Advertisement

'We went on Dragons' Den but didn't want offers from two dragons'

'We were worried about any sort of dragon versus dragon, who's show is it?'

Co-founders Michael Goulden and Ben Whitaker of Electric Vehicles charging start-up Kerbo Charge tell their story of being on Dragons' Den. (BBC screengrab)
Co-founders Michael Goulden and Ben Whitaker of Electric Vehicles charging start-up Kerbo Charge tell their story of being on Dragons' Den. (BBC screengrab)
  • Co-founders Michael Goulden and Ben Whitaker of Electric Vehicles charging start-up Kerbo Charge won a £50,000 investment from Deborah Meaden in Dragons' Den last week after choosing between Meaden and Touker Souleyman's offers.

  • They devised an idea for their charging channel to help EV owners without a driveway - that eliminates the current problems including: the cable tripping hazard as well as the time-consuming nature and expense of having to travel to a public charging point.

Before we went in we would have been happy to get an investment from any of the dragons in the den.

And when we got both offers from Deborah Meaden and Touker Souleyman, we felt we were spoiled for choice. It was a close call.

But we decided that we would probably just want to work one dragon for simplicity afterwards. We thought Deborah would be a great fit for us because she has got that experience of growing so many successful businesses and has a passion for sustainability. Her breadth of experience won it for us.

We think Deborah will be much more engaged in our business as the sole dragon rather than having it diluted with two dragons involved. We were worried about any sort of dragon versus dragon, who's show is it?

So it seemed more simple to accept Deborah's offer. Especially for a relatively early company, it’s not something where you want a million billion people involved.

Sealing the deal at the end was a great moment but the greatest moment of the show was when Peter Jones had finished giving us both barrels and Deborah then said, as you seen on the show, "I couldn't agree less with Peter." It was music to our ears. We thought it was brilliant.

Deborah Meaden struck a deal. (BBC)
Deborah Meaden struck a deal. (BBC)

In the den, the dragons are cutting across each other and cutting across you. You've just got to try finish your point and answer the questions. The dragons are the ones who are going to either spend most of the time ripping you apart in front of everybody or having a conversation that gives you the opportunity to show the good sides of your business.

All the dragons gave us a real grilling for the full hour we were in there. A lot of people were asking why didn't they ask: What about the numbers behind it? What's their growth plans? What about partnerships? We went through it all but it can't all make the final cut of the show.

The most challenging moment was with Peter, who was definitely happy to ask the challenging questions. Challenging questions are great - as long as somebody then gives you the space to respond to them, not just stream roll over you. Then the challenge is to make sure you're responsive and respectful.

As he was the first one to give his feedback, we did worry that the others would be influenced by what he initially said. So then to get to the point of agreeing a deal did feel amazing.

Peter Jones was involved in grilling in Dragons' Den. (BBC)
Peter Jones was involved in grilling in Dragons' Den. (BBC)

It does make for interesting TV though. The edit removes a lot of the questioning and they choose those particular moments from the den to tell an interesting story. Out of five dragons we had four that thought it was a good idea and we went for Deborah.

We were so impressed that we got to meet Deborah straight afterwards and have a really lovely chat to her behind the set. Already she had lots of ideas straight away about the introductions she can make and some ideas for business.

Our first impressions were when we walked into the set was that it really felt exactly like the TV show. It was a really impressive environment to be in. And we felt confident in what we were gonna present. But the nerves really built up while we were waiting outside the lift and it felt like a long time. Maybe that's deliberate?

The other thing we were perhaps a little nervous about was this is a product for people who don't have a driveway. Now, the reality is that, we don't know for sure, but we imagine most of the dragons have a house with a driveway. The really important thing for this is for people to empathise with the problem. And if it's not something that they ever had a problem with themselves, it's gonna be harder. And indeed you hear Steven Bartlett say he sees it as a problem but it's not something he's experienced himself.

Michael Goulden and Ben Whitaker told their story to Lily Waddell.

Read more