I’m Embarrassed to Admit… I Failed on Dragons’ Den

It’s not something I dwell on, although I do tend to avoid mentioning the subject, but on 6th January 2019, I appeared on Dragons’ Den. The actual filming took place the previous year on 6th June. I was on series 16, episode 12, if anybody is ever interested in watching it, and seeking amusement at my expense.
However, people do still remember the show. Only last week someone living in Perth, Australia told me he recalls seeing it, which just goes to show how much reach Dragons’ Den does have. Whenever the subject does come up in conversation, the most frequently asked question, by far, is ‘does the lift really go up and down?’. To which the answer is, ‘no’. The best way I can describe the building is that it is an old warehouse, which has been converted into a TV studio. The lift does not go anywhere, you just walk in one side and out the other. It looks very authentic, and the lift buttons are for real, but everything about the set is man-made, and not in the least bit authentic. You press the button on the ‘lift’ door, it opens, and you walk inside the ‘lift’. There are cameras concealed everywhere inside the lift and the corridor leading up to it. You feel the intensity of being observed from every angle and become very self-aware. We were left inside that ‘lift’ for what felt like a good 10-minutes. It’s nerve wracking because you know on the other side of that door, the Dragons are there waiting for you. My hands starting sweating in a way I have not experienced before, and I did not relish the experience of waiting for those doors to open. Once they did open, my nerves vanished, and we were instructed to walk into the studio and stand on a cross marked on the floor. The next thing to surprise me was the distance between us and the Dragons. It is not an intimate setting, and the Dragons are so far away, you really feel you must project your voice to make yourself heard. The Dragons also become further away the further down the pecking order they are, so Peter Jones is the closest, even though he is still several metres away, and poor old Touker is so far away it’s hard to see him properly.
Watching Dragons’ Den, I always thought Tej Lalvani was the most aloof Dragon, but in real life, he was the kindest and most considerate of the lot. He made the most effort to understand the Parcel Box market, whereas the others, particularly Deborah Meaden, were very keen to shoot us down, without giving much thought to the potential of the home parcel box industry. I think they missed a big opportunity, and Deborah in particular, was more interested in massaging her ego by slapping us down, than she was in exploring the opportunity offered in front of her.
I have no regrets. I saw it as a massive opportunity to get the product I designed onto one of the biggest shows on national television. Of course I could see the risks, and I did have alarm bells ringing in my ears, but the opportunity for my product far outweighed those dangers. Whenever the show was repeated, there would be a big spike in traffic to the website, and whenever it comes up in conversation, people are very generous with their comments and encouragement.
The product I took onto Dragons’ Den was my previous product, Brizebox, and I wonder if things would have turned out differently now, if I were to go onto Dragons’ Den now with My Parcel Box, but probably on my own this time😊!
Brian Willcox.

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