My Dragon’s Den Experience

The Present ClubHave you ever wondered what it is really like to enter the Dragon’s Den? Today, one mum – Georgette Hewitt – shares her unforgettable experience of her pitch to the ‘Dragons’ as she shared a business idea that has become a reality. We have ten £10 online vouchers for The Present Club to giveaway. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post.

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The Beginning

When I gave up my job in the City to give birth to my first child, starting a new business was the last thing on my mind! I was determined to enjoy some quality time at home but after my daughter started to get invited to birthday parties, I came up with an idea for a business and I couldn’t get it off my mind.

Parties often are attended by 30+ children, each bringing a gift, and with average present expenditure at £8 that’s £240 on novelty/token gifts. I felt that if there was a free service whereby friends and family could all chip into a main present, then it would give a child the opportunity to receive something that they might not otherwise be able to afford, whilst making life easier for their friends.

I began my market research, asking children if they would forfeit opening small birthday presents in exchange for a more expensive gift like an X-Box or perhaps a trampoline and an outstanding 97% said they would. Parents also agreed that on the flipside it would be more convenient to contribute to a present online than shop blind for presents for their children’s friends. They also highlighted the concept as a greener option too.

The present club logoSo taking the astounding feedback into account, I came up with a company name, commissioned developers and found suppliers and in 2009 The Present Club.co.uk was born!

Auditioning for Dragons’ DenThe Present Club

How do I get my brand out there with little capital? Despite being scared to death of public speaking I decided to apply for Dragons’ Den and within a week I was asked to start the rigorous auditioning process which lasted weeks. Finally I was told I had been allocated a slot on the programme!

The Day of Filming

The day began at 6.30am, I was escorted to a holding room with the other candidates. One of the producers eliminated my main prop (which as a result made my pitch redundant) so I had to change my pitch, disaster!

One by one the candidates were picked to enter the ‘Den’. After filming, the candidates are escorted straight out of Pinewood, so you don’t get to see how anyone else gets on and mobiles are forbidden. Then, after 12 hours of being in the holding room, seeing fellow candidates leave and not return, it was finally my turn.

Make-up and hair, I felt sick to the stomach.

The Pitch

At the bottom of the stairs, I was told by one of the producers they would count to 3 and then I was to climb the stairs, reveal my props that were covered by a black sheet, stand on the point marked with an ‘X’ and start my pitch.

3, 2, 1, go. I could barely breathe, I walked onto the set, surrounded bright lights and 20 camera crew and then attempted to pull the black sheet off of the toys, but the sheet got stuck under one of my props!

It was not a good start. I stood and began my pitch, but without thinking, I started reciting my original pitch, the one that referred to my eliminated prop.

I tried over and over to pick up where I left off but my memory felt like it had been erased, I went into panic mode, the ‘Dragons’ sat with unreadable expressions and I asked if I could start again. One of the ‘Dragon’s’ said abruptly ‘No!’ and I crumbled.

Peter Jones attempted to break the silence but Hillary, said “Give her some more time…” I was thinking “Please don’t give me any more time, please can someone just break this painful silence!” Eventually Peter started asking me questions which took me into my comfort zone, thank you Peter!

The ice was broken and finally my two favourite Dragons, Peter and Theo put offers on the table. After much consideration I decided to work with both Dragons and even received more than I had asked for…. £80,000 for a 30% stake.

Since then we have transformed the website to cater for all ages and occasions including weddings and online whip-rounds (very popular for teachers) and it’s all down to my unforgettable day in the ‘Den’!

The present club - gifts for the teacher

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Win…win…win

Check out the website – The Present Club – here.

Georgette has kindly given us ten £10 vouchers for The Present Club to giveaway to ten lucky winners. To enter simply leave a comment below and from all comments received by midnight on 31st May we will pick out ten lucky winners. Usual Netmums terms and conditions apply.

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54 Responses to My Dragon’s Den Experience

  1. Jayne swift says:

    Lovely post and great idea, gives inspiration for other mums out there with new ideas thanks

  2. Jay Carroll says:

    sounds like a fab idea! x

  3. Kathryn MacKinnon Cook says:

    This is a great idea! It can always be a bit awkward doing a whip around so this is fantastic.
    Very interesting insight into the Dragon’s Den process.

  4. Karen McKay says:

    What a great idea, it’s always impossible to know what to buy!

  5. Tobi brown says:

    Wow is all i can say i mean it sounds absolutely scary but you did it & it’s someone like you who helps others after they have had kids well done & i wish you all the success in the world x

  6. Sarah G says:

    Brilliant concept the dragons were right to invest, I’ll be checking it out for my little girls next birthday

  7. Nicola Biven says:

    What a brilliant idea, as a parent I struggle to even get to the shop to buy gifts for my daughters friends let alone try to think of something they might like/use. Likewise my daughter gets lots of presents and they aren’t always something she would use so they gather dust, would be so much better to get something she actually wants ! Well done in getting your dragons offer !!

  8. Good for you – great idea and nerve! I used to work in the City so know how much you’d miss using your brain. Very well done 🙂

  9. Tracy says:

    A Brilliant idea, I myself get annoyed buying gifts for my children’s friends as the budget is smaller, and you don’t know the child so its guess work, I would much rather use this! Extra Congratulations on getting the support of the dragons!

  10. Jemma Nichol says:

    What a fantastic idea! Saves the hassle of present buying and the child receives something they accually want! Would definately consider this for our wedding next year! Well done 🙂 x

  11. Emily says:

    Wow, what a great business idea! I always struggle to work what to buy for my daughters’ friends’ birthday parties. Well done on getting through your pitch and securing the sponsorship from two Dragons. Very inspring story.

  12. Madhu says:

    I remember watching this episode on Dragons Den and thought what a fantastic idea.I was sure you’d receive a few offers if not from all of them. It’s only parents with kids can understand the dilemma of buying gifts for friends from school ,some of whom we’ve never seen. Well Done to you and all the very best for your future.

  13. Fiona Willmott says:

    I agree. A good way to avoid everyone’s house being full of unwanted gifts!

  14. Donna Malcolm says:

    Well done for surviving the Den! This is is a great idea and I plan to use it for my daughters birthday party and at the end of term for a gift for the class teacher.

  15. Laura Connor says:

    A great idea… My little boys one now I hope in future years and birthdays parties become the ‘thing’ to do I will be using your site. #makingmumsjobeasier

  16. jat4 says:

    A brilliant experience in the Den, lucky you. I should try and do the same thing for my Tae Kwon Do Academy in Swansea. My book ‘My Story, by a female Tae Kwon Do Master, Jenny Treasure, comes out in June and highlights this dynamic martial art and how it is suffering from all the choices and fads that are out there. Well run clubs contribute to the stability and well-being of societies generally and need more recognition.

  17. amanda looker says:

    This a great, no more unwanted gifts, wasted money, helping to save the planet whilst giving mums a few minutes to their day to spend with the little ones, or a well deserved cuppa. Brilliant well done

  18. Great idea-wish I’d thought of that!

  19. Vanessa Odonnell says:

    Well done, I trembled with you as I read it!

  20. kirstin leighton says:

    great idea! i always struggle ti think of presents the kids would like that wont just get played with once and discarded. This means they get exactly what they want!

  21. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown and commented:
    Very well done.

  22. pamela says:

    Well done, so cool. I always get a little stuck when buying class presents especially if you don’t know all the children that well. This way we can avoid the 15 boxes of lego for the 5th birthday and choose a major present.
    Thanks for idea and the blog.

  23. Katy K says:

    What a great idea- especially for those children you don’t know very well and are stuck for ideas on. Also a very inspiring story of taking an idea through to fruition and making it a success, especially good to hear that Georgette managed to come out so well despite a shaky start in the Den- I think that standing there must be terrifying!

  24. Allison B says:

    Far more discrete than hanging round the classroon/playground hoping to collect money for the teachers end of year present.

  25. Well done 🙂 I don’t like the idea myself, I think there is sweetness in a little gift from a friend but I am in the minority 🙂

  26. Nicola says:

    Interesting idea, of to look at the website now

  27. Wow, this is a great idea! I wish I’d known about this before now.

  28. Samantha Guest says:

    This is my first year in the party season with a two year old and buying so many different gifts has been a real struggle. I think this is such an excellent concept and is so much easier for buying mums but also so much nicer for the birthday girl/boy to receive a ‘main’ present. I personally also think it teaches them early on that parties are about sharing it with friends and its not all about the gifts.

  29. Kim sanderson says:

    I think this is a fantastic idea! Takes so much pressure off when attending parties:) has this show already been aired? I do watch it most of the time but may have missed it:(

    Well done georgette 🙂

  30. Thank you! Please tell your friends!! :))) xx

  31. Sharon says:

    Nice work! I must say I admire the idea for two reasons:
    1. Not only that i couldn’t think of starting a new business after the birth of my DD, i couldn’t hold one logical thought in my mind..(so tired..!)
    2. Too many “small” gifts are never equal to one good quality present.
    So well done!

  32. Aimee Seward says:

    Fab idea love it

  33. yvonne thomson says:

    sounds like an excellent idea! Well done you!

  34. wendy says:

    An absolute fantastic idea!Congratulations and Well done Georgette!

  35. Oh my this sounds like a super idea. So glad that the terrifying ordeal was worth it!

  36. Fiona says:

    Great idea, I’m a teacher and would prefer to receive 1 present rather than individual ones if people wish to thank me.

  37. Tatiana Geen says:

    I really enjoyed reading about Georgette’s experience in Dragons Den. It is very inspirational and I envy the courage and perseverance in achieving the goal. Reading the article made me think that everything is possible if you really want something. The idea itself is a great idea and I’m sure is appreciated among parents. I personally love shopping for presents and always put a lot of thought and effort into it. But for many parents who don’t have time it would be a great way to save time and know that their contribution towards gift makes the child’s big dream come true.

  38. Elsie macpherson says:

    A good idea, though it can be socially awkward to ask for “money towards xxx” rather than allow a guest to spend as they wish. A £5 gift can seem nice where £5 in a card (or online) can seem measly. I didn’t see this on dragons den but when I do see products from the programme come out I usually try them. (I have the spiller spoon, a trunki, used the online antique valuing service etc). I have been to three bjrthday parties with my son this year and it is hard to buy a present for a child you don’t know.

  39. Gill Paton says:

    Congratulations that’s a huge acheivement, I don’t think I could get up those stairs in the first place- fear stricken, never mind pitch. Great idea too, It is a worry when you buy for your children’s friends, and a waste of money if they didn’t like it etc.

  40. I would love the chance to win one of the gift cards!
    anna

  41. Jane says:

    It’s an intriguing idea! Weddings, grown up parties, baby showers etc! Love it. Xx

  42. Trupti says:

    What a brilliant idea well done!! Makes present buying so much easier.

  43. fiona says:

    loved, the insight into behind the scenes at dragons den, amazed the entrepreneurs don’t just crumble under the pressure

  44. Nikki Thomas says:

    Well done on getting the Dragons on board. I love watching Dragons Den.

  45. Patty Young says:

    Would work with family as its easier to ask them than friends! Great idea though!

  46. Sue Page says:

    Wonderful idea, an inspiration to us mums attempting to work at home!! Sue

  47. Tina Atkinson says:

    Something I’d definatley use. Great idea. Well done you!

  48. brummiemummy says:

    Wow, what a genius idea! It’s one of those things that sounds so simple and makes you wonder why it didn’t already exist. I wish you every success 🙂 A really interesting insight into the Den too.

  49. yummymummy says:

    Fab idea & a great insight into dragons den.

  50. Stephanie says:

    Really great idea like a wedding list for kids I know I would be comfy offering family the service but a bit unsure about friends but would love to give it a go and see people’s reactions ! Ps would love a gift card good luck in your venture x

  51. Camilla says:

    This is such a good idea, there is so much rubbish for sale for kids and as they get older choosing a gift get harder!

  52. Gill Downes says:

    What a great business idea -and well done for breaking out of your comfort zone & going for it. Truly Inspirational!

  53. Amy says:

    This is such a brilliant concept. And I love the website. I don’t know how you survived the den but all credit to you for doing so and getting the dosh! Will be spreading the word. Well done Georgette. A motivated mum, indeed!

  54. Shivam says:

    wow .. great idea to gift something meaningful by group of people. Congratulations on ur success. It takes courage to visit dragons and you did it 🙂 Truly inspirational. well done !

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