My Dragons Den Story: Part 1

Apologies for my lack of posting of late. As you may have seen, in early January 2017 I featured on BBC’s Dragons Den looking for investment in my business, Igloo Disco. Since then things have been incredibly busy, meaning I haven’t had as much time to blog as I’d like.

The response from you all so far has been amazing and I feel very humbled, thanks for all the kind words and support you’ve given me over the past few weeks. It’s safe to say I had been shitting myself ever since it was filmed (mid 2016) waiting for the program to air. Although I didn’t get investment from the Den, the whole experience has been hugely positive, so I wanted to share my Dragons Den experience with you! There’s a lot that I want to talk about so I’m going to split my story into 2 blog posts, before & after.

First up is before the program was aired…

Den Preparation

After I got accepted onto Dragons Den the BBC gave me a huge list of things I needed to provide so I could be featured on the show. Rightly so, the show executives need to see proof of everything I said about my career and business.

This involved 4 months of providing evidence and paperwork to back up everything I claimed! This wasn’t just proving that all my accounts are correct, but also proving evidence of all the awards / accolades I’d won – One of which was pretty hard when I was that smashed that i managed to lose the DJ Mag award I won whilst naked in a swimming pool with Pete Tong, long story….

Luckily, i found a video of me accepting the DJ Mag award below, as you can tell, I was pretty crap at speaking on stage …

I eventually found all the evidence needed and was all set to go, I’d been given a date of filming – which was Thursday 9th June, only 2 weeks away! Suddenly, I realised I had spent all my time providing the BBC with evidence and NO TIME prepping the most important part…my pitch!

With time against me and after quickly realising I had very limited experience in pitching, I sought advice from some friends who encouraged me to get in touch with Public Speaking Academy based in Sheffield. I spoke to Lee one of the owners, he told me that they had the perfect course for me, it was a storytelling marketing course. The only problem was, it was a three-day event, and it starts tomorrow!!

Me being the spontaneous type and always one to commit 100%, I decided to go for it, on the spot. I had to tell all my employees i was going away for three days, as from tomorrow. Packed my backs, turned off my phone and set off to a hotel in sunny Barnsley.

The public speaking course alone was incredibly nerve-wracking for me, and I hadn’t even stepped foot in the Den yet. At this point I felt that I had A LOT to learn in 2 weeks to get ready for the den.

Learning to pitch…

Before going on the course, I did start to question whether I’d left things too last minute. Would I have enough time to sort my pitch out? Would I have enough time to put what I learn from the course into practice?  I didn’t know the answers, but knew I had to try and get the most from the course as possible!

The initial hurdle I needed to jump was my HUGE phobia of public speaking. Firstly I hated standing in front of people, I was shit-scared. Secondly, I really hate seeing or hearing myself speak, so much so that I used to get drunk and ended up making a fool of myself whenever filmed or recorded.

The course was really intense, and was actually only for intermediate speakers, so i was totally out of my depth. Fortunately, with the help of the course leaders and other participants, I settled in pretty quickly. By the end of day three I was speaking openly to a room full of people, telling my story.

Now prepped with some great public speaking skills I needed to construct my pitch, which I’d been tweaking on-and-off for a while. Due to the massive transformation I’d achieved on the speaking course, I booked in a one-on-one coaching session with Billal Jamil to help with my posture, body language and communication.

The Day Before Filming

I woke up on the morning having had only 4 hours sleep. I had to drive to Sheffield for my coaching session with Billal. I felt awful, i usually have 8 hours sleep per night. During the coaching, i completely re-wrote my pitch with Billal’s guidance. This was a huge gamble with only 24 hours to go, but I listened to the professional and spent the next 4 hours perfecting my new pitch. I now felt really confident, and I’d mastered my pitch to perfection.

Later that day I got a call from the BBC asking me to set up my Igloo in the Den ASAP! I thought I would just do this on the day of filming so had intentionally scheduled in some time to practice my pitch that evening and get some sleep. This wasn’t the best of starts and I did feel very rushed.

I drove to the Den in Manchester (where the show is filmed) and with the help of the site staff, constructed my mini-Igloo! I had the igloo made just for the show, as all ours were too big to fit on stage.  I have to admit, it was really strange staring into those 5 empty seats where the Dragon’s sit, especially knowing that I’d be in this same position 12 hours later with the onlook of a number of multi-millionaires ready to jump on my every word!

It was 11:30pm, the Igloo Disco was finally erected and the nerves really had kicked in! I was going to be on Dragons Den, representing my business.

Would it all go tits up, or did I have it in me to do my company proud?

The Big Day…

The night before my Den debut I was pumped full of adrenaline and couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t until 2am that I finally nodded off, then at 4:30am I woke up really needing toilet. Note: This has NEVER happened to me before, so this was proof that the nerves were taking effect of my body!

After I’d got up at 430am, I couldn’t get back to sleep again.I never took any exams at school, so this had to be the biggest exam of my life – and I’d only had 6 ½ hours sleep in the last three days.

I arrived at the set at 7am in the morning, met up with my Dad, James & Luke and met some of the other guys pitching their business. We had to have makeup for the cameras and have loads of pre-den interviews with.

After three hours of waiting (pacing around the green room), they call for me.

The suspense waiting for the lift was so intense, I waited almost ten minutes, with a host of cameras and lights pointing at me. The lift doors finally opened, I walked in, they closed. They then kept me in the lift for another five minutes, which is where you can see me saying “I am Danny Savage“. I just want to clarify that was me practising my pitch, NOT me trying to remember my name (as some of you have nicely pointed out!).

The doors finally opened, my music started playing, the five Dragons were sat in their seats staring at me entering, it was showtime!  I walked forward, stood on the spot i had secretly marked out the night before (cheeky), waited for the music to stop before starting my pitch.

At the start of my pitch, you can see that i asked the Dragons to close their eyes and think of their favourite party experience. This was an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programing) technique i’d learnt to gain trust and control of the room. As you can see, Peter Jones wasn’t impressed at all and I could sense that straight away. I just hoped the others had taken the exercise well.

The pitch itself went really well, amazing in fact! Once the Dragons had looked inside the Igloo, i felt a lot more relaxed. I’d even say my nerves had completely settled and it all felt really natural, like i was chatting to a group of mates.

I was in the Den for about 30 – 40 minutes. I was hammered with questions and I managed to answer them all well and represented myself and Igloo Disco amazingly well.

I left the den feeling really positive, the producers then interviewed me for around 10 minutes afterwards.

The pitch felt like a massive success, and I was buzzing. I was relieved nothing had gone wrong and wasn’t particularly bothered that no one invested. I knew that I would achieve everything I set out to on my own, regardless of any investment, it’s the way i’m wired as an achiever, i won’t settle for anything less than success!

Between film and air date

As I mentioned, I’d filmed the pitch in mid 2016 and I was originally told that my pitch would air in September or October. For some reason, the BBC decided to stop airing Dragons Den for the final part of 2016. I was in limbo as to when my pitch would be aired. Not only had this entire experience taken up a lot of my time, but it was a lot of expense too. I had a to buy a custom sized Igloo to fit in the den for example. I also have to admit, over the time of preparing and filming I’d taken my eye off my business a little. My priorities had changed and as a consequence, my business was suffering. I had let things slip for 2 months.

I spoke to one of the show executives who told me the episode wouldn’t get aired until at least 2017 and I was also warned that some pitched DON’T even make it onto the show, but they’ll let me know if mine does! I was worried I might not even get featured now, especially as I didn’t receive investment!

I decided, even if I wasn’t going on TV I was going to put it past me and take all the positives I could out of it. One being that it gave me a boost in confidence knowing that I could do this on my own. And plus, if it wasn’t going to be aired then I wouldn’t have to look at myself on TV, half-asleep, looking like shit (bonus).

I took a more hands-on approach to everything in my company.

The ‘Call’…

I had been working my arse off for months and my business was starting to see a huge reward for it. I’d kinda forgotten about Dragons Den and was just focussing on making my business grow.

It was a 2 weeks before xmas, when the majority of the country slows down – especially the event industry. I had been working with some web developers on launching our new website, which was still nowhere near complete. I’d always wanted to get this live for the date I appeared on the den, but as I never knew when this was going to be I didn’t worry about it too much…. And then i got a call!

The week before xmas the BBC call me up. They tell me the show is being aired on JANUARY 8TH 2017 and I’m FIRST up on the episode!

Ssssssssshhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttt!

You literally couldn’t have gotten worse timing, the events industry shuts down over the festive period and all my staff were on holiday! And here I am, 1 week before xmas NEEDING to plan a nationwide marketing campaign! I also left my xmas shopping until last minute, which didn’t help (sorry mum and dad).

I hit the panic button. It was happening. I was going to be on national TV. But I had no website, no staff and no clue how I was going to get my business in shape for the 8th Jan…

Would I have the time to get everything up and running?

Would I find the right help to launch a nationwide marketing campaign?

Would I be able to give my Mum an Xmas present she’d actually like?

Find out the answers to all of the above and more in my next blog post, coming soon.

Danny

 

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6 thoughts on “My Dragons Den Story: Part 1

  1. Edward MCConville says:

    Felt really bad for you when they started grilling you but you did well to get such positive feedback well done mate. One of my clients has been on the den before so I have witnessed the effect first hand. Bear in mind all the repeats in all different countries etc. You have have missed out on investment but you couldn’t ask for a better marketing coup. Good luck mate 😉

  2. Keeley says:

    Well done Danny – you were great on the show and it’s really interesting to hear all the behind scenes stuff! Looking forward to part 2!

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