June/July 2021

Enter the new Dragon

Entrepreneur and author Steven Bartlett is to join Dragons’ Den, replacing Tej Lalvani to become the youngest Dragon in the programme’s history. The 28-year-old will join Dragons Peter Jones (55), Deborah Meaden (62), Touker Suleyman (67) and Sara Davies (36) for the 19th series of the BBC One programme. Steven is set to become the youngest ever Dragon, taking over from Tej Lalvani for the 19th series. He is the co-founder and former CEO of listed social media firm Social Chain, published author and podcaster. The young entrepreneur first launched the company from his Manchester bedroom aged 22, and went on to take it public at the age of 27. The social media firm has a market value of over £300million. As part of their Innovation Investment Index report, the investment experts at money.co.uk have discovered which of the Dragons have made the most savvy investments, as they welcome the newcomer into the Den for season 19.

Dragon’s Den League Table: Solo Deals of Past and Present
Peter Jones is the most prolific investor in the den with 68 deals, but on average his equity stake is only around 25%.

James Caan, who appeared during seasons 5 and 8 scored 11 solo deals in the den, with an average investment of £100,000 and 35% equity stake per deal, making him the ex-dragon who secured arguably the best deals.

Tej Lalvani (who Steven Bartlett will replace) made 20 solo investments with an average equity of 26%.

Deborah Meaden has the next highest number of solo deals at 62, but secures 20% on average per deal.

Rachel Elnaugh from seasons 1 and 2 made just three investments for £229,000, with 37% equity across the deals.

GM Business Connect asked previous Dragons ‘The Godfather of Small Businesses’ Theo Paphitis and Jenny Campbell about how they felt about their first appearance on Dragon’s Den.

Theo commented: “When I was approached by the Dragons’ Den production team, I was initially a little unsure as to whether to go for it, even though it was potentially a major breakthrough for me. I have a fun outlook on life and business, and felt the show was way too serious at the time – but, how wrong can you be? I was nervous on my first day in the Den, but I was amazed by how quickly I took to it. Mind you, I had spent most of my working life interviewing people who had come to me with their business proposals! What hit me was that there’s nothing fake about Dragons’ Den – it’s real in every sense of the word. We haven’t a clue who – or what – might be coming up those stairs, and the pitches are very often much, much longer than they appear in the TV edit. I learnt very quickly that it was the person, rather than a flashy impressive pitch, that was the thing to look for. I looked for that passion, that sparkle in the eye, that can-do attitude and I was prepared to see through a supposed lack of experience and qualifications. What’s important is if a person has heart and can pick up things quickly. It’s that passion and determination which more often than not gets a business through the dark days and drives it forward. The Den offers a world of opportunity and was full of great moments for me.”

Jenny observed: “I remember getting the call inviting me to the Den and being so excited and yet full of trepidation too! Walking onto the set on the first day was quite surreal. I loved every minute of it, especially shaking hands on a deal, getting to work straight away with the entrepreneurs and helping them to shape and grow their business. I’m sure Steven will be a great success and will have an immediate fan club!”

Jenny Campbell
Theo Paphitis