People frequently ask me about my experience of being on Junior Dragons Den, so I have made this page to give an insight.
I had thought about applying for Junior Dragons Den since I started my business, but it wasn’t until I got chatting to a local entrepreneur at the National Crafts & Design Fair that I seriously thought about it. I decided to apply soon after that by filling out the online form. I then got a phone call when I was on Grafton Street in Dublin, where I was interviewed further about the business – where I saw it going, when I started etc. and was invited to the semi finals in Dublin, where I set up a stand and got interviewed by 3 different judges.
I was doing my homework a few weeks later when my mother came into my room. She had gotten a phone call from Shinawil, the production company behind Dragons Den, saying I had gotten through, and would be filmed a few weeks later in front of the 5 Dragons!
I spent the following weeks meticulously preparing my pitch, practising over and over until it was perfect. The night before I was due to go on the show, I was practising my pitch in front of my uncle, and I completely blanked, so that morning I was very nervous.
When I arrived that morning, I went through my pitch with one of the mentors there, and got everything set up. I then waited around for my slot to come up. It eventually came up, and I walked up the stairs, heart pounding in my chest, focusing on not tripping up the stairs! I walked into the room, and I looked at the Dragons, then looked toward my stand. I made my pitch for my business to the Dragons, and it went very well. However, after I was done and had asked the Dragons to come up and view my products, there was a long pause where nobody did anything, so I thought I had done something wrong. In reality, this was just the norm, to let the directors get the right angles for when the Dragons came up.
The Dragons then started asking their questions, and I happily answered them all. What you won’t have seen on television is some of the criticism I got from the Dragons; this was mostly cut from the final edit. However, I never lost sight of what I believed – that my products were unique and of high quality, and I think the Dragons saw that too when I responded to some of their criticism. A lot of people have asked me if I felt I was done when all the Dragons started dropping out, and the honest answer is no. I don’t think I really had time to be worrying about whether I was going to get the bursary and mentoring, because I was kept on my feet with the questions.
Another aspect that surprises people is that when you see Peter Casey saying he’d like to give me the bursary, that isn’t the actual time he said it – he had said it about a minute before that, however Gavin Duffy had interrupted him by accident, so the director stopped everything and asked Peter to say those brilliant words again. The sense of relief was incredible – I had gotten through the interview and got what I wanted!
As I was guided out by one of the directors, I turned around and saw Peter had gone up and was admiring my clock – a potential sale? I met my mother, and phoned my father to tell him the good news, and everyone was delighted. I was having dinner a short while later in Taylors Three Rock, where Dragons’ Den is filmed, where Peter came over to me and asked to buy one of my clocks as a corporate gift.
In the weeks following filming, I was bound to secrecy by a contract I had to sign. Nobody could know that I was on Dragons’ Den until I was allowed say it, and nobody could know the result until it actually aired. I was invited to a premier screening of Junior Dragons’ Den in the DoubleTree hotel in Dublin. Here, I got to meet all of my fellow contestants, and see the final program. It was an incredible night, even though I found it hard to listen to myself on telly!
I’d like to thank all the team from Shinawil, the production company behind Dragons’ Den, for being so kind and helpful to me. I’d also like to thank Bank Of Ireland, who were heavily involved in Junior Dragons’ Den especially, funding the premier night, and giving me support throughout the experience. It wouldn’t be fair to not thank my family, who put up with me going over and over my pitch, day and night. I’d especially like to thank my mam and dad, without your support, not only would Junior Dragons’ Den not have happened, but my passion that I’m so lucky to call work wouldn’t have happened either.