Seán Gallagher from Dragon’s Den just wrapped up filming an episode of Dragon’s Den this evening and has answered questions sent in via email. You still have time to take a punt and enter you and your business idea for consideration. Being on the Dragon’s Den is a huge opportunity, even if you don’t get investment. Thanks to Jane Downes for arranging this.
1. For you personally, what was/is the best thing about Dragon’s Den?
I love to see budding entrepreneurs come into the den with ideas which they are passionately committed to and the potential to be at the very early stage of the launch of a new business. I like to see how the picture of the proposed product/business unfolds and unravels over the course of the entrepreneurs pitch.
2. How much weight does the person have when it comes into investing in their company/product? I’ve seen American VCs who are more interested in the team behind a company compared to any cutting edge technology the company might be building. Is this the same in Ireland?
Yes. Having a product or business idea is important but only 1 of the key elements of growing a successful business. Ideas are ten-a-penny and what is really critical is the ability of the entrepreneur to gather the correct market research and the correct research team around them to deliver the project, this requires huge energy focus and tenacity. Very often good projects can fail in the hands of the wrong promoter while strong promoters can create successful business from quite simple ideas.
3. Should the amount of involvement an investor have in their investment be in proportion to the % of the company they have? For example if you have 40% should you be in very close contact with your investment compared to having just 20%?
Yes it would be linked to the % but also it would need to be linked to the amount of money. Also I think the amount of time I would invest would be directly portioned to the potential revenue on value that could be generated.
4. Dragon’s Den is huge and it seems to have inspired business creativity in the general population, it reminds me of the old Late Late shows where they had inventors on, from the guy from Ballygowan to the farmer guy that made feeding buckets for calves. There seems to have been a larger vacuum that has now been filled. Do you think Irish people, creative as they are in the arts are creative in business? Are we natural born business people or do we need a push?
I think is very much the nature- nurture argument. I believe we have a natural disposition toward business, based on a history of farming, trade etc. However I believe much can be done to stimulate and develop the natural predisposition through creating a combination of the right conditions for business start ups as well as targeted incentives such as training, early stage seed capital, mentoring and awareness programmes
5. With the economy the way it is, people are very negative about it but there’s silver in every cloud and a cliché to boot! What’s good about 2009, what can we do in 2009 that maybe was not possible in 2008 or 2007?
In 2009 we have seen a return to the core fundamentals of doing business; quality products, good customer service and value for money. The positive change we have encountered is businesses seeking to be more competitive. This now provides opportunities within the marketplace for start ups. Cost of labour and flexibility of working practices have come about as a result of realistic expectations.
6. Even for a small company, is working with the media and getting attention important or do you think a company should keep their head down until they reach a certain size?
The lifeblood of every organization is sales. And sales depend fundamentally on the marketplace being aware of the company and product. Marketing is critical to the push and pull affect of generating sales. Therefore a company needs to be promoting itself as soon as it has identified its core brand philosophies and its product offering.
7. In terms of marketing and doing direct business/sales, how important is the web nowadays. Are Irish companies tuned in enough to it?
All companies progressively need to embrace the web as people now search online for everything. This includes information about companies, products, services and most crucially they are shopping online too. Therefore companies need to find an appropriate way to promote, sell and create awareness of their brand through advertising, online stores, blogging, forums and search engine optimization.
8. Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to add?
The first consideration for an entrepreneur launching a business is their ability to embrace risk. You can’t swim unless you’re prepared to get into the water. So I encourage all entrepreneurs is to apply online to Dragon’s Den by going to www.rte.ie/dragonsden
The longest journey starts with one small step. Yours could be Dragon’s Den!