a shambles,” Peter chipped in. “This business is totally un-investible.”

The pair scurried back into the lift, with James Inglesby doing that weird fixed-smile thing where you keep nodding and smiling, despite the dragons having just ripped your business apart.

Things got weirder with an investment pitch for “beer for women”, which all sounded very Alan Partridge to me. Neitiv bizarrely tried combining mindfulness and lager, as though meditating while getting quietly tipsy was a thing. Unsurprisingly husband-and-wife Keeran and Vaani failed to satisfy any thirst for investment.

Victoria Fullerton, a Scottish goth mum, was the fourth contestant, wanting £150,000 for the dark art of getting little ones to sleep. Fullerton claimed her Toto wearable – think an Apple Watch for infants – used proprietary biotechnology to get toddlers snoozing.

Unfortunately Victoria, who, with her piercings and nose ring and shaven head looked more like The Mum With the Dragon Tattoo, kept mum as to the actual technology involved. Every dragon apart from Sara Davies hit the snooze button. But Sara offered all £150,000 for a 35 per cent stake and the alacrity with which Fullerton accepted would have set my alarm ringing.

The final entrepreneur to venture into the den this week was Canadian Rebecca Sloan, whose Piddle Patch was an environmentally friendly tray with real green grass for puppies to widdle in. She wanted £50,000 for a 10 per cent stake in her green product.

It was Peter Jones who immediately got down to business, so to speak. “Your product is for people with more money than sense,” laughed Peter, poo-pooing the concept.

However, the smile was wiped off Peter’s face when Sloan revealed she’d made £117,000 in turnover in 2021 and expected to do nearly a million pounds turnover this year with £224,000 profit. It was Peter who looked hangdog after that.

The four remaining dragons, each aware of product’s potential for environmentally conscious pet owners stuck in high-rise flats, all marked their territory. In the end, Sloan went with Steven Bartlett. However, Peter Jones still thought he was barking mad. “You’ve just invested in grass in a tray,” he sniped.

Meanwhile, back to my superhero idea, it’s just been pointed out to me that the whole point of the Masked Singer is that you don’t know their identity. We all know who the dragons are. Oh well, back to the drawing board *scrunches up paper ball* If the show’s producers want any more of my ideas, I’m here all week. Really.

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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