Out With the Dragons, In With the Crowd: The New Show in Town
A couple of million people will have seen me and my business partner Joe pitch on Dragons’ Den last week and, despite an interesting offer, leave without any investment. We weren’t the first and won’t be the last to turn down an offer in the Den. But what’s interesting in our case, is what happened next.
Around 2.4m people saw us as Dragons’ Den was screened and many millions more were exposed to our story from activist viewers commentating on Twitter and Facebook and, from this community, we have found hundreds of new investors into our business. The Crowd have delivered us the backing that the Dragons did not and, on reflection, if I had to pick between the collective voice, buying power and wisdom of the Crowd against the individual track record of any given Dragon, I’d take the former every time.
We publicly launched our crowd-funding campaign as the show went to air and were fully funded 18 hours later. A week later we were double funded and I can close the campaign tomorrow and have that cash on it’s way to our bank account with very little turnaround time. Had we done a deal on the Den three months ago, there’s a decent chance we’d still be negotiating our way through due diligence, unsure of whether a deal would actually happen. Business has changed.
It feels fitting that on the week that Duncan Bannatyne announces his retirement from Dragon’s Den that we featured on the first show of his last season and then launched a campaign that’s epitomized how far the investment marketplace is shifting. Duncan’s retirement feels all of a sudden less about him as an individual and more about the changing nature of business.
It was the second time I’d felt that way about Duncan. The first was three months earlier on set, standing under the lights in the Den. It is the most nerve-wracking adrenaline rush you’ll ever experience and as Duncan failed to grasp what we did on the third explanation, I was starting to worry that my nerves had left me incoherent.
“No, no, sorry if I wasn’t clear… You upload your instagram photo on our website and we print it, frame it and deliver it.”
Clear, concise, eminently understandable – this time I had explained it right and he’d easily get it. Right? He just stared at me, eyebrows furrowed. I suddenly wondered if he actually knew what Instagram was.
To put this in perspective, this man has is a hero. He has an OBE for his charity work, he’s built a career and untold businesses within it from scratch, employed thousands and invested in supporting scores of new businesses. He’s a true entrepreneur and I couldn’t care less about whether he knows what Instagram is (I’m sure he does) – it’s no discredit to him either way. But it does make him less relevant to me as an investor today. And it makes him less relevant to a lot of businesses like mine.
The world’s moving and the power to dictate what makes it to market is no longer in the hands of so few but is transferring into the collective will of the many. The many are tech savvy, fast moving and in many ways have a longer term outlook: a strategy of getting to profitability quickly is being replaced by customer acquisition not just on tech businesses but across industrues. Today’s crowd of investors care about brand building over instant profits and they will judge you not by broadsheet articles or billboard campaigns but by how many of your customers align themselves publically as your advocates.
Business is changing and for an organization like ours, that is only a good thing.
If you want to invest in Frame Again, please visit https://www.seedrs.com/startups/frame-again
Jake Hayman is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Frame Again. His personal blog is at http://brookfieldgroup.wordpress.com/