Ollypop in the Den - What Really Happened ...

Ollypop's appearance on BBC 2 was short, but did it really reflect the true story?

After all the media exposure in the South West, Ollypop was only featured for about 40 seconds on the Dragon's Den and sadly they cut out the positive remarks from the rest of the Dragons. So what really happened? Olly tells all...

Well, I did my pitch while Wailin (official Ollypop demonstrator!) showed how to use the Ollypop flawlessly. I was pretty happy with the pitch, no stuttering despite the Dragons doing their best to put me off with their TV exaggerated head shakes and Theo's eyebrow almost reaching the ceiling at one point!

I finished the pitch, handed out the towels to the Dragons and the questions began. For some reason Duncan Bannatyne was on the floor in hysterics but eventually managed to pull himself together to ask a few probing questions. Richard Farleigh took up the challenge and had a go on the Ollypop, not quite getting his feet in the right place. I explained that if he was on a real wave and a real board he would have fallen off and a bit of banter followed with Richard calling us "bloody poms!”. I think he took offence to us Brits trying to teach an Aussie how to surf!

Deborah Meaden asked a few questions and wondered how people knew where to position themselves on the towel. I explained that each towel had an instruction card as well as the markings for hands and feet. She read the first line of the instructions and said "how do people know to lie down on the towel - there's no mention of the towel?" Oh dear, I thought, she really thinks my customers are stupid. A lot more questioning ensued at which point Theo and his eyebrow jumped in...

I don't know what was wrong with Theo but he seemed to take offence to the Ollypop and kept saying it had a "flaw", although he was never able to back this up. I explained that all he had to do was read the instructions and he would know how to use the towel but he didn't bother.

Then more questions from Peter Jones who clearly had taken the stereo-typical view that we were surf dudes and as he put it "had too much time on our hands!" (has he become so detached from reality that he's forgotten how much hard work it takes to set up a business?!!) Duncan Bannatyne seemed to come round to the Ollypop courtesy of a classic spiel from Wailin about Hawaian pros spending their winters practicing their pop-ups! In his summing up he said he wouldn't invest but was all for young people setting things like this up and wished us all the best. He added that he wasn't going to sit there pouring cold water on the idea (making reference to Theo's comments) because I may very well prove him wrong. Sadly, while he was saying this Theo shouted over the top of him saying he was only saying that for TV. It was then that I realised the BBC were unlikely to show the full version for not wanting to show the Dragons to be in any way influenced by the fact that this was a TV show not a realistic business meeting.

Richard and Deborah were also very positive, with Deborah saying not to give up because I'm making good sales and there have been surf brands from Cornwall that have gone on to sell for millions, Kangaroo Poo being one. They chose not to invest because they weren't convinced that I would sell as many as forecast.

Peter Jones declared himself out, trying to put us down as two surf dudes and Theo did the same with his memorable comment - "it's about as useful as knickers on a kipper!". (Its got a good ring to it that, stay posted for the "Kippers knickers" clothing range!)
We left the Den, walked down the stairs and listened to their post-pitch chat. One of the Dragons actually said that I may well make my millions but more products were needed (on the way, but still hush hush at this stage).

The production crew seemed really annoyed at the way Theo had reacted and explained it was probably because we had gone in at the worst time - just before lunch. The Dragons are bad enough normally, but apparently the slot just before lunch always seems to be really harsh.

We did various post-pitch interviews, questions such as "the Dragons really seemed to warm to you why do you think that was?" still stick in my mind as indicators of our time in the Den actually being more positive than negative. Sadly the edited version showed otherwise and Ollypop was seen in a more negative light. I guess negative TV makes for better viewing.

We were then booted off the premises unable to even grab a bit of food - thanks BBC, who said TV isn't glamorous?!

So now here we are, my journey with the Den is over and the show has been aired. Do I carry on with a product "as useful as knickers on a kipper!"? Well we're still making sales, the feedback is great (see testimonials) and people love the Ollypop. It is clearly a useful product and I'm passionate about it.

So yes, I do carry on, except now I have a renewed motivation to prove the doubters wrong. Theo and Peter, watch this space!

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