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Have a Business Idea? What to do next if not Dragons’ Den?

Dragons’ Den, BBC 2 television reality show helped many entrepreneurs become millionaires in a short span of time. Five venturesome capitalists called dragons were the investors in the den. The pitcher needed a big idea to become a winner and get all the funding he asked for or nothing at all. The concept was simple enough, many cash starved businesses and inventions found this opening to be a challenge thrilling. Some who were picked up as a winner after due diligence returned ten times the invested money to their angle investors.

However many were not lucky enough to get through the Dragons’ Den. Their ideas were perhaps needed more refinement and a better business plan. What are the options for them? Most of the ideas as they say are never original except who gets it first.

Even before Dragons’ Den became famous for its unorthodox style of - on your face - public funding of the new ideas and talents there was another option. An online software company, which tested the business idea through its readymade packages, provided scores based on commerc ial viability and other investment criteria’s to the prospective entrepreneurs. They were also provided with the feedback about their inventions. Anyone who used to score more than 70% then his proposal was sent for further evaluation by the professionals for project viability. The final winner was given the desired capital as an investment.

Similarly, even after the Dragons’ Den stopped its shows many portals have sprung up all over the United Kingdom trying to link the entrepreneurs and the investors. The portals claim to provide thousands of investment opportunities to the investors. The process has three types of stages: In first stage, the prospective investor is linked to the online proposals submitted by the entrepreneurs through online submissions. Next stage depends upon their liking of the business idea which allows the investor to meet the entrepreneur face to face. Later the portal provides all the secretarial assistance to elite investors to complete the process of due diligence. In some cases face book acts as a catalyst to crystallize the investment terms between the two parties.

For the entrepreneurs finding equity is a nerve wrecking task. You have to convince someone who may or may not be receptive to you idea. Dragons’ Den was a live public platform where in dragon millionaires were receptive and were willing listeners. Hence the role of interactive business websites which provide the access to the ideational youngsters with innovative concepts to chat or talk to an angel investors, venture capitalists and business funds is a boon.

Online sites make the capital hunting exercise easy, convenient and straightforward. You log on to the easy to use web-platforms where in you put in your project details, your budget and your profitability. Depending upon the size of your need, the data bank of investors gets in touch with prospective venture capital companies, individuals and funds that are in search of the viable ideas. Once you have two of them together then the possibility of getting funds and arriving at mutually satisfied deal is that much higher than perhaps was available on Dragons’ Den.

Interestingly, some online companies even offer guarantees of getting funds to each of the applicants. This perhaps goes further than the aim of Dragons’ Den show which was a lottery since you had only three minute to convince the dragons and losers invariably were the best who perhaps had one bad day.

The online service providers claim that they will charge you the fees only if you get the investors which in itself provide a great window of opportunity in times of economic recession as is now to feel good about the possibility of getting it through. They call it, `pay on performance business model’.

The detailing process of this model is fine tuned to suit the both the parties. The interested entrepreneur is to write his investment proposal in 1000 words specifying aims and objectives of the project. At this stage even before it goes to the investor, the concerned website conducts a thorough review. They also provide guidance and advise to make the proposal a worth a look by the investor.

Once the proposal is made investor friendly the website takes the final step of sending the proposal to more than hundred investors and sometimes even to thousand depending upon the size, industry, amount and the region.

Then on the actual negotiation process starts between the investor and the entrepreneur. The first response which a entrepreneur receives is charged to the extent of £99.00, which is inclusive of all other responses that may come at a later date.

There are four types of funding undertaken by the online portals: 1.Small business proposal 2.New venture capital 3.Existing business finance 4.Grants for sunrise industries. In each case the online portals use various net working sites to raise funds for the entrepreneur subject to due diligence.

There are two more ways that the entrepreneur can search for the venture capitalists that may fund them. One term that is gaining a lot of ground on the net is called crowd funding or micro patronage. In this instance, the entrepreneur showcases his presentation which includes his project details, capital requirement and profitability on a social networking websites.

People who are interested in helping the entrepreneur will get together to fund the project. Again as in case of the other avenues that are available to the entrepreneur no half funding is entertained. It so happens that many a times even a stranger somewhere across the world can invest money in your project.

Meanwhile, in April 2009, BBC2 launched Dragons’ Den Online with two venture capitalists, Edinburgh-based business man Shaf Rasuls and American born Julie Meyer. This online facility is open all around, 24X 7, to the needy businesspersons who want project funding up to £50,000. The interested entrepreneurs have to post a 3 minute video pitch on the Dragons’ Den website and wait for the dragons to invite them to their den. In short, there is no one size fits all, dictum that holds true for the accessing venture capital in United Kingdom.