Thanks But No Thanks - Lifelong's Experience at Dragon's Den
Lifelong has had an exciting past few weeks after being featured on Dragon's Den Sweden. Participating was a major opportunity to showcase our products and share our vision for a sustainable future on a national level, but was the outcome worth it?
If you're in Sweden and missed it, you can watch it here on SVT Play. Lifelong is featured on episode 6.
Although the opportunity to be introduced to the entire country is vital, and Lifelong was offered investment, we eventually turned it down. Why? We spoke with Adam, Lifelong's CEO, who pitched on the show, to get a better understanding.
Q: How did you get a chance to appear on Dragon's Den?
A: I heard through Antler, the early-stage investment program through which Lifelong came together, that Dragon's Den was looking for new, promising startups. Although I was very late to the table with regards to applying, they let me on the show because they really liked my products.
Q: What does it mean for a company to be invited on Dragon's Den?
A: For me, as a serial entrepreneur, it was something ticked off the bucket list. I always knew I would pitch on Dragon's Den, even if I imagined it would be in the UK, where I'm from - and that I would pitch in English!
Regarding the company, it felt key for getting the brand out there on television and improving brand recognition. It also felt important for demonstrating what we are doing regarding sustainability and environmental awareness.
Q: What are your overall feelings regarding the experience?
We had a great opportunity through SVT (Swedish National Television) to introduce the product to millions of people, but they cut my pitch short and focused on other products that are not sustainability-focused. SVT had a good opportunity to make a difference to Sweden as a nation, but they chose not to show the pitch in full. Sweden only recycles 15% of its household plastic waste, and as a foreigner, I'm living here trying to help improve on this problem, but SVT completely destroyed that opportunity.
In the end, it's a game show, but it was still disappointing that SVT cut my pitch in half. They didn't show any rounds of questions regarding why the Dragons did or didn't invest, or show what the product is or why it's important.
Additionally, SVT has very strict advertising rights, so they don't really allow you to show the brand. That's very different from the UK, where they showcase your brand quite openly and make it easier for the public to find your brand. In Sweden that's much more difficult, especially, if you're on tv only briefly.
Q: How was the process after participating on the show?
A: After the show, I spoke with the Dragon quite a lot. He tested our products and gave feedback. It wasn't until six months after taping that the investment was fully offered. By that time, I had already managed to raise the same amount offered through crowdfunding as the investor had offered for 20% of the company. That's a big reason I chose not to take the funding.
Q: Are there other reasons why Lifelong chose not to take the investment?
A: The Dragons like to take a big percentage of your company, and 20% is a large amount to give away for a relatively small amount of money. It can also cause problems with the cap table and later investment rounds, as it's valuing your company at a lower value than what it's actually worth.
As quite a bit of time had passed, not only had I raised a similar amount through crowdfunding, but Lifelong also got a spot on Sting, the Nordic region's premier accelerator program, along with an investment from Propel Capital for 500.000SEK.
Ultimately, we are really grateful to have been on the show, but we decided this was a better way to develop sustainably. Time will tell if this was the correct decision!