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Barely half of the businesses on Dragon's Den got funded

A new study (opens in new tab) has found only half of the businesses that got funding on the first eleven series of Dragons' Den (opens in new tab) never saw a penny of the money pledged on screen to them by the multi-millionaire investors.

The research, carried out by UK mobile phone comparison site (opens in new tab), says of the 143 companies who successfully pitched for investment in the popular BBC2 programme, only 76 ever got any actual wonga from their on-screen 'Dragon' partners.

It’s not all bad news for businesses considering entering the Den, though - as a Dragon, or in some cases Dragons, are still a shareholder at 37.

The company says it found this out by a probe of data from Companies’ House as well as business owners who appeared on the show, combined with the Duedil API (opens in new tab) to produce a comprehensive resource of every winning pitch in the Den.

The company has released an app that shows for all the winning pitches the amount offered, the equity given up, if still in business and if the investment ever came through when the cameras stopped rolling. (Key financial metrics are also included, as well as videos to the original pitches for those who want to refresh their memory of the businesses in question.)

Key findings:

  • 76 out of the total 143 agreed investments never went through after the programme
  • 23 of the 143 business that successfully pitched are no longer trading
  • Of the £13m verbally pledged by the Dragons, only £5.8m was ever invested.

“I was quite shocked that so many businesses never got the investment money after the show and to be honest I'm glad I never heard back from the BBC when I applied to go on," commented Dan Forster, a Technology Expert at Tigermobile.

“I really think the problem lies with the BBC, who in a bid to keep the viewer count high have turned the show into a contrived affair that’s more about viewer entertainment than genuine business success. It’s heavily edited and they tend to pick pitchers who are TV friendly rather than those who are investable with a healthy balance sheet.

“Clearly not every business that was successful in the Den reveals every detail about their company during the pitch – minority shareholders, hidden debts and exaggerated numbers are the main reason that the investments don’t go through.”

Peter Jones is the most prolific investor, offering investment to 54 of the 143 businesses who successfully pitched on the show.