Dragon's Den is the UK version of Shark Tank. What was the biggest surprise for us going on the show? Spending over three hours being grilled by the Dragons! Standing the whole time, with bright lights beaming at you, sweating, answering question after question.
We had no idea what the BBC would decide to show on TV. It could be the worst moment of our lives: embarrassed in front of millions, laughed at and kicked out of the Den. Scary stuff!
Since childhood we’ve always been fascinated by the TV show and the idea of entering the Den to face terrifying Dragons who have the potential to make or break our business. So, when offered the opportunity to go on the show to pitch our natural and sustainable beauty brand Optiat, (before we changed our name to UpCircle) there was no real decision to be made!
We really wanted to share our story with the world. From the cafetiere inspiration that got us started to creating ethical beauty products that perform for your skin and help the world.
We hoped that if we got the right Dragon on board, we could accelerate our growth plans and achieve our lifelong goals. We want to become a global beauty brand that actually reduces the impact humans have on our environment and proves that there is an alternative to toxic skincare products.
If all else fails in the Den, at least we would have shared our hopes for a better beauty industry!
Going on the show was risky – we knew that we’d be going on prime-time national TV in front of millions of people – and our business will be ripped apart by the Dragons, for the world to see! We prepared endlessly for the pitch.
We opened our spreadsheets and tried to memorise every figure we could. We spent days deciding what to wear. We practiced our pitch. We thought of every question a Dragon could ask.
We even binge-watched as much Dragons' Den as possible!
With the studios based up in Manchester, we drove up the night before to set up the stand, making sure that our products looked incredible on screen, then rehearsed the pitch one final time.
The next morning at 6am we were up and ready to go. By 8am makeup was done and pre-interviews completed. Next? We waited. As one of six businesses to pitch that day, we just had to wait until we were called.
The green room felt like a very lonely place.
We waited. Rehearsed. Went over the numbers again. Worried over questions that were never likely to be asked. Waited. Waited…
And then, we were called.
We were terrified! We had no idea what to expect – what questions would they ask? Could they instantaneously damage our business? All we could think was that the show was going to be screened to millions of people!
Even though we were in the Den for over three hours, it went by in a flash. The Dragons asked questions. Lots. Some difficult, some unusual. They said nice things. They said horrible things. We laughed (and cried a little on the inside).
OUCH! Deborah and Jenny politely declined the deal. This was a low point. It is over. We go home with nothing.
BANG! The first offer came in from Tej. YES!
After some more questions, a second offer – thanks, Touker!
Then Peter out of nowhere dropped in a third offer. WOW. All of sudden we were at a high! They were begging for our business.
We paused. Negotiated. Agonised. Negotiated some more.
And then, we accepted a joint offer. From Touker and Tej. The dream team.
What a feeling!
The Den was a fantastic experience and we had a wonderful, rewarding time. Most importantly, it’s meant that we’ve met lots of new UpCircle fans and introduced our sustainable skincare mission to many more people. We’ve even been recognised on the streets – it’s a weird feeling. Hello and welcome!
(People even started to ask us for selfies!)
What are our favourite products?
We get asked this a lot. As individuals we are really very different - but do we have the same go-to UpCircle products in our daily skincare routines? Which would be our UpCircle top picks?
People ask me what my favourite UpCircle product is all the time, and it’s a tough question to answer. The truth is, my favourites change all the time – with the seasons, with my mood, with the time of day... anything! One product that remains consistently at the top of my list of picks is the organic face serum. I love its versatility - and in the winter it really is a saviour.
My favourite product would have to be the Lemongrass scrub. The scent is so refreshing and using it in the shower in the morning transports me back to showering outside in Thailand! The coffee scrub leaves your skin feeling really smooth and the shea butter moisturises. It is the perfect product for travelling too – I always take one with me when I go abroad. I particularly like invigorating products so the citrus scent with hints of botanicals that you get in the lemongrass scrub has always been a favourite.