Be original! That’s the significant lesson the Lions’ Den contestants took away when the business reality show made its debut on television last Sunday.
Produced by Ultima Studios and sponsored by Ecobank and Chapel Hill Denham as well as supported by Bank of Industry and Development Bank of Nigeria, Lions’ Den, which provides budding entrepreneurs investment opportunities through successful pitches, will air on DStv’s Africa Magic for the next three months.
The maiden edition parades five Lions who are regarded as potential investors in the businesses of budding entrepreneurs that pitch their business ideas on the reality show. The Lions are looking to give back to the society and help Nigerians fulfill their dreams and ambitions. As such, if they see the potential in an entrepreneur’s idea or product, they will invest in it in exchange for some equity in the business.
On this show, the Lions are five high-flying entrepreneurs including Mr. Kyari Bukar, co-founder and managing partner, Trans Sahara Investments Corporation; Adenike Ogunlesi, founder and creative director, Ruff ‘N’ Tumble; and Paul Onwuanibe, founder and CEO, Landmark Group. Others are Dan Ngerem, chairman, Hensen Group; and Bolaji Balogun, CEO, Chapel Hill Denham.
In the Lions’ Den, however, are four budding entrepreneurs: Mr. Oke Ese, maker of a power stove equipment which could also be used to charge phones and sundry devices; Ms Bukola Adebomi, owner of Scentify, producer of scented candles and room sprays; Ese Okey Oruade, owner of SEIL whose firm produces non-contact hand-washing machines; and Michelle Omoregha, founder of 989Spaces, a brand whose unique selling point is the provision of affordable, functional and flexible work spaces for people.
All the four entrepreneurs came into the Lions’ Den with high hopes, pitching their business ideas in exchange for millions of naira as investments from the gurus in the Den. But at the end of the day, only two of them were successful with their pitches. They are Oke Ese who came looking for N40 million for his firm. Four of the Lions forked out N40 million to earn 40 percent shares in Ese’s firm. Reasons for buying into his business, according to them, are Ese’s ability to spot opportunities and knowing his onions in the sector. But Paul, one of the Lions, declined, advising Ese to go look for bank loans rather than splitting his equity.
The other successful entrepreneur is Michelle of 989Spaces whose pitch for N100 million in exchange for 10 percent of her equity was successful. Four of the Lions bought into her company while Paul once again declined on the ground of transparency having known Michelle before the show. Nevertheless, the duo of Scentify’s Bukola and SEIL’s Oruade were not successful with their pitches. They were turned down due to the non-scalability and un-bankability of their business ideas.