Dragons’ Den Peter Jones tells YogaBugs… “You’ll live to regret this.”

“You’ll live to regret this” That’s what Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Peter Jones told YogaBugs founders, Fenella Lindsell and Lara Goodbody after they turned down funding offers for their child-focussed business YogaBugs.

We asked The Bugs Group CEO Mark Goode, what happened and how did it influence the business over the years

When Nell and Lara appeared on Dragons’ Den in August 2006 they were asking for a £200,000 investment to develop what was our franchise operation at the time and a way of improving the cash flow for the company. “Dragons” Theo Paphitis and Peter Jones both offered them the money, but for double the percentage of the business that they wanted to offer. They said no. “Dragon” Richard Farleigh then offered them £200,000 on his own but for 30 percent of the business. Again, somehow the two of them held out. In fact, once the cameras were off, Peter Jones even offered to buy the whole company for £1.5m. however, after great thought the two of them again said no.

£1.5m is a great deal of money for a company that had not even got off the ground yet and I guess a lot of people would have took the money and ran, I think at the time the belief in the business was such that no price was going to get them to walk away from their dream.

The day after it aired we actually fielded another 17 serious offers, more than 1,000 emails but we did make some fantastic contacts.

 

Did they do the right thing?

Well, YogaBugs has grown into a multi-million pound operation with not only classes across the UK but offices now in Australia, China and Singapore as well as receiving enquiries from around the world on a regular basis.

YogaBugs also now forms part of The Bugs Group, joining together with FootieBugs, DanceBugs, RugbyBugs, TennisBugs and MultiBugs. All with the aim of encouraging children to enjoy the world of sport.

 

But what makes YogaBugs so successful…

In a nutshell, YogaBugs is a way of bringing the benefits of yoga inspired movement to children aged between 2½ -7 years, with “Yoga’d Up” catering for children aged 8-12 years. Traditional yoga postures, breathing and relaxation techniques are taught through story adventures that are aimed at capturing the children’s imagination.

Many yoga postures have child-friendly names, such as, Dog, Surfer and Crab and the classes incorporate a series of warm-up exercises, a story for the younger children and fun-themed classes for the Yoga’d Up age group. They include between 15 to 30 yoga postures, games, songs and relaxation time.

 

What better non-competitive, all-inclusive sport can you get?

To date YogaBugs now have over 40,000 children taking classes each week (many via private funding, or free funding via Schools Sports partnership & lottery funding grants).

It has also trained over 1,200 teachers and is constantly expanding.

“Turning down the Dragons was quite something,” I guess “We will never know what would have happen if we had taken the money” but I think most people would say it has all worked out very well in the end.

 

To watch YogaBugs on Dragon’s Den Click here

To find out more about YogaBugs or The Bugs Group Click here

 

What Was It Like To Be In The Dragons Den?

“It’s a steep climb up 25 steps to reach the Dragons, and with each one, the terror mounts in you. It really is extraordinarily scary. You’re so nervous that you’re worried that you’ll  forget your pitch and are unable to breathe. You’ve no idea how long you’re going to be in the Den. The person in before Lara and I was out in 20 minutes with the sound of rejection ringing loudly in his ears!”

Fenella and Lara first decided to apply to Dragons Den in 2005, having figured that if others could do it, so could they. The odds were stacked against them. Of the 800 applications received, only 10% would be invited to pitch to the Dragons. They sent a summary of their business proposal off to the BBC and soon afterwards were called to a selection interview.

Once the BBC confirmed that they’d been invited to pitch to the Dragons, Fenella and Lara started to prepare in earnest. Thorough preparation was essential. The old adage “practice makes perfect” was their mantra. Fenella and Lara had seen enough of the Dragons in action to know that they could not show a single chink in their armour. The Dragons would ask them about every aspect of the business and try to trip them up. So they practised their three minute pitch to anybody who would listen – taking advice from successful business people – adjusting and refining their presentation over and over again. They even made sure they could step in to cover for one another, should one get nervous and forget her lines.

So focused on their business and financial forecasts were the girls that they hadn’t prepared to do any yoga. Yoga teacher, Fenella, was dressed in tight trousers and a pair of high heels! In the event, getting down on the floor to “row down the river” was visually good because this captured the Dragon’s attention and eased the tension. Once the pitch was finished, Richard Farley enthused “You girls have blown me away.” This boosted Fenella and Lara’s confidence as they realised that they had at least one Dragon on their side. After a 2½ hour grilling, the Dragons were finally ready to make an offer. The girls wanted £200,000 for a 15% equity stake in YogaBugs. Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis offered the full amount with caveats but wanted a 30% chunk of the business, whilst Richard Farley’s offer came without conditions.

As Fenella and Lara turned the Dragons’ offer down, Peter Jones sank his head in his hands. If a Dragon makes you an offer, you don’t usually turn it down. However a stake of 25% or more would have meant losing control of the Company so Fenella and Lara decided to walk away. Giving up such a large stake as was too high a price to pay for the two business partners. The Dragons’ positive responses and investment offers reinforced Fenella and Lara’s confidence in their business strategy.

Fenella and Lara were re-filmed the following year and more recently this summer as a follow up to their story.They were delighted that the Dragons had responded in such a positive way, respecting the reasons why the business partners had turned them down.

The Lady Who Turned Down The Dragons!

Anyone who watches Dragons’ Den will know it’s hard enough to secure investment offers from the Dragons. So it was all the more surprising that YogaBugs founder, Nell Lindsell, turned three offers down! You can catch up with the latest chapter in the YogaBugs adventure on Wednesday evening’s BBC2 programme, ‘Dragons’ Den: How To Win In The Den.’ 

You only have to look at Nell’s background to understand how her determination and energy, coupled with her great love of yoga, drives her forward. She does all this, in common with many women, by juggling her busy working life with being a mother – to a family of four children. Nell first discovered yoga when she went to India on what she describes as ‘walkabout.’ As a child Nell spent countless hours doing gymnastics. She found that yoga embodied the flexibility and creativity of gymnastics, but with a great deal more safety and creativity.

Originally Nell studied Sivananda Yoga and deepened her practice by studying with Iyengar, Ashtanga and Jivamukti teachers both in the UK as well as the States. Her teachers have included Shiva Rea, David Swenson, David Life and Baron Baptiste. Nell went on to train as a yoga teacher with the British Wheel of Yoga and to run a large complementary health and yoga centre in South West London. It was there that she developed and refined her concept of yoga for children – YogaBugs and Yoga’d Up – having realised that children today have far fewer opportunities to stretch their imagination as well as their bodies compared to previous generations.

If Nell was to achieve her dream of bringing yoga to children in nurseries and schools across the UK, she realised that YogaBugs would require significant further investment. That’s when she first entered the Den, and as a result YogaBugs started to become a recognised  name. Nell and her business partner, Lara Goodbody, asked for a £200,000 investment in exchange for a 15% equity stake of their business. They secured – and to the Dragons’ amazement – turned down two offers of investment from Richard Farleigh and Theo Paphitis! After the programme, Peter Jones offered to buy the business for £1.5milion. Nell and Lara turned Peter down too.

This led to Nell producing a series of yoga adventures for GMTV and a DVD called Yoga Bugs Vol.1 – Ocean And Jungle Yoga Stories. She then wrote The One Bug Your Kids Should Catch and contributed to ‘The Exercise Bible’ by Joanna Hall as well as ‘Your Body, Your Baby, Your Birth’ by Jenny Smith. Nell is currently the Yoga Consultant to RDF Media on their new and successful CBeebies’ programme Waybuloo which is transmitted worldwide to Australia, Poland, South Africa and Canada and around 75 other countries now.

As founder of YogaBugs, Nell’s role has involved setting up and implementing our franchise programme and international trademarking. As a result, there are currently around 40,000 children attending classes each week in nurseries and schools across the UK.  The company recently sold its first Master Franchise for YogaBugs Australia and Nell flew down under to deliver training there in 2010.

Nell has now taught yoga for 20 years. Her extraordinary achievements in yoga result from that first walkabout in India!