Finance · 20 August 2017

How the founders of Pouch picked from five Dragons’ Den offers

Pouch voucher service
The founders of Pouch showed what can be achieved with a solid business plan

When Ben Corrigan and Jonny Plein took their business, Pouch, onto BBC investment show Dragons’ Den the duo would never have believed all five Dragons would table an offer.

The pitch took place back in May, but the two had to wait until today to see their efforts on the first episode of Dragons’ Den’s 15th series. To find out more, Business Advice spoke to Plein, a former corporate financier at EY, about his entrepreneurial efforts with best friend Corrigan.

Pouch vital statistics

  • What it is – a web browser extension that displays all of the valid discount codes for any website you browse
  • Who set it up – Ben Corrigan and Jonny Plein
  • How old it is –
  • Investment sought – £75,000
  • Dragons secured – Touker Suleyman, Tej Lalvani and Jenny Campbell
  • Equity surrendered – 18 per cent (six per cent to each Dragon)

(1) Why did you decide to take Pouch onto Dragons’ Den?

We were looking for a legitimate investment opportunity that would also increase the exposure of the business when we started thinking seriously about being on the show.

We made the decision once we realised that having a Dragon on board would give our new, innovative startup a massive boost in credibility in what we are trying to achieve in the market.

(2) What kind of work did you have to do before appearing on camera?

The BBC’s due diligence process was far more gruelling than I imagined. My background is in corporate due diligence and their information request list was as detailed as any I had seen before. It took about two months to complete the due diligence.

We, of course, had to prepare our pitch as well. Each entrepreneur must do a three-minute pitch, followed by a Q&A, and there are no second chances. If you mess up in front of the Dragons, you mess up. So, there was a lot of preparation in anticipating what their questions might be and ensuring we had the answers for every eventuality.

Most active Dragons in history

  1. Peter Jones – 64 investments in 139 shows
  2. Deborah Meaden – 63 investments in 127 shows
  3. Theo Paphitis – 45 investments in 78 shows

(3) Why do you think the pitch went so well?

Pitching on Dragons' Den
Hundreds of entrepreneurs have appeared on the show

I think the pitch went well because the concept of Pouch is very simple.

We save people money by solving the current broken system for finding voucher codes and deals. The Dragons saw this straight away.

Coupling our pitch with our respective backgrounds and industry experience, I think we looked like quite a good horse to back.

(4) Did you think, before entering the den, what you would do if numerous bids were tabled?

If I’m honest – no. We would have been happy with just one bid, let alone multiple. We were so focused on nailing our pitch and our Q&A we didn’t really leave space for planning different offers scenarios.

Maybe that was a bit naïve of us, but I don’t think anyone dares hope for that before they go in.

(5) How did you weigh up the respective benefits each investor would bring to Pouch?

Enthusiasm, industry experience and industry contacts. In that order. If you have an enthusiastic Dragon who is keen to help and pick up the phone to you when they have an idea, it will mean more than a Dragon who is a name in the industry but will only see you once every six months.

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New Dragons' Den investors: Jenny Campbell (second left) and Tej Lalvani (second right) join the three remaining business leaders

 

A look at the new Dragons’ Den investors

With BBC’s 12-year old business show set to return to our screens on August 20, Business Advice takes a look at the backgrounds of the two new Dragons’ Den investors.

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(6) Why did you want multiple Dragons taking more equity than one taking less?

This is going to sound so cheesy, so I apologise, but the sum of the parts is greater than the individual. Having three Dragons on board for slightly more equity was a much more valuable prospect to us than having one Dragon taking slightly less equity. Of course, every business is different, but that’s what was right for us in the moment.

(7) What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs about accepting funding and partnering with investors?

Pouch founder Jonny Plein
Jonny Plein now has three Dragons to help grow his company

Choose your partners carefully and don’t jump at the first offer you get. If one person is willing to invest, there’s a strong likelihood that others will follow. Most investors are looking for innovative and dynamic businesses and work to the same core principles.

Also, know what you are getting out of the deal. Yes, you are getting cash at a certain valuation, but what is the added value that comes with it? What is their “money+” factor that will make them the perfect fit for your business?

(8) What did you learn from other businesses appearing on the show?

We learned that the dragons have an excellent nose for bullshit, so don’t think you can gloss over dodgy figures/gaps in knowledge.

If there’s a weakness in your business they will uncover it quickly. It is best to be open and honest about your weaknesses so you can focus on your strengths and steer the conversation back to the good stuff.

Finally, it’s crucial that you should have an excellent grasp of your financials as that is the easiest place to slip up.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven is the editor of Business Advice. He is also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs. Alongside this, he is part of the team that hosts the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative. Prior to his role at Real Business, he was editor at competitor website Growth Business and head reporter at M&A Deals. Throughout his career he has interviewed leading entrepreneurs including Alex Chesterman, Lopo Champalimaud, Sarah Wood, James Averdeick and Alex Saint.

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