So, how did this all happen? When I was at university studying for a business management degree, word got out about a new TV programme which would give aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their ideas to some powerhouses of the business world.
From then on, Dragons’ Den viewing sessions with drinks and a takeaway became the regular thing. For us, the show was like gold, the drama and tension made for fantastic viewing and the Dragons were handing out gems of advice for aspiring businesspeople. I loved Peter Jones’ integrity and dry sense of humour and I had so much respect for Deborah Meaden, who quickly became a firm role model of mine.
I remember saying to my flatmates at the time “I would really love to go on this show” so imagine my surprise when in the early years of owning Crafter’s Companion I was actually contacted by the producers. They asked if I would like to pitch on the programme to which I replied an immediate yes, only for them to ask me how much money I would be asking for. I thought about it for a second and said, “oh I don’t actually need any money the business is doing really well”. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t end up going on the show!
Fast forward a few years and it became less about wanting to pitch on the programme and more that I wanted a piece of the Dragon pie. I’ve been involved in business mentoring and have made a few investments throughout my career so having the opportunity to do a similar thing on a scale as big as Dragons’ Den seemed like an amazing opportunity. And, one that I could only dream of.
Then, in December last year, my friend came around and coincidently we were watching Dragons’ Den. I said to him, “You know, I would absolutely love to do that programme”. He asked me why I didn’t just go for it and I thought to myself you can’t just ‘go’ on Dragons’ Den!
My friend, however, had other ideas and it just so happened that a Dragon had stepped down from the programme. He got in touch with one of the producers and not too long after, I was contacted by the casting director. She put me forward for a skype interview, with the series producer and executive producer of the show.
I got shortlisted for a screen test, which I did with Touker Suleyman at the beginning of February. He was so lovely to work with and they had us do a practice pitch. To my utter joy and surprise, I was selected for the position and they started.
They also had to check I was ‘good for the money’ because, despite what many people think, it really is our own money that we’re investing. In the first series alone, I committed more than half a million pounds and was the highest-spending dragon.