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Edinburgh Entrepreneur Tames The Dragons

Ross Kelly

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Dragons' Den

Beezer CEO and Founder, Brian Smillie, was involved in one of the most memorable altercations ever witnessed on BBC hit show, Dragons’ Den on Sunday.

Appearing on Dragons’ Den, Beezer founder Brian Smillie successfully secured £125,000 in investment from Peter Jones after an action-packed stand-off.

Appearing before the Dragons alongside the company’s chief operating officer, Euan McCreath, the entrepreneur engaged in a tense to-and-fro that very nearly backfired.

Smillie told the Dragons, which include Deborah MeadenTej Lalvani and Touker Suleyman, that he’d worked tirelessly to build Beezer to this point, and through Dragon support, the company could continue its ascendancy.

“I went out and raised £800,000 to get things going and put £150,000 of my own money into the business. I’ve sold my two houses, my Banksy art collection – I’ve put everything into this.”

Mobile Apps Made Easy

Smillie launched the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform with the aim of enabling users to set up their own app in a convenient, streamlined manner. While there are numerous companies that offer consumers easy-to-use app set-up products, Smillie told the Dragons that Beezer is the premier SaaS platform where one can retain complete control over the distribution of the app.

Beezer offers the ability to create your own mobile app using an online tool. Once the app is built and operational, it can be sent directly to the users across a number of mediums, including SMS, social media or email. McCreath noted that this enables the user to complete bypass app stores.

Dragons' Den

What separates Beezer from competition, Smillie told the Dragons, was its unique user-focus.

“It’s great for spreading content,” he said, “and you can incentivise going viral by saying thanks for downloading our app, for every ten shares we’re now giving you a chance to win ‘X’ – or for every share you get we’re going to give you a further discount off that product.”

App stores offer businesses and individuals the opportunity to promote their products to a global market. However, with such a significant number of apps present – with new apps created and circulated every day – Smillie commented that the volume of apps available can drown out businesses.

Smillie told the Dragons: “The problem is apps aren’t making out of the store, they are sitting there until they die of neglect.”

A Dance with Dragons

Dragon’s Den is a high-stakes, tense environment for any entrepreneur to pitch in. Four out of five, however, made Smillie and McCreath offers. Deborah Meaden, Tej Lalvani and Touker Suleyman made sizeable offers, however, Smillie ultimately settled on Peter Jones; citing his experience, contacts and tech-savvy.

It wasn’t a clear-cut affair though. Smillie sought £125,000 investment for a 4% share in the business, which the Dragon’s were not willing to accept. Meaden, Suleyman and Lalvani all made offers deemed unacceptable to the guests, with Jones also demanding a 15% share in the firm.

Smillie almost derailed the duo’s efforts, however, and was warned he was on “thin ice” after brazenly declaring he was “only interested” in Jones and Meaden.

Dragons' Den

After a tense standoff in which Jones nearly pulled away, Smillie accepted the investors offer of £125,000 for a 15% share, which long-term will fall to 10%.

“I’m going to go with my gut on this,” Smillie said, “and my gut says go with you, Peter.”

After arguably one of the most exhilarating encounters ever witnessed on the series, Jones and Smillie both noted they were shaken by the altercation.

“That was one of my toughest negotiations in the Den,” Jones commented. “I’m actually clammy.”

Speaking to Digit, Smillie said: “In follow up to our appearance and success in securing an offer from tech titan Peter Jones I’d like to thank the dev team and Euan McCreath for all of their ongoing support in getting Beezer up and running.”

He added: “To be potentially considered as the next Unicorn, it just goes to show that you don’t have to be born and bred out of Silicon Valley and that us Scots have still got it when it comes to innovative inventions.”

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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