Well I did it and survived! I am talking about a brief appearance on Dragons Den on 2nd September with my colleague, Jonathan, a talented product designer.
It became apparent to me, halfway through the interrogation, that the dragons didn't really get the invention. Not really a surprise as people only seem to fully appreciate how it works when they see the video on You Tube - just tap "squeeze with ease!" into google and up it pops.
I also had to smile to myself when the dragons held forth on protecting the environment and green issues. A quick perusal of their lifestyles will show that some of them are driving sports cars with 4 litre engines! Hmmm pot, kettle, black methinks! There is no doubt in my mind that Squeeze with ease! addresses the common concern of getting out the last drop. In a £25 tube of medicinal or cosmetic cream that 10% represents £2.50 in savings! More than that it is about the satisfaction of getting those extra few applications and knowing the tube is completely empty with a cleaner tube for recycling. The dragons were concerned about the size of the device. What they failed to understand is that we were showing them a proof of concept prototype. We wanted the dragons money to invest in a production tool to make proper samples for companies to use in trial lines. In fact, we do have that money set aside ourselves but it is the expertise and the doors that the dragons open that was the real investment we need!
Although we did not convince the dragons (this time!) it was a fascinating and enjoyable experience.
Everyone wonders how they are going to hold up in the den and, to be honest, until you are standing there in the spotlight, you have no real idea. There is just the one shot at the pitch and then the questions start. Before going in, Jonathan and I had worked out a strategy. He would take the business and technical questions and I would say where we were with it and cover the consumer angles. In reality, it was a case of having to think on your feet and dodge the verbal darts coming at you from all sides. Naturally, the dragons are very self confident, sometimes charming, and always forceful! They also bore easily so you have to keep them interested. Ultimately, we managed to hold our own in the den - quite a relief! This appearance will alert more companies and consumers to an innovation that could revolutionize the tube industry by getting it to the wider audience.
As a footnote, very few people will appreciate what an effort the production team make to ensure that everything goes smoothly. And whilst they have no influence on the den they do offer tea and sympathy if the grilling is a long one. A straw poll amongst them revealed a surprising number of the back office staff cut tubes open - hair gel, toothpaste, creams - and not just the women. This was encouraging because although the dragons were unconcerned about the waste product left behind, it definitely resonated at grass roots levels. In the credit crunch every little matters.
So thank you very much to Davina and Glenn and, in particular, Michael Hannay, for helping us negotiate the Dragons Den and for the kindness and patience shown to us on the day and later when we were selected to appear on the programme. I do recommend any would be entrepreuner to apply. A word of warning though - make sure you do a commercial Q and A session with good informed friends so that you are ready for anything the dragons might throw at you! Good Luck!
Today I met someone who reminded me why being in the medical profession is a privelidge and a delight. Dr Marc Spinoza is a cardiologist who not only wants the best for his patients but has invented a unique and simple device that prevents all kinds of intravenous and other lines being dislodged. The Braidlock is efficient simple and cost effective.
Marc buzzes with enthusiasm and energy. In the brief time we had together to discuss his invention he fielded numerous calls with sparky humour, kindness and the unerring expertise of a dedicated physician. As I left Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he works, I pondered why a bright, committed and personable consultant had to spend so much energy convincing the right people that his invention mattered. Surely it was self evident? His colleagues loved it. It had applications beyond the original vision - climbing, swimming and other areas could take the technology and adapt it for specific purpose. I asked Marc about his long term vision. And his answer was that he wanted to create national respites centres for the parents of chronically ill children allowing them time out to regroup and to re-energise without compromising the care the children needed. Something in me stirred.Fear dominates where children are involved.
My youngest daughter was born prematurely at Queen Charlottes Hospital. She was whisked up to the neonatal unit and spent over two weeks being ventilated and monitored. In that time I was housed in a specially funded flat adjoining the unit and given as much time as I needed to bond and to adapt to the circumstances in which I found myself. I will always be grateful to the staff and the private facilities that made my stay not only comfortable but allowed me to understand what was happening in a thoughtful, enlightening and factual manner. Without it, my life would have been so much harder and more fraught.
Marc Spinoza is a rare breed. He wants to help make a difference to children and to parents. Investors have recognized this, but now it is time that the wider world steps up to the plate ands acknowledges the efforts of people like Marc. When our children become sick we expect nothing but but the best. In short, we would do anything it takes to make them well. Marc does not play on this, he has children of his own, but he understands only too well the effort parents make and the toll it takes.
If you do one thing today I hope it is to take the time to post or to log on to Marc's or the GOS website www.sull-ltd.co.uk and to thank this fine doctor who has dedicated so many years to an invention that will benefit so may patients and others.