It’s not every day that you meet a startup that has not only appeared on a tv pitching program and not only survived but are on their way to becoming a household name like Pouch.

Pouch has developed a free Browser Extension that saves you time and money when shopping online. Their technology recognises the website that you are on, and then simply displays all the best available voucher codes for that store. This allows you to enjoy a seamless shopping experience where you can access the best discounts without ever leaving the website. It takes all of the hard work out of finding active discount codes.

There are currently over 3,000 retailers using Pouch’s including Topshop, Nike, ASOS, Argos, Ocado and The Body Shop. They’re Entrepreneurs to Watch and participants in the MassChallenge UK accelerator They have a successful business with a growing customer base and several successful funding rounds. But like most startups, they wanted to grow big and thus decided to appear on BBC’s Dragon Den.

Jonny Plein, Co-Founder and CFO, and Ben Corrigan, Co-Founder and Marketing Director, not only appeared but were able to offer a compelling businesses proposition. They were thus were offered 75K in investment from all the Dragons, something that has only once before in the show’s history. I spoke to Ben Corrigan,  to find out more. Corrigan emphasized that what you see on the screen is far from reality:

“The way it works, the BBC got in touch with us and suggested that we apply for the program”.  Apparently, when you see all the good companies they’re the ones that get asked rather than apply themselves.

“So we then did an online interview, telephone interview, and audition and then we did a very extensive due diligence process where they looked at every single document because the BBC don’t want to present a company that lies. So we had to give them all of our documents and pass the due diligence process and then we were given a film date and we filmed it. There are no stops, no toilet breaks. It’s as intense as any investor pitch”.

How it works

The filming process takes around three hours and is edited around for 15 minutes, and Corrigan offers sage advice to startup hopefuls considering taking the plunge.

“The time between when you film it and it screens is about four to five months and you do not want to spend all that time worrying about whether you are embarrassing yourself on national television”.

Corrigan stressed that companies also they need to know their financials inside and out and be able to answer any questions about them to the nth degree:

“If you fuck up, they will edit it down to the worst 15 mins. You’ll have four months of waiting for everyone you know- including family, friends, business colleagues and potential investors-to watch you fuck up on national television. Do not go on Dragon’s Den unless you completely believe in your business, are absolutely confident in your numbers, you respect those numbers and you can reiterate them with complete accuracy. If you lie about your numbers it will be very easily detected.

It’s inevitable of course, that a highly edited pitch will leave things out and edit for television. Corrigan explained that “When we went live millions watched and the biggest feedback was ‘oh, you don’t have a mobile product, you don’t have a tablet. I can’t believe they invested!’. If they saw the full three hours they would know we spent 45 minutes talking about our mobile proposition.”

They also failed to mention CTO and co-founder Vikram Simha, an essential member of the business team whose role was discussed at length on the program despite the depiction of a duo.

What happened next

Since their appearance on Dragon’s Dean, the company has enjoyed significant attention. According to Plein and Corrigan: “The biggest benefit we actually experienced from appearing on the show was the amount of site traffic and downloads it generated.

“These are real, measurable results: 100,000 emails, more than 30,000 downloads, 20 times our daily average revenues and half a million site visits – all from a 15-minute segment on a television programme!”

Corrigan also shared with me that they were being offered “ridiculously stupid amounts” of investment capital from US VC firms. Interestingly, the company today shared on twitter that they’d decided they’d decided to forego the funding offered by the Dragon’s in exchange for funding acquired elsewhere:

We are following their progress with interest and love their story so much that we’re hosting an event soon with Ben as a special guest. More details to come, keep an eye out from an email from us if you are on our mailing list or join us on facebook or twitter to find out more.