EP 4 Review: How to train your Dragons

16 October 2014
How pitching should be done.

Tuesday night, 19:00 on Mzansi Magic meant Dragons’ Den SA and another helping of hopeful entrepreneurs convincing Dragons to part with cold cash.

First in hoping to tame the Dragons was Doctor Lester Davids of SkinCross, a company that’s researching and farming human skin for burn sufferers. Lester asked the Dragons for R2.5 million for 15% of his company. Essentially, SkinCross grows and harvests human skin, which is then transplanted onto burn sufferers. There were a few snags with the pitch; firstly Lester represented his research affiliate, the University of Cape Town which brought to question who owned the IP. Secondly, SkinCross’ forecast was undetermined and the Dragons simply didn’t know enough about the industry. Gil was the last Dragon to leave the negotiation table, “I really hope that in three years or five years time, I see you interviewed on CNN, rich as hell and changing lives. And I hope I am going to be kicking myself for the decision I made choosing not to invest in you right now. But I don’t know enough and I don’t have the ‘kahunas’ so, I’m out.”

Next up was Major Gama of Gama Research Consultants, a clinical trial management service asking for R1 million for 20% equity. They are a site management company partnering with Doctors in clinical trial research. Hoping to expand, Major put his best foot forward, however due to a shaky financial history and an unrealistic ask, all Dragons were out. “Your business at the moment is not worth R5 million… for that reason, I’m out,” said Polo.

Tshiamo Choene presented her Digniscreens next with an ask of R1 million for 20% equity. Digniscreens are a visual shelter in the case of road accidents when emergency services are attending to a scene. The idea is to prevent motorists from rubbernecking and slowing down to peer at the incident. It also allows for the victim to be treated in dignity. Alas her pitch was floored, she had not made a prototype, it was too easily patented and it all really fell apart. As a last ditch attempt, she proffered to sell advertising on the screen, this, did not go down well. “I was hoping you weren’t going to go there,” said Lebo. “Someone has just passed away and there’s an advert on this thing saying “”Funeral plans, R25 only””, I mean imagine. There’s a crisis, do you understand? I didn’t want you to get there, just getting there says I’m out!”

Next up was Piwe Sweleni, owner of Gyxipro (Pty) Ltd and producer of P-Tags; a scented pad you stick inside clothing that prevents body odours. He asked R2 million for 45% of the company. This was a very short and sweet pitch as the Dragons tore the idea apart. P-Tag at this stage was just a vision. “There are five stages a company goes through,” said Vinny. “… the mistake you’re making is that you want money for all stages upfront!”

Last but not least was Charmagne Mavudzi and her 360 Mobile beauty concept and asking for R350 000 for a 30% stake. 360 Mobile beauty mobilises beauty technicians to treat clients in the comfort of their own home or office, saving them the travel time and effort it takes to go to a salon. There is also a supporting app assisting customers in booking their treatments. Charmagne’s pitch was polished, watertight and prepared, and it wowed all five Dragons, all of whom invested in this bright young lady’s concept and will duly provide her business with a wealth of expertise. Vusi was the last Dragon to invest, he kept everyone in suspense, eventually he spoke, “I’m sorry, I’m in!”

Charmagne made Dragons’ Den SA history and set the bar high for other pitchers in terms of research, financial trajectories and knowing her market. It will be interesting to see if future pitchers will match her polished performance.

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