Dragons' Den returns for its 15th series with two new multi-millionaires entering the fray
Interview with Tej Lalvani
Before you make your first investment you’re thinking should I invest now or when is going to be the right time to invest. You have a lot floating around in your mind.Tej Lalvani
Are you enjoying being a Dragon?
I’m really enjoying it. It’s a fantastic experience. I didn’t know what to expect when I came on set for the first time but the other Dragons were great and the crew have been wonderful so it feels really good now.
What is your relationship like with the other Dragons?
In the Den it’s hot and cold depending on if I like something and want to invest in an entrepreneur then all bets are off but sometimes I see the value the other dragons are bringing in. There is lots of banter and it’s different every day.
The Dragons themselves are wonderful people and easy to get along with. They’ve been very accommodating and helped ease both myself and Jenny into the process.
Did the returning Dragons give you any good advice?
They did. Peter, Deborah and Touker told me what to expect. I haven’t been in front of the camera much before so they helped me to deal with that and taught me what to focus on.
How did you feel on your first day?
Very nervous. I was conscious of the cameras to start with and what questions would be the right ones to ask. Before you make your first investment you’re thinking should I invest now or when is going to be the right time to invest. You have a lot floating around in your mind. After a couple of days you settle in and understand better the sequence of how things are happening.
What does it take for you to say yes to an entrepreneur?
It’s got to be their character, their determination. Have they got the secret source for success that I believe they need? Of course the product is very important as well. I have to believe in the product. Coming from a healthcare background you tend to focus on products and services in that category but I try to keep an open mind to completely different areas of industry too. Then it comes down to the entrepreneur, what skills they have and what value I can bring to their business.
How important is the entrepreneur when you’re making the decision as to whether or not to invest?
Sometimes if the entrepreneur comes with an unprepared pitch or they haven’t got their numbers right then you really grill them because they’re here presenting and should have prepared their numbers and pitch. Occasionally they give you a crazy valuation which they can’t base on any evidence which is frustrating. They’re just creating figures of forecast. That is where you have to really drill down.
What sort of business are you looking for?
When I came into the Den I thought I can add value in the retail space, consumer goods and marketing because that’s where my main expertise is however I soon had an open mind to various businesses because you realise they can use your expertise, for example a completely different business may need help with the branding or the packaging. You start to think I can work with them in that industry with that product.
What is your dream business?
I love technology, design and music so maybe something that combines all three.
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