Trinity Entrepreneurial Society: Dragons’ Den Through the Years
by Daryna Kushnir and Urte Perkauskaite
The show Dragons’ Den is based on the Japanese television series ‘Manē no Tora’ (‘The Tigers of Money’). It was broadcast from 2001 to 2004. Since then, the concept of ‘Dragons’ Den’ has gained popularity in many countries. For example, in the United States the show is known as ‘Shark Tank’ and the panel of investors are known as the ‘Sharks.’
Entrepreneur Michael Cotton made history in the show as his invention – a device used to stop motorists filling up their diesel cars with petrol – received the largest investment to date, totalling £250,000. While ‘Tangle Teezer’ which did not receive investment in the show is now worth an estimated £200m.
Pitching competitions are held in many world-renowned universities. For example, the University of Oxford launched its ‘Humanities Innovation Challenge,’ where students pitch their entrepreneurial ideas and compete for a prize of £5000. Similarly, in 2020, Durham University held its fourteenth pitching competition ‘Dragons’ Den with a Difference’ with environmental sustainability as the event’s focus.
The TES Dragons’ Den has been active in Trinity’s college community for a long time, we look back on some successful and strange ideas that have gone through the competition over the years;
A company which hails to be the first of its kind, Equine MediRecord was founded by Trinity students Pierce Dargan and Simon Hillary. The idea was first pitched at the TES Dragons’ Den competition in 2016. The equine startup went onto Launchbox and has become a successful business operating in Ireland, the UK and France.
The novel market research startup placed second in Dragons’ Den 2019, also securing a place in Launchbox. It has been operating successfully ever since. The team consisted of five Trinity undergraduates – some making sacrifices such as foregoing Erasmus to work on their idea! An interview with Charlie Butler, one of the founders is available on the TES website.
Winner of last year’s Dragons’ Den competition, CFlood’s core product is a simple and accurate tool which visualises flood data. The company is currently looking for investors and hopes to make its product available to the market very soon. More information about their plans are available here: https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/cflood-visualise-flood-data-tcd-launchbox/
The winner of Dragons’ Den in 2017 aimed to sell hearing aids at a much more consumer-friendly price of €550. The company also secured funding at the Irelands Funds competition.
A startup proposing to grind up crickets into flour as a sustainable alternative to beef came close to winning Dragons’ Den back in 2016! It didn’t seem to work out, but a California company called Little Farms is doing very well with the same idea.
Despite the pandemic, the TES Dragons’ Den competition persists, taking place over Zoom this time. The society’s current ‘Incubator’ participants suggest some very promising ideas for Dragons’ Den 2021. The competition will offer more than €20,000 worth of prizes, with judges Alison Treacy, Kate Fullen and Sean Judge representing the sponsors Elkstone, Amazon Web Services and Tangent. Be sure to apply before it’s too late!
More information is available at https://www.testrinity.com/dragons-den