Patrick AdomBy Patrick Adom|June 3, 2022|11 Minutes|In Risk and Glory, Risk and Glory

Risk and Glory

"How hell can Dragon with fear and tears" 

Patrick Adom is a young entrepreneur born in Ghana and bred in London. He is currently trying to win his spurs as an entrepreneur with Very Puzzled – a company juggling with jigsaws.

It began as another humdrum day before the computer screen. I checked my website contact form entries, as I do each day.  It is usually full of spam, but on this day, there was a message with the subject line:  BBC Show.

I opened the message – intrigued.  The sender was a producer on the BBC’s Dragons Den programme and that they wanted to contact the owner of Very Puzzled to see if they would be interested in appearing.

I was a bit surprised and wondered if the email was fake.  I thought for a moment and replied.

Several months later, after completing lots of forms, signing lots of paperwork and providing a lot of documentation to prove who I am and my company’s credentials;the BBC was satisfied. I was shortlisted to appear on Dragons Den – the programme that gives entrepreneurs three minutes to pitch an idea to investors.  At this stage, I was still not guaranteed an appearance.

Yet a chance to be on air, was in the air; I worked and hoped.

Finally, on October 12 2020, I was invited to the BBC studio – a big achievement for my company, born a mere two years before.

I felt that this was validation of the hard work that I had put in and the quality of our products.

As I drove up to Manchester, on October 13, I was both very excited and nervous. I was practising my lines, as I drove, making sure that I remembered everything.  I was quizzing myself with questions that I thought that the Dragons might ask.

I allowed myself to dream about what could be if the Dragons invested; how proud my family would be of me. How my daughter might react and the prospect of taking her to school and seeing the look on the faces of the other parents and the teachers.

I had also prepared myself: if I didn’t get investment from a Dragon, would that mean that I didn’t have a good business, or that I wasn’t capable of running the business?  If the Dragons didn’t invest would that also put off other potential investors? Questions that chilled my blood.

I weighed up the pros and cons and concluded that even in the worst- case scenario being on the Dragons Den provides my business with great publicity; so long as I come across well and didn’t get torn apart by the Dragons.

I arrived in Manchester the night before. I helped the production team to setup my props late into the night. Iwas tired from the drive and my mind was racing.  I arrived at the hotel ready for something to eat; all the time, practising my lines. I made notes, confirming my financial figures and making sure that I remember everything. Then, the simple things: make eye contact, smile, stand tall, speak clearly.

I woke early, not sure I got much sleep. At the studios I met a lot of people with lots of questions and information. Then make up and a long wait.

Finally, I am called. I stand infront of the lifts; I remain calm. This could change my life.

The lift doors open and I see the Dragons before me in their den.  I expect someone to call me forward; no one does, so I move forward and stand in the spot marked out.  I expect someone to give me a signal, I stand and take a moment, I make eye contact with the first of three Dragons. This seems to take a long-time;so I make eye contact quickly with the remaining two.

I take a deep breath and begin my pitch. It goes well I have to tell myself to slow down and not make it sound too rehearsed.

I get to the end of my pitch. I notice that one of the Dragons smiles at the pun that I have made; a good sign ?

The first Dragon explains that she and her family love puzzles and she sells them in her shop. This is a good start.

Another Dragon asks about my expansion plans, I talk about our plans to add more products and to get licenses from other companies. He seems satisfied.

Another Dragon asks about intellectual property and after a slight misunderstanding she accepts that the company owns the design and copyrights to our work.  I think that this is a good sign.

A slight hiccup with one Dragon asking about our margins, they aren’t as much they would like, I provide options on how this can be improved, however, the first Dragon is out.  This is not what I expected.  Another Dragon sits quietly and completes the puzzle, this I think is a good sign.

A question is asked and I go over our financial figures and project figures, past figures are very small and I don’t get a chance to really explain the projected figures.

Two more Dragons drop out and the one dragon that I thought would be interested gives me advice, but no investment.

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The final Dragon begins to speak; in desperation I cut him off I want to say something impassioned and change his mind. I stumble out a sentence,or two,conscious that what I say may get edited out anyway thinking if I say too much my appearance won’t get on air.  The Dragon listens and then simply says he’s out.

I thank the Dragons, I turn and I leave, a Dragon says keep dreaming.  I find this a bit patronising.

The staff look disappointed for me. I drive home.

On the drive I think about the day and what I could have done better. I think back to my hopes for appearing on the show and how my family would be so proud of me.

In that moment I come to the realisation that my family are already proud of me and in that moment the emotions flood. I start to cry. I am not emotional and I don’t cry. Today, I cry and I cry.

The day was disappointing, but the love and support of my family softened the disappointment and gave me strength to continue with my business. As a very good friend said on these types of programs it’s actually the people that don’t win that end-up being the most successful.

Since appearing on Dragons Den, we have had an order from John Lewis – one of Britain’s biggest retailers –  we are working to get stocked by other large retailers. So, yes, I am still dreaming.