Theo Paphitis has said ‘I’m out’ to the BBC’s Dragons’ Den and won’t be joining the rest of the Dragons for the next series of the programme. He follows fellow ex-Dragon Hilary Devey who announced she was leaving the show last June. What does this mean for hopeful British entrepreneurs? Does this signify the end of Dragons’ Den?
Well, probably not to be honest. It looks like the BBC are looking for a replacement for him, so don’t worry all you entrepreneurs, you’ll still be able to face the Dragons.
But if the idea of going on national telly and having the Dragons tear your business ideas apart fills you with fear, don’t worry. We have found some equally good funding options that don’t involve being on telly at all.
First up is a scheme we’ve mentioned before. The Government’s Start-Up Loans scheme is still open for applications from anyone aged 16-30 with a really great business idea. Loans of up to £2,500 are available and they’ll be paid back over five years at a low interest rate.
The next option we found is very similar to Dragons’ Den, but doesn’t involve dragons criticising your business idea on national TV. This one is called Angels Den. It even sounds less frightening and more welcoming doesn’t it? It's essentially the same idea: you pitch a business idea and an Angel offers you money in return for a stake in your company. Simple. Before you get to that stage though, you’ll meet a regional manager who will help you to make sure your pitch is ready to go to investors.
Regional managers run weekly business funding clinics all over the country, so you should be able to access one of them fairly easily. From there you’ll then decide how you’re going to go about accessing investors, whether through a ‘SpeedFunding’ event or an ‘Angel Club’. It’s worth bearing in mind that there is a fee involved with accessing these, so you’ll probably want to incorporate that fee into the investment that you’re looking for. All the details about Angels Den is available on their website.
Another, slightly more creative, way of coming up with funding for your business idea is to put a pitch onto a crowd funding site such as Kickstarter. You can apply for funding for literally any idea you can think of on Kickstarter – there’s currently a project wanting to build the Death Star.
Kickstarter works by asking the public to put money towards ideas they like, in exchange for a reward. The more money a supporter pledges, the better reward they receive. But, you don’t receive any money unless your project is funded completely in the selected time.
For example, currently looking for funding on Kickstarter is a ‘Wallhub’, basically a light switch that has hooks for your keys and a place to keep post safe. Ingenious really. The designers have a goal of $5,000. If they don’t reach that amount in the next 31 days then they won’t receive any funding at all. However, if the $5,000 goal is reached in the next 31 days, then they will received the full $5,000 from their backers and any backer who pledged more than $15 will receive the appropriate award.
And O2's Think Big works somewhat similarly. You can apply for funding for a project that will improve your local community, and Think Big could give you £300 and the support you need to make it happen. There are plenty of accounts of successful projects on the site if you're after some inspiration.
So don't despair if getting Paphitis to say 'Yes' was your big plan for your brilliant business idea. If you've got a truly great idea and you work hard to make it happen, a Dragon isn't necessary.