UP TO SCRATCH IN THE DRAGON’S DEN

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Camilla Good­man camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Camil­la_Good­man

THE founders of Bucks business are cel­e­brat­ing af­ter snap­ping-up a top busi­ness­man to in­vest in their com­pany on Dragons Den.

Buck­ing­hamshire Business First mem­bers Snaf­fling Pig Co stepped into the spot­light of the Dragon’s Den to pitch for in­vest­ment in their grow­ing business, in an episode shown on BBC 2 last on Sun­day (Au­gust 7).

Af­ter more than an hour spent de­liv­er­ing their pitch and be­ing in­ter­ro­gated by the Dragons, old friends and the Snaf­fling Pig’s founders Nick Cole­man and An­drew Allen walked away with a £70,000 in­vest­ment.

“Nor­mally when you’re pitch­ing for in­vest­ment it takes place over a sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod of time,” ex­plains Nick Cole­man, the CEO Snaf­fling Pig Co, a business which started with a bet and £500.

“With Dragon’s Den it’s one time and you’re done. It cer­tainly put us out­side of our com­fort zone, but al­though it was a tough process we tried to en­joy it.”

Of course it helps to en­joy it when you man­age to tame one of the Dragons and im­press them enough to se­cure an in­vest­ment.

Mr Cole­man and chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer Mr Allen made a great impression on Moon­pig.com founder Nick Jenk­ins, who in­vested £70,000 for a 20 per cent stake in Snaf­fling Pig Co, with the op­tion for Snaf­fling Pig to buy back 10 per cent of the Dragons’ hold­ing at a later date

Nick Jenk­ins’ ex­pe­ri­ence with the on­line greet­ing card site is one thing that par­tic­u­larly de­lights the Snaf­fling Pig duo, given their am­bi­tions for de­vel­op­ing the on­line gift side of their brand.

They are cer­tainly com­ing from a good place in that re­gard, with their Crack­ling and Ale Gift Box named the In­de­pen­dent’s best Fa­ther’s Day al­co­holic gift for 2016.

In an un­usu­ally pos­i­tive but roller­coaster pitch, the business re­ceived some ex­tremely pos­i­tive feed­back from the other Dragons in­clud­ing Deb­o­rah Meaden, who ad­mit­ted that she’d be “tak­ing the prod­uct home with her” and Sarah Willing­ham who of­fered to stock the prod­uct across her venues.

Af­ter four dragons de­clared them­selves out, it was Mr Jenk­ins who quite lit­er­ally put his money where his mouth was.

On the de­ci­sion to en­ter the Den, Mr Allen said: “It was a very much a con­sid­ered de­ci­sion to go on the show, as it’s the kind of en­vi­ron­ment where if you’ve got holes in your of­fer­ing you’ll get found out – in front of an au­di­ence of mil­lions to boot. But, as an FMCG business, a room full of Dragons is a pig­gin’ amaz­ing place to be.

“We know we’re not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea and you 100 per cent see that dur­ing our pitch, but that’s half the fun of the prod­uct – we love be­ing some­one’s oc­ca­sional guilty plea­sure.”

How­ever, Mr Cole­man said that the de­ci­sion to try their luck on Dragon’s Den was not borne out of the de­sire for pub­lic­ity, nor en­tirely from the need for in­vest­ment, but from some­thing that mat­ters a great deal to them – learn­ing.

“Yes, Nick Jenk­ins can be a great fig­ure­head for Snaf­fling Pig and yes he can open doors for us,” says Mr Cole­man, “but we re­ally value the men­tor­ing role he can play for us too. We love learn­ing from peo­ple, get­ting ad­vice and ap­ply­ing it. Ev­ery day is a school day for us. Since we se­cured his in­vest­ment we’ve met with Nick a few times and he’s al­ways been there for us on the end of the phone or over email. He’s been re­ally hands on, he wants to help us grow the brand in all the right places.”

Mr Cole­man also pays trib­ute to an­other great source of learn­ing he has ben­e­fited from.

He added: “I’m not pay­ing lip ser­vice when I say that we wouldn’t be in this po­si­tion if it wasn’t for the sup­port of lo­cal Growth Hub Buck­ing­hamshire Business First. The news­let­ters and web­site are re­ally use­ful and are an­other great learn­ing tool for us.”

Though it is an in­tim­i­dat­ing route to take in or­der to se­cure in­vest­ment, Mr Cole­man highly rec­om­mends go­ing on Dragon’s Den, but has this ad­vice: “You must be very well pre­pared be­fore you go on there. I’ve seen the ill-pre­pared step in front of the Dragons be­fore and es­sen­tially kill their business off in one dev­as­tat­ing, high pro­file mo­ment.”

But with their prod­ucts on sale at 900 lo­ca­tions and hav­ing not long since branched out with their beer range, the fu­ture is bright for the Ayles­bury-based Snaf­fling Pig Co. as long as they keep their trot­ters on the ground.

“Ev­ery day can be a bat­tle, so we’ll con­tinue to keep our heads down and work hard,” vows Mr Cole­man.

“We’re con­tin­u­ally gear­ing up for the fu­ture and mak­ing sure we’re pre­pared for what­ever hap­pens next.”

They’re in The founders of Bucks based business Snaf­fling Pig Co Nick Cole­man and An­drew Allen with Dragon and Moon­pig founder Nick Jenk­ins

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