Want to be an entrepreneur? Watch BBC’s Dragons Den. Think Like an Investor

Want to be an entrepreneur? Watch BBC’s Dragons Den. Think Like an Investor


Prateek Srivastava

Prateek Srivastava

30 Jan 2016, 12:49 — 7 min read

With India ranking at number three in the world of startups, we should now be having at least one budding entrepreneur in a radius of every 15 kilometers. This math brings to light the fact that there is a canvas of business plans and proposals being prepared and revised on a daily basis, so that it becomes the perfect pitch.


A pitch that is not only profitable but is also backed by an idea or a plan that is sacred and probably the next big thing as per the entrepreneur. Many a times, we are so guarded of our idea that we go to the extent of drafting a Non-Disclosure Agreement for the investor, in fear that they might rob or duplicate it. Now keeping all your emotional investment and aspirations aside, “if you really think that your idea is that easy to rob then you do not have business”.


The above statement holds true because if someone can rob you off your business DNA or dream then you have not worked hard enough on it and probably it is not “the next big thing”. Then someone else with a better team and resources would work and pitch it to the same investor. So, why should the investor put money on you?


Here is where you have to create that differentiating factor as the same product/service can be attempted by a larger magnitude of resources but it is to be incomplete without your zeal, efforts, insights and vision.


You need to make the investor put money on you; the business idea and finances are secondary. You need to show your value and how your absence can be damaging to the proposed product/service and why no other can pull it off or do it as good as you.


I personally have learnt this lesson very early in my career. During my days as an employee, I always knew that I would become an entrepreneur, my ambition was so strong that I would continuously work towards enhancing my skill set by learning from my counterparts in diverse fields and adding value to my company.


Being impressed by my efforts, the founder of the Stern Advisory Group discussed business expansion prospects with me and invested a generous capital on me for leading Stern Advisory India (APAC & MENA). I started with one digit equity and in a span of four years, I am standing at two digit equity with a sound technological spread.


The lesson learnt from this move was that in order to be an entrepreneur, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the financier i.e. investor how they think, their basis for investment, their behaviour and most importantly what makes them tick?


Now we can have varying answers to this; some would say that it is the business figures i.e. financial projections, others would say that it your promised customer base, product/service feasibility, competition, commercialization; the guesses are endless.


But what really makes your good idea a bad one and vice-versa is your attitude! And that is it. Come to think of it, you are born with it, it is unalterable and affects your every business move. Rest everything else is based on it. So that is exactly what every investor wants to assess.


One example of such an assessment is the famous British television series of Dragons’ Den - where each contestant (entrepreneur/inventor) has three minutes to pitch to the dragons (investors) to invest in their business idea/proposition. A small brief of the investors and their investment patterns is as follows:


Peter Jones - He is someone who has a staged approach while considering an investment, having an appetite for new business concepts, understanding and coming to terms with financials and complexities therein, along with examining the reason for product creation and its feasibility.


Sara Willingham - A warming smile and intuitive mind. She sees right through the product and interrogates the level of your business commitment. Alongside taking into account the business facts and figures, she looks for an eminent product branding and a neat product line. However, if she is not convinced even of a single aspect then investment is out of the option.


Deborah Meaden - An astute to the core, she does not invest in a business if she does not understand it. You need to get everything right with her - product positioning and presentation, especially patents and trademarks, product authenticity and its commercialisation aspects. Moreover, she can see right through your business ethics if you try to pull a fast one for her.


Touker Suleyman - I recall his calmness and clear thought process from a lunch in London along with my partner. The same is demonstrated on the television series where he prioritises commitment and focus for business success. He believes in the need for a sound management and refrains from being all over the place. Additionally, his wide network of global contacts provide him with sound business knowledge which is a boon for any budding entrepreneur.


Nick Jenkins - A practical investor. He sees through the feasibility of the proposed product and offers avenues in online enterprises and marketing. In his words, you need to provide a solution to an existing problem and not the other way round. Moreover, he focuses on a business idea that strengthens the current revenue system which can fuel more financial avenues as well and believes in creating a leading brand from scratch.


The above-mentioned are some examples which not only give us a brief insight into an investor’s mind but also share a clear message - it is good to have dreams and the will to pursue them; however, in order to achieve them you have to be realistic, for which you need to spend a good 3 to 6 months on research, strategic planning and building a sound knowledge base as to how investors operate?


The major lesson being that your attitude reflects on your product line and business decisions. Keep that right, have your figures literally on your fingers and keep your mind open for ideas. In the end, it is not only about carrying the tag of an entrepreneur but also maintaining it for which every criticism cannot be taken negatively. In fact, it has to be taken in the right spirit as an advice and worked upon.


Article and image source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/want-entrepreneur-watch-dragonsden-bbc-think-like-prateek-srivastava


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Prateek Srivastava

Prateek Srivastava, a post-graduate from Middlesex University is a Business intelligence specialist skilled in accessing the latest methods of pre-investment investigations....

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