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Who are the Dragons on Dragons’ Den?

Dragons’ Den is making a return for Series 21 in early 2024, with filming currently underway. This time, there are two major additions to the Den: footballing legend Gary Neville and international fashion tycoon, Emma Grede.

They’ll be joining Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies and Steven Bartlett.

They’ve been brought in to “shake things up and impart their unique business advice on those entering the Den,” according to the BBC.

“Creative renewal is key to keeping such long-running flagship shows [it started in 2005] at the top of their game,” added commissioning editor, Sarah Clay. “Our brilliant guest Dragons Emma and Gary bring a different type of fire to the Den and create a new dynamic we hope Dragons‘ fans will thoroughly enjoy.”

The concept for Dragons’ Den originated in Japan in 2001 and was called Tigers of Money. The US version, Shark Tank, followed in 2009.

Most of the entrepreneurs you see on screen have applied to be there. However, producers can approach businesses to appear on the programme too. In fact, Sara Davies was invited to pitch before she became a Dragon but turned down the opportunity because she didn’t need the investment.

All entrepreneurs are brand new to the Dragons, with no opportunity to meet prior to filming, so all of the decisions and reactions are genuine.

Though the Dragons are shrewd with their investments, they have missed out on a few successful ventures. Some of the better-known overlooked brands include:

It’s well-documented that a number of the deals made on the show fall through in real life thanks to the Dragons’ due diligence process.

Sometimes the business owners inflate sales figures, make false claims to land investment or fail to mention important details. “This happens a lot – they have loans that were not disclosed in the Den,” Deborah Meaden said on the Small Business Snippets podcast. “I specifically ask now. People sometimes don’t count a Director’s Loan as a loan. Well, of course it’s a loan!”

Exposure is a major draw for some entrepreneurs, in the hope that being on national TV will boost their sales. Certain business owners might even dilly-dally on the Dragons’ due diligence process on the off-chance that they get a better offer from a private investor who sees them on the show.

We’ll take a look into who the Dragons are and a mini dive into their back stories. Find out what happened to past Dragons by checking out Who were the Dragons’ Den Dragons and where are they now?

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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