Yesterday saw the return of one of my favourite programs on BBC 2: Dragons Den.
And boy, were we in for a treat! The program makers left the best for last: Steve Smith with his "True Call" a 'cold-call' blocking system with a difference. Most phone companies have 'services' you can use to block certain numbers but these will block callers indifferently and will cost you between £ 3.50 - £ 4.00 per month.
The "True Call" is a device which is (at the moment) plugged in between the phone socket and your phone and screens every incoming call. Meaning you as user have multiple options when the phone rings. If the caller is on your 'friends list' the call is let straight through to your phone, if the caller is 'unknown' the True Call will ask him/her to identify themselves and then gives you, the user, 4 options:
- accept the call
- accept the call and add number to the 'friend list'
- direct the call to an answer machine
- Zap the caller
During the demonstration Steve Smith did just that and the cold-caller hears a 'standard' message we are all eager to be able to tell one of those callers:
"We're not interested in your call. Please hang up and don't call again"
in the most cold voice you can imagine. It had the Dragons in stitches too.
It was a great pitch, straight forward and to the point. And then it became even more interesting due to the almost eager reactions of the Dragons to get a 'piece of the action'.
It does not happen often in the Den what happened yesterday - or at least was broadcasted yesterday, today saw plenty of very surprised tweets about how quickly the product seemed to be available in the shops.
There in front of 5 of the most renowned Entrepreneurs UK has come to know (and appreciate) stood an entrepreneur with a proven track-record, a proven product, an almost perfect pitch and a believable financial forecast asking for an investment of £100.000 for 7.5% equity.
They almost tripped over each other to get in.
James Caan set the benchmark by offering 1/2 for 12.5% - Deborah Meaden went straight over him by offering the full amount for 12.5%.
Duncan Bannatyne was really clever IMHO to simply state he would underwrite every offer made by Peter Jones (who as we all know is THE man to have as Dragon for any product even just slightly related to tele-communication).
Peter did indeed make it known that he could add the most value most quickly and offered the full amount for 15% or would share 3 ways with Duncan and James.
Then Theo Pathitis threw in his retail acumen: he could have UK distribution in seconds and matched Deborah's offer.
I'm not going to spoil it any further for those who haven't seen it yet, just watch the 13 minute video of the broadcast here. I must confess I was sitting on the edge of my seat at the end - which offer would this proven entrepreneur go for?
In all the years I've been watching Dragons Den it is rare to see a fight like this and offers in so quick (and so low!).
One thing that did cross my mind at the end was: which cold call business will find a 'cure' for the True Call blocker?
And that my friends, is what keeps the economical world turn round and round and round:
act and counteract