The British TV series which features a panel of hard-to-impress venture capitalists saw Chika in Series 13, Episode 2…taming and bring them to their knees as she took control of the Den and had them begging to share in her snacks business startup.
So what sort of snacks was she pitching to the dragons?…wait for it…CHIN-CHIN!! Plenty of variations on crisps – chickpea crisps, plantain crisps (kpekere), sweet potato thins, you name them. Also tempting are the peanuts, “dried under the African sun” and hand-toasted over a wood fire.”
Chika explained that her product range was already stocked in 150 outlets across the UK since launch in February 2014 and said advanced discussions were underway with Waitrose for 130 stores. (rsp: £1.39 – £1.80).
So how exactly did Chika pitch her business strategy to convince these multi-millionaire investors?In a pitch that wowed all five Dragons, Chika made a confident entrance to the Den with a trio of West African dancers on the programme which aired on July 19. She asked for an investment of £30,000 for 5% equity to grow her food range of West African-inspired snacks, titled Chika’s.
Chika, who is a former city accountant made an impression from the off with her dancers who wafted trays of samples right under the Dragons’ noses….offering them a “taste of the exotic”. Chika’s is made with ingredients sourced from farmers in West Africa and is pitched as an “affordable luxury.”
Sarah Willingham was the first to express interest in Chika’s stating:
“I really love your product, I think there’s a massive market for African food in the UK.”
This interest peaked further when Russell outlined plans to extend the range to dry marinades and sweet potato crisps.Touker Suleyman was also taken by the product and wanted to know more about Russell’s export plans as he believed Russell could grow the business by selling the products back to Nigeria and Ghana – feedback which Russell accepted.
Enthusiasm for Chika’s products also extended to Nick Jenkins who was the first to make an offer – bidding £30,000 for 10% equity. Jenkins’ proposal was then followed by an offer of £30,000 for 20% from Deborah Meaden who felt Russell was “extremely capable”.
Next up was Willingham who wanted “to go on the journey” with Russell and made an offer of £30,000 for 20%, followed by Peter Jones who offered to give Russell £30,00 for 25% using his experience of building the Levi Roots brand as evidence of how he could make Chika’s into a successful brand.Suleyman made it a full house with his dramatic offer of £40,000 and a £30,000 credit facility “to help you grow, I think we can make a great team”.
With five deals on the table, Russell was left to negotiate and made the Dragons wait it out, a process which Jones dubbed “frustrating”. Yet Jones’ frustration didn’t last long as Russell announced she would accept Jones’ offer.
On Russell’s exit from the Den, Meaden asserted:
“I’ve never seen someone come in and hold their ground like that. At one point she had all of five of us pitching to her.”
I thought to share this inspiring story to encourage our Nigerian youths that even the things we consider to be most insignificant here has the potential of exploding into a multi-billion naira business empire. Start thinking hard!
Start-up business lesson: When taking a product business to investors, evidence of interest from retailers, growth projections and a high quality product are essential not just nice-to-haves. There’s also a lesson to be learnt in that Russell accepted an offer from Jones while giving away five times more equity than she had originally planned – the value of an investor can be worth as much as the investment.
Check out Chika’s Website: www.chikas.co.uk