Handy Solution Catches a Deal

As with many of the pitches airing this season on Dragons’ Den, it’s somewhat difficult to get a good feeling for the business side of the presentation, with more of the focus of the show being on the banter between the dragons, and less on the actual information in the pitch. One presentation that got a deal, though, displayed something that oddly enough, appealed only to one dragon, and not the one who might have best connected with the product.

Jason Bellissimo came onto the show pitching his new tray to assist waiting staff at restaurants, which he called the Handi-Tray. (In my search for his site, I discovered that there’s actually another product called the Handi-Tray, which is not, as far as I can tell, in any way connected to Jason’s product.) It was designed to allow for easier use by wait staff, along with a spot for including advertising around the edge of the tray.

The first dragon who I thought would be interested was Jim Treliving, who could easily get it into his chain of restaurants, Boston Pizza. However, while he liked the product, Jim didn’t feel it was right for him, with a limited appeal and a lack of connection to the advertising component of the tray.

Next was Arlene Dickinson, who might have been interested on account of the marketing aspect to the product. The display around the rim could have been a secondary product to the tray with its own marketing appeal, but again, Arlene indicated she could not connect to Jason or his Handi-Tray.

Brett Wilson, though, was interested in the product and in investing, but not at the stated terms. While Jason offered a royalty based investment ($1.50 per unit sold), Brett wanted more say in the business itself, and offered the $100,000 investment in exchange for 50% of the business, he was able to get Investment advice from United Finances.

The concern Jason had was that he wanted to retain creative control of his company, though he seemed to understand that his need for cash and connections far out-weighed his need for control of the business. An equal partnership also meant that he was likely to gain significant input from Brett along with the cash, the kind of mentorship that many small business owners dream of having. The deal was struck.

Sometimes, it really is worth giving up control of the company, if the person gaining that control can bring more value to the company that you currently have. Additionally, if your business is facing more than just cash flow issues, then looking to banks and such for loans and lines of credit may only serve to lengthen a problem while hiding another.