Dragons’ Den Interview with Stephen Keane

Engage, Inform, Inspire

Did you see it? The Fact Factory’s first TV appearance on none other than last night’s episode of BBC1’s Dragons’ Den! To get onto Dragons’ Den is an achievement in itself and, although Stephen didn’t get the investment, lots of exciting things are happening here at News Mag Media/Audio Mag Media. The Fact Factory really is going from strength to strength!

But back to Stephen’s TV appearance. It’s not every day you get to take part in a major TV show so we thought it would be great to get some insight from Stephen about what it’s like to appear on Dragons’ Den. So, he took some time out to answer a few questions about the experience. 

What inspired you to apply for Dragons’ Den?

I know this sounds very cliché, but I have watched the show since it began – since the days of the grouchy but entertaining Scotsman Duncan Bannatyne. And it is fair to say that I always toyed with the idea of appearing on it someday. When we completed The Fact Factory, I thought it may finally be something we could and should try. So, we applied! 

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be on the show?

Delighted, to be fair. The fear only really kicked in closer to the date! But one thing I was not ready for was the work that had to go into the application. It was immense. So, I suppose knowing that all that work was not in vain was a great relief too. 

What was the process on the day of the show? Eg. Did you have a briefing with the producer? Hair and make up? 

We’re asked not to reveal the behind-the-scenes details – not that anything sinister, gossipy or incredible happened – but yes, I did have my make-up done (for the first time in my life, I promise) and the people there to help you were incredibly kind! It was the same recording studios that Coronation Street was/is filmed in, so it was like walking into a live museum of TV shows, with pictures of stars old and new peering down at you. There was another company there ready to pitch for investment in their business, so I was in good company! 

Is it as daunting as it looks on TV?

To me, watching it on TV makes it looks like a piece of cake. You get up, you pitch, you woo the Dragons, you stuff the money in your pocket, and you walk away, right? And anyone who messes up must be a right old fool. Yes? Well, I can tell you – no matter how prepared you think you are, when the lights go on and you’re left standing in front of the five Dragons, everything disappears before you and you spend the first few minutes trying to tread the water and find out of you are in the shallow or the deep end. Ha! That makes it sound awful … let me adjust it to ‘awfully daunting’! 

It is obviously edited for TV, how long were you actually in the Den?

I’m not quite sure, but you are probably in there around an hour, or most of it. It gets whittled down to somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes. 

Were you excited to pitch The Fact Factory?

Yes! The Fact Factory is now four years in the making (three at the time of the show), so it was great to be able to finally put it up on a pedestal for all to see. 

Did you get to practise your pitch?

I did, and I had to send over a mock pitch (videoed) too. But, in reality, the pitch is the easy part. It is the entourage of questions that keep the pressure on, no matter how well you think you have prepared. 

Was there anything that surprised you about the whole experience? Anything you didn’t expect?

Again, I think the immediate pressure you feel when the lights turn on. I don’t normally operate under conditions like that. I don’t act, I don’t sing, I don’t address too many people in my line of work, so maybe I lacked a little bit of composure in those opening moments. But I try not to dwell on that. 

The other thing that really caught me off guard was seeing the actual set and props in the flesh, and more so the Dragons. I haven’t met many celebrities in my life so to have these big names sit three metres away from you and hang onto (no, scrutinise) your every word – that took me by surprise! 

Did you get to meet the Dragons afterwards or did you just see them in the Den?

No. They were recording for the day, and I was first on that morning, so no doubt I was hightailing it to the airport by the time they were having their lunch! 

Would you ever be tempted to do it again?

What do they say – you get one shot at the title? Well, that was my one shot – at the Dragons anyway. So, no, I won’t be applying again. 

What advice would you give anyone else who is thinking about applying for Dragons’ Den?

Everyone knows to go prepared. So, if you take that as a given, then I would advise people to think of the questions they would most NOT like to hear come from the Dragons. I would also advise people to role play the part of a Dragon on a very grumpy day. What holes could they pick in the business if they just wanted to be utterly mean or pedantic. Now, before anyone accuses me of saying the Dragons were all of the above – they most certainly were not – it is just a good way for you to consider the worst-case scenario and, most importantly, be ready for it! 

Did you find it a positive experience?

Yes, I did. I have always dreamed of going on Dragons’ Den, so it was a milestone I am proud of. 

Thank you, Stephen for a really insightful interview about something that most of us will never get to experience! And congratulations on showcasing The Fact Factory to the Dragons and the BBC viewers – you showed that it really is no ordinary magazine! And who knows what is next for The Fact Factory?

Watch this space.

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