Preparing a Pitch

As Dragons’ Den crosses Canada in search of new entrepreneurs looking for investment dollars, and past participants with fresh ideas, this is a good time to review some of the rules for making a deal on the den. It is surprising how many people come onto the show, having presented their ideas to a panel of judges prior to meeting the investors themselves, and still manage to completely blow their presentation.

  1. This is about an investment, not trust. As such, be prepared to offer a fair deal based on what your business is worth today, not what you hope it will be worth in a year. If your valuation is off by too much, the rules of the Den will ensure that no deal can happen.
  2. Know your numbers – you will be asked about sales, profit, expenses, margins, and projections. Make sure you have that information ready.
  3. Explain your business in a single sentence. What need are you filling? What problem are you solving? It’s okay to tell a story, but you may be asked to summarize your business, in which case, one or two sentences should be all you need.
  4. Know the industry and the competition – what are other people doing in the industry, and what sets you apart? What barriers to market exist? What has happened to other small companies that tried to enter this market?
  5. Why do you need the money – sure, it’s nice to have extra cash, but the investors will want to know that their money is being spent for things the business needs, not things you, the owner, want.

Additionally, understand what expertise each of the investors has, and pitch accordingly. If your business needs help with marketing, Arlene Dickinson may be the investor you need to woo. If you’re looking into franchising your business, target Jim Treliving. Philanthropic based businesses may resonate with Brett Wilson, while the cold cash deals tend to connect with Kevin O’Leary. For technology businesses, be prepared to answer tough questions from Robert Herjavec.

If you come into the Den unprepared (and that includes rehearsing your presentation, having someone drill you on the numbers and play devil’s advocate in regard to your business), then it should come as no surprise that you don’t get a deal. Prepared and ready with the facts? If you don’t get a deal, you will, at least, walk away with some good advice.