What is your favorite thing about being a mentor?
It’s the opportunity to invest in small to medium sized businesses giving somebody that ultimate break and at the same time being able to help grow that business into something really exciting.
This year there are two new Mentors. How are you getting on with the new Mentoring?
I’m supposed to say it’s all fiery and there’s a lot of competitiveness but I genuinely think they’re fantastic. Both Tej and Jenny are a pleasure to have in the Den. The minute the cameras are turned on we are our own individual mentors and we are out for ourselves – but off camera they are a pleasure to be around.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs pitching on the show?
Know your onions. In other words because you’ve got two new mentorss you have to know what their backgrounds are, what their strengths and weaknesses are. Also come with a plan. When you’re in the Den [know] what is it you want to achieve and then practice for when you’re in the Den. Get it pitch perfect. The pitch has to be short, concise, to the point and most importantly you’ve got to get everything you want to say said in a very short space of time, in two minutes. You have to do it with confidence and make sure you smile. Business is about making money but it is also about having fun, so get your character across.
How important in your decision is the person pitching or are you just looking at the business?
They’re absolutely vital because people buy people first. What you’re doing is trying to build empathy and excitement but also it’s very much about you. We are questioning the business, the business model and the experience but also at the same time we’re looking to the person who is pitching – can you do what you’re saying you can, are you capable, are you believable? So many mistakes are made by not knowing your numbers, over exaggerating or not telling the truth. So just be genuine, be yourself and you’ve got a chance. The most frustrating thing is when someone doesn’t know the answer but gives you a nonsense answer – that’s when you know this isn’t going to work.
Do you have a specific business that you’re looking for?
No. I’m so varied now and I’ve got 28 businesses ranging from internet to clothing companies and experiences to tailcoats.
Do you have a dream business to invest in?
I haven’t seen someone yet walk into the Den with the same vibe and spirit as Levi Roots. I’m not suggesting everyone needs to get a guitar and sing a song but that charismatic way of coming in and engaging the mentors in their pitch by doing something different, I’m looking forward to seeing that again.
You’ve been a Mentor since 2005, what’s been your most memorable pitch in that time?
Ross from Bear Naked Foods was amazing. He had a back story and whilst he came in with his business I ended up investing in him as a person. It was an interesting one because we said lets create a business, we don’t know what it is yet but we’ll create something.
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