Pouch's Journey Through the Dragons' Den
Elisabeth Brier and Ben Corrigan

Few entrepreneurs can even dream of the visibility, value and recognition that comes from entering the Dragons’ Den. The hit BBC show has propelled countless startups into the mainstream, yet for many, appearing on the program is nothing more than a pipe dream.

That is, of course, unless your Pouch.

A company that automatically helps you find the best voucher codes while you shop, Pouch was one of the lucky few to secure a spot on the Dragons’ Den earlier this year.

One of the company’s cofounders, Ben Corrigan, took the time to chat with TechDay about his experience on the show, how it ultimately influenced the growth of Pouch, and what’s coming up next for the innovative startup.

When originally applying for a spot on Dragon's Den, what specific value did you see in the opportunity?

The BBC actually approached us and suggested that we apply to be on the show. If they hadn't have got in touch it is unlikely that we would have considered, so thank God that they did! The obvious and immediate value in the opportunity was the exposure to the audience that the show attracts. It is one of the most popular shows on British television, and because we are a free B2C tech product, we new that we would see a lot of downloads if we were to make it on the show. We ended up live-streaming the traffic uplift from the show, and ultimately collected over 100,000 email addresses and drove 50,000 downloads in the 24 hours after broadcast.

In addition, it is always valuable to get feedback from investors as experienced as the Dragons.

What do you believe it ultimately was that secured Pouch's spot on the show above all the other companies that applied?

It is tough to say, because obviously the BBC producers like to have a mix of different companies at different stages with different products. I think we sat really nicely with their requirements. The problem that we are solving is very well understood and widely suffered - it is simply too hard and frustrating to find valid voucher codes when shopping online. Our solution was equally simple to demonstrate, and we didn't enter the Den asking for a particularly large amount of money (only £75,000) and we also came in with a fair and justifiable valuation.

In addition, I think the BBC knew that we were quite presentable young guys, and were very well prepared with handling questions and knowing our numbers intimately. We had also already seen some success before the show; we won the MassChallengeUK 2016 accelerator programme, had been featured in several press publications, and Jonny and I were named by Startups.co.uk as two of the top '20 young founders to watch in 2017'. This seems to have lent us some credibility during the application process.

You walked in initially wanting Peter Jones as an investor, but in the end it was three other Dragons that were chosen. What was it about this offer that was more enticing and that had you abandoning your original thought?

First, we never expected to be in a position of deciding between offers from all five Dragons. Only two other companies in the shows 17 seasons have been in that situation. We therefore knew that we were in a very strong negotiation position. Therefore any game plan we had went out of the window. In the end it was a very easy decision for us. Peter Jones wanted 25% which was simply too much equity. Having three Dragons onboard, coupled with the brands that they could provide as clients straight off the bat, as well as they fact we were saving 7% of the business made it a no-brainer.

Did your appearance on the show live up to expectations in terms of gaining visibility and growth for Pouch?

Yes and no. We thought the viewership would be larger than it was. Apparently around 2.5m people watched the episode, but we were expecting closer to 4m. Even though it was the season premier of the show, it was smack bang in the middle of August when many people are away on holiday. However, it was rebroadcast on the following Friday and we are still seeing a steady stream of downloads from catch-up and iPlayer. In the end, we have seen around 50,000-60,000 downloads in the week after the show, and we have collected over 100,000 email addresses which is not bad for a day’s work!

We have also seen a lot of press attention following the show, and (just as importantly) we have seen our Cost-Per-Download drop off a cliff now that we can exploit the 'As seen on Dragons Den' element in our digital marketing initiatives. We are hoping to be at 250,000 users by Christmas... fingers crossed!

Beyond just visibility, how has the assistance of the Dragons helped propel Pouch forward? For example, what have you learned? What new connections have you attained?

Now that the dust has started to settle, we can announce that we ended up not doing a deal with the Dragons. We were offered nearly triple the investment for a significantly better multi-million pound valuation which we feel is deserved. We are in a very strong position with some excellent new investors, but would love to thank the Dragons and the BBC for their time and interest. It is not uncommon for some deals to fall apart following the show, but the Dragons were very supportive and understanding and I hope we can work with them in the future.

What are your plans to maintain momentum for the company following this incredible experience?

Now the real work starts!

1) We need to capitalise on the immediate interest and exposure from the show before it dies out quickly. We are focused on onboarding some more fantastic retailers which will make the product even better, and doing as many interviews as we can.
2) We need to make some key hires in Business Development, Account Management and programming to make sure we have a very successful Christmas period.
3) We want to release a couple of great new features which will increase usage of Pouch and improve revenues for retailers.
4) We want to launch in Australia in the next couple of months
5) Put the company in a healthy financial situation so that we can (perhaps) raise a much larger round in the new year.