Dragons’ Den: Who made a dragon cry? – S19, ep4

Tonight’s show was full of tears, both from contestants and the dragons themselves. But which dragon was left dabbing their eyes?

More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones, wrote 16th-century mystic St Teresa of Ávila, and there was lots to cry about in tonight’s episode – both from dragons and contestants.

More of which later…

Tonight’s episode was a bit of a dog’s dinner to be honest, with products hawked including doggie knapsacks, tea-brewed beer and plant-based disinfectant.

First to come bounding into the den was the impossibly confident Mark Wong, who emigrated from Hong Kong to Britain at the age of just 13 without his parents and not even speaking English.

Mark had developed a taste for beer though and decided to create his own Impossibrew, tea-based low alcohol, low-calorie lager. Having sold out his first 4,000 bottles within just three months online, Mark was looking for £45,000 for a 10 per cent stake in the business.

However, after a solid start – “You’re the most credible 24-year-old who’s ever come through those doors,” said an admiring Touker Suleyman – the beer pitch went somewhat flat after Mark revealed how much each tin of bevvy cost, a whopping £3.75 a can.

At which point, Peter Jones became argumentative, like somebody looking for a bar fight, and all five called time on this lager proposition.

Next through the doors were husband and wife Rob and Debbie, ex-teachers who used their redundancy money to fund their pet project, Barking Bags. The former teachers wanted £35,000 for a 10 per cent share in their doggie knapsack brand.

Despite their claim that their doggie treats and poo bag carrier was unique in the market, Steven Bartlett handbagged them by saying that there clearly was competition and it was called an, er, bag.

Deborah Meaden turned tail on this pooch proposition, as did Steven, Peter and Touker. That only Sara Davies.

Would they collar any cash?

Sara, who spotted Debbie’s potential as a demonstrator on a home-shopping channel, offered the £70,000 they were looking for in exchange for 25 per cent of their business. Even then, Peter Jones thought she was “barking mad”. Unsurprisingly, the couple bit Sara’s hand off.

After a brief canter around clips of previous contestants who’d pitched cleaning products, we met Lewis from Opal Eco.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to get investment today,” the entrepreneur confidently said before sauntering into the den.

Lewis wanted £35,000 for a 20 per cent stake in his plant-based disinfectant brand. Touker pointed out that he was valuing his fledgling business as being worth over £400,000, despite only having traded for three months.

Then Lewis dropped a bombshell that, as of yesterday, he’d lost the rights to the formula his disinfectant was made from, having tripped up over Brexit red tape.

“You actually don’t have a business,” sighed a sympathetic Peter, while poor Lewis had tears in his eyes.

Sadly, this overconfident Liverpudlian left empty-handed.

Last to venture into the den was Charlotte Morley, whose thelittleloop is the UK’s first renting marketplace for kids’ clothing.

Charlotte wanted £70,000 for a 7.5 per cent stake in her subscription-based business, where you swap used children’s clothes sourced from sustainable brands.

This one had all the dragons fighting over fresh meat, especially when Charlotte told them she expected £4.2m from 30,000 subscribers by the end of year three.

Peter Jones flapped his wings, pointing that bigger kid’s retailers such as Primark and Marks and Spencer could do exactly the same thing and would she work with them? Oh no, I’d only work with sustainable brands, protested good Charlotte – at which point Peter huffed that any idea of fast-fashion brands becoming more sustainable was, well, dragons might fly.

Every dragon apart from Peter ended up snapping and pulling until mother-of-two Charlotte told them to stop squabbling.

In a first for Dragons’ Den, Charlotte asked if Deborah and Steven would double up their separate £70,000 investments, injecting a combined £140,000 into littleloop for shared 25 per cent equity.

“I knew that I liked you,” beamed Deborah, putting down her silver pen – at which point Charlotte burst into tears.

It was an audacious move that even made Sara Davies cry – maybe because she’d lost out, I’m not sure. And maybe they weren’t crocodile but real dragon’s tears.

More on Dragon’s Den

Dragons’ Den: Let’s get the party started – S19, ep 3

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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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