Interview with a fintech that pitched in the Den
Following her appearance on Dragons’ Den, Fintech Scotland member Sheila Hogan, founder and CEO of digital legacy vault, Biscuit Tin, shares her experience of her time in the Den and what it was like pitching to such a high profile and successful group of entrepreneurs
Sheila, well done for your appearance on Dragons’ Den. Can you tell us what drove you to apply for the show?
I had originally applied to take part in Dragons’ Den in 2020 and was approached about being in the show in 2021. The process for getting in front of the Dragons is a lengthy one, involving an application, video pitch and interviews with a researcher who then presents your case to the executive team. Just getting to be on the show felt like an enormous achievement.
I applied for the show because I wanted to propel awareness of Biscuit Tin, it’s purpose and mission to a global audience, whilst hopefully securing investment from one of the Dragons’. I had my hopes pinned on Deborah Meaden. Given her own personal experience I knew Biscuit Tin would resonate, and she holds a strong belief in businesses with purpose and as a force for good. I knew getting on Dragons’ Den would be the chance of a lifetime and would help me to achieve my vision of establishing Biscuit Tin as a leading global household brand for end-of-life planning and digital legacy within the next five years.
Despite a great pitch, you didn’t manage to get a dragon on board. What do you feel was the main reason?
At the time of filming, I was a pre-revenue tech company with a business profile that simply did not align with the Dragons’ individual investment strategies.
Is pitching in the den very different from pitching anywhere else?
Knowing my pitch was going to be aired to potentially millions of people on prime-time TV, meant that my Dragons’ Den experience was always going to be quite unlike any other pitch or speaking engagement that I’d ever had to do over my forty-year career in IT, change and project management. And so, it proved to be. Stepping out of the lift and into the studio where the Dragons were sat was one of the most nerve-wracking, but exhilarating times of my life. In the Den, there was an intensity to my pitch that I’d not experienced before. Knowing the pitch could be edited in any way the producers chose, which I had no control over, meant that I was more nervous on the night the episode aired than I was before the pitch! The one thing it did have in common with pitching to others, is that with any set of potential investors the key thing is to make a meaningful connection with them. In the Den I knew I had to give the performance a lifetime and I did everything within my control to be ready and prepared for filming on the day.
What learnings do you take away from your appearance on the BBC show? Would you do it again?
I would absolutely do it again. I wouldn’t want to miss such a golden opportunity. On my journey to the Den, I learnt so much. All the preparation was invaluable and has stood me in good stead for pitches to other investors. Since filming I have secured £330,000 investment from Velocity Capital, Scottish Enterprise, and a private investor. In fact, some of the feedback I received from the Dragons’ made me even more determined to succeed!
Whilst no money came from the dragons, you recently announced a successful £330,000 raise. What did you investors see that the dragons didn't?
The investors we pitched to were specialist tech investors, who understand the financial profiles of tech startups. They saw the potential of Biscuit Tin and were not phased by the losses we experienced in the first couple of years of the business, as this is standard for a tech start-up. Biscuit Tin was simply better aligned to their experience and strategies.
What will this fresh investment allow you to do?
This investment will allow the business to gain significant traction through key hires and product development. I am more than equipped and determined to take the business to the next level. We are moving ever closer to achieving my dream of making Biscuit Tin a global household brand, to live in a world where planning for end of life is the norm, and where we all have ‘virtual’ biscuit tins containing digital legacies to hand down the generations.
What are the next big milestones for Biscuit Tin?
The next big milestones are to engage with as many users as possible, coupled with valuable partnerships, so we can empower as many people as possible to get organised. We will be working to develop Biscuit Tin further, to provide product features that reflect the needs of our customers.
I am delighted to have been selected as part of the cohort of Scotland’s top twenty up and coming tech companies travelling to Silicon Valley with StartUp Grind in April. Funded by the Scottish Tech Ecosystem Fund, the trip will bring together Scotland’s top startups and scale ups with more than 3,000 of the world’s best.