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Secrets to success – investors’ tips on how to prosper in Dragons’ Den

Future Worlds’ annual entrepreneurial extravaganza returns this weekend with the latest instalment of its growing Dragons’ Den series. The contest offers six aspiring student startups the opportunity to pitch for real investment from four seasoned Future Worlds Mentors in front of a live audience.

Student entrepreneurs have raised over £190,000 of investment from the competition’s first two events and, with record numbers applying to reach the Den this spring, the scene is set for an exciting afternoon’s action at The Cube in Union Southampton this Saturday.

Future Worlds Mentor Josh Valman will be joined by Dragons’ Den debutants Lohan Presencer and Andrew Doe in the hot seats, all ready to invest in return for equity in the startup schemes.

What is it the dragon investors will be looking for from the fledgling businesses this time?

Andrew Doe, co-founder of confetti.co.uk and serial entrepreneur, has transformed the performance of businesses through digital technologies in a diverse career helping brands like News Corp, Thomas Cook and Royal Mail.

He has a clear vision of what he is scouting for in the Den, following a recent spell in China. “I have spent the past two months in Shanghai and am so impressed by the pace, the level of technology sophistication and the scale of startups in China,” he explains. “I will be looking for those same qualities in the Dragons’ Den – pace, technology sophistication and scalability.”

Destined for investment? Meet the Dragons’ Den 2017 contestants

Dragons' Den contestants 2017This weekend’s entrants include a prolific YouTuber, a web scientist and three friends who joined forces after a University hackathon. A record number of submissions have been whittled down to six schemes for the live pitches. Read the finalists’ stories and the inspirations behind their startup ideas in an exclusive preview blog.

Ministry of Sound Chairman Lohan Presencer has overseen the rise of countless artists in his time at the iconic music brand and masterminded the company’s growth into multimedia entertainment business. He will be able to relate to the young startup founders’ plucky spirit when they take to the stage this weekend and has high standards for any businesses that would be seeking for him to become involved.

He says, “On Saturday I will be looking for businesses which achieve the following pre-requisites for investment:

– A brilliant and differentiated idea

– A clear addressable market

– Demonstrable performance

– A growth strategy

– Great people

“Most businesses fail because the fall down on one or more of the above targets. It takes a lot more to make a business a success but I consider the above to be the fundamentals.”

RPD International Managing Director Josh Valman is another dragon investor that is no stranger to the Den, having previously taken to the stage in 2015. “I will invest in teams,” he says. “Most startups don’t end up doing what they pitch, so I need to buy into you. I like timelines – what happens over the next 12 months to grow your company. If anything on that list doesn’t need funding, it needs to be done by Friday. I’ll check!”

Contestants can seek inspiration from past student successes in the Den before they face the intense lights of The Cube, but they can also draw confidence from predecessors whose pitches didn’t result in immediate investment. Indeed, Future Worlds Director Reuben Wilcock believes the entire process “unlocks opportunities” that drive entrepreneurs forward on their varying journeys.

Nanga Mai co-founder Filippo Massarelli may have reached the John Lewis JLab accelerator programme after his pitch in the Den, but it was merely a step on an exciting startup story – which he has blogged about on this site – and continues to this day in Rome. Sam Gillingham and Robbie Moore narrowly missed out on investment last spring, but have shared that the event directly opened other doors that led them to pursue a new entrepreneurial venture with Future Worlds Mentor Muj Choudhury.

Everything is set for a thrilling competition this Saturday. Some of the entrepreneurs could leave with the cash investment they need to kick start their ventures, while others will showcase the talent that will help them grow towards future successes. However they do this weekend, Future Worlds is proud to support them on their way and help realise these world-changing innovations.

Southampton Dragons’ Den will take place from 12.30pm to 5pm this Saturday in The Cube at Union Southampton on Highfield Campus. Book your space to attend this year’s event here.

Get in touch with Jon Nurse

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Jon Nurse

Content Manager
Future Worlds

Jon compiles the latest innovations, articles and interviews for futureworlds.com as the platform’s Content Manager. He is also helping researchers in Physical Sciences and Engineering impact society with their work as a Communications and Impact Officer at the University of Southampton. He previously worked as a Senior Reporter for the Trinity Mirror newsgroup.

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