Eye-witness account: Pitching your cycle business in the Dragons' Den

The BBC business investment programme has had no shortage of cycle-related hopefuls enter this series...
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Ever wondered what it would be like to pitch your business to the likes of Deborah Meaden, Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones? If you’ve ever seen Dragons’ Den then you’ve probably speculated how well you’d hold up to questioning (as well as how you would spend your millions).

With plenty of upstart cycle businesses eager to turn prototypes into production models through crowd funding and investors, it is no surprise to see more cycle businesses bashing down the Dragons’ Den doors. The latest series alone has seen the likes of apparel firm Fat Lad At The Back fail to make off with cash from the investors, and more recently Torch Apparel has chanced its arm.

Torch’s product lines use integrated lights. The helmet, through those integrated (and rechargeable) lights boasts 360-degree visibility, while the light-up backpack has similarly eye-catching properties.

In the Den, Torch founder Nathan Wills and UK business partner Hugh Roper asked for £75,000 in exchange for ten per cent of the business. Sadly initial enthusiasm for the products from the investors didn’t lead to investment, with the ‘Dragons’ not finding Torch’s patent to be quite as far reaching as they’d hoped. But, as Wills and Roper told BikeBiz, it wasn’t just about the investment opportunity…

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Nathan Wills: “While Hugh and I were excited at the opportunity to pitch to the Dragons we were well aware of the likelihood of not receiving an offer and the complexity that might come with any such offer. Aside from any funds our main goal was brand exposure and so far I feel great about the attention that Torch has received since airing. Hugh had a crowd-funding campaign ready to go at airing on Seedrs. The idea was to capitalise on any viewers of the show that might be interested in investing in our brand. We have already surpassed our initial funding goal and it still has over a month left [at time of press].

“Additionally, it has clearly made our brand more visible in the UK. Previously the company was known more in the US so sales were slow on the European side. After appearing on the Den we’ve seen more sales in the UK in three days than in the previous three months. We attribute this not only to the simple exposure, but the very kind reviews of the product and brand by all of the Dragons and for that we of course would like to say “Thank you!” to all the Dragons and the BBC.”

Hugh Roper: “I would like to add that I am personally very pleased to see Torch and Nathan’s design receiving the recognition it deserves. The T1 is the first of a number of exciting products that we will bring to Europe. To have over 150 investors in our business is brilliant and puts us in great shape to execute on our European plan.

“We are actively looking for independent bike retailers to show and sell our products. We receive many enquiries from customers in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester looking for places to try our products on. We look forward to the next few months, where lighting the night, becomes a real issue for cyclists all over the Northern hemisphere.”


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