Ep 1 Review: Enter the Dragons

24 September 2014
Ep 1 Review: Enter the Dragons Image : 60
When delving into the world of entrepreneurship and presenting the perfect pitch, there’s no time to waste. In the presence of five top South African business moguls, the first episode of Dragons’ Den SA cut straight to the chase.

First in the den was Mmachidi Thobejane. Poised and precise, she delivered a text book pitch to the five dragons. Going green is big business these days, putting Mmachidi, who develops biodiesel, on the right track. Requiring R20 million in exchange for five percent equity for her start-up business, the Dragons were baffled that she was only asking for R1 million. Despite explaining her strategy for securing the rest of the funds, the Dragons turned her down.

After an intense start, the mood lightened with Tlou and Calvin Ledwaba’s “digital trolley”. Asking for R3.7 million in exchange for a 35% stake in the business, their product, meant for “easy and efficient shopping”, reduced the Dragons to a laughing mess. With Vinny making the astute observation, “Why not just use a phone and an app?” It was not surprising to see the pair propelled out the den by more muffled giggles.

There was more humour when Hannes Lombard entered the den with a rainbow-coloured very homemade popcorn-flavouring device, asking for R1 million in exchange for ten percent equity. Although not all dead-set against the idea, the Dragons were unimpressed with Hannes’ lack of preparation. With Vusi’s queries revealing that no research into the target market had taken place and Gil pointing out “You’ve taken the fun out of popcorn,” Hannes left unsuccessful.

Pitching for R500 000 in exchange for ten percent equity, Dylan Jonsson began his pitch with samples from his designer chocolate business, A Thyme To Dine. Despite a good start, the outlook seemed dubious when product flaws were pointed out. Nevertheless, Gil, stating that Dylan is “the consummate, embryonic entrepreneur” put forward an offer for the money, conditional to Vinny’s partnership, as long as they acquitted half of the business. Dylan was tempted, but turned down the deal, unwilling to give up majority ownership of the labour of love he had built up.

From specialty chocolate to custom-made mattresses, there was a bit of everything. Skhumbuzo Sithole is the owner of Sleep Q and has already sold 180 mattresses. Asking for R1.2 million in exchange for fifteen percent equity, the Dragons were not comfortable investing in a business, which faced such stiff competition. Dabbling with both manufacturing and retail, Polo highlighted the Dragon’s discomfort: “In business I like a clear strategy. I don’t like a lot of moving parts.” With all Dragons unwilling to invest, Skhumbuzo was out.

Entrenched in one of South Africa’s biggest sectors, mining, Lucky Moabi has a lot to offer with his hydraulic cylinder business. Currently focusing on repairs, he asked for R500 000 in exchange for forty percent equity, to further develop his business. With Lebo professing, “It’s not something I’d like to get involved in,” things looked grim. But Lucky’s name stood him well when Polo made an offer for the full amount, making Lucky the first candidate to emerge successfully.

And there you have it, your first ever Dragons’ Den SA in all its glory. Much like life, you win some, you lose some but you’re more likely to win if you’ve prepared properly. After all, it’s ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration that divide the lines between success and failure.

Thank you to all the Dragons' Den SA fans out there, you had a lot to say which is unsurprising as there was a lot to talk about!

Watch Dragons' Den South Africa on Mzansi Magic every Tuesday at 19:00. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and be part of the Dragons' Den SA conversation.