David Parkin on Dragons’ Den, endings, beginnings and plane ambition

THE end of an era? Not really.

But when I wrote my final column for TheBusinessDesk.com in January it was nice to get so many kind comments from readers.
Or was it?
People suggested they enjoyed reading my blogs every Friday morning but at the same time referred to my considered thoughts as “rants”, “ramblings”, “un-PC”,  “out there” and “inappropriate comments” – and that was just one person’s view. And they said they were a fan.
But you can’t keep an average blog down, so here, phoenix-like from the bonfire of my vanities, it reappears in all its first-thing-in-the-morning glory.
After an appropriate period of mourning (a week), I will continue to produce some thoughts on a weekly basis, whether you like it or not. And, like before, I won’t aim to challenge you intellectually, just try to inject a little lightness into your end of week endeavours.
A CHANGE of role requires you to spend a bit of time on Linkedin, the equivalent of Facebook for business. You have to add your new company, new contact details and job title.
Linkedin constantly suggests people to connect with and I’m wondering if it points you towards people of a similar ilk to yourself.
I only say that because the first two individuals it suggested I connect with following my change of role had the job titles “semi-retired” and “fantasist”.
DID you watch Dragons’ Den last Sunday? It featured Yorkshire-based entrepreneurs Andy Needham and Dan Cluderay, the guys behind Approved Foods.
That is the Sheffield-based online business that specialises in selling short-dated and residual stock food and drinks which it buys direct from manufacturers and wholesalers.
I know Andy and remember him telling me how traumatic the Dragons’ Den experience had been when it was filmed last year.
Remember that, unlike some inexperienced individuals with ill-thought out ideas, Andy and Dan have built a business that is already very successful in its own right and they are no mugs.
Apparently they were kept waiting for nine hours before they were finally pushed in front of the Dragons. And just before they did, the producer told them to alter their pitch for funding to the panel of millionaires because they would never accept the price of the percentage the pair were prepared to sell.
They quickly realised they were part of a TV entertainment show rather than a potential business deal and both now believe they had a lucky escape, having subsequently attracted £400,000 of funding for expansion from a variety of sources.
I told Andy to be proud of the experience and forget the silliness of Dragons’ Den, he’s still got a great, growing business without having a gobby Dragon on board.
For such advice I’m sure I will be richly rewarded.
I’m sure a packet of near-date Angel Delight is winging its way to me as we speak.
CHATTING to a friend of mine, Martin Allison, about a new job he has taken up as chief executive of Leeds-based GMI Renewable Energy, I asked how this top banker turned business fixer had secured such a role.
“I met a guy on a plane on the way back from a skiing holiday and it went from there,” explained Martin very matter-of-factly.
Last year when I went skiing one of the group sat next to a woman on her way to a business conference in Germany and he is now engaged to her.
I do my fair share of air travel but never have I either been offered a job or found love at 35,000 feet.
Well, perhaps I’ve been attracted to a fellow passenger on a flight, but it hasn’t been reciprocated.
I once got on a flight to Los Angeles and saw that I was right at the back of the plane, where there are only two seats together.
I was in the aisle seat, next to me was a very attractive woman. As I stowed my hand luggage and prepared to take my seat, my brain was telling me: “Take it easy Parky, play it cool, you’ve got 12 hours to impress her.”
I took my seat, just as she took a sleeping pill, pulled the blanket up over her head and she didn’t stir until we touched down in LA.

Have a great weekend.

Dan Cluderay and Andy Needham of Approved Foods
Dan Cluderay and Andy Needham of Approved Foods

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