Tag Archives: business

620. British TV: Dragons’ Den (Part 2) Negotiation

Listen to a real business negotiation and learn loads of English in the process. Vocabulary, scripts and notes available below.

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Transcript & Notes

Welcome back to LEP. This is part 2 of this mini series I’m going to do about BBC Dragons’ Den, the TV show about entrepreneurs trying to raise finance for their business startups by going to meet the Dragons – a group of 5 business angels looking to make money by investing in interesting new business propositions.

In part 1 of this I did a long business ramble all about the different factors and considerations involved in an entrepreneur attempting to do an investment deal with a private equity investor. That covered loads of vocabulary relating to loads of different areas of business and laid the ground work for this episode in which we are going to use a real pitch from an episode of Dragons’ Den as a case study from which we can learn loads of English.

Also, the story of this particular investment is particularly interesting and the negotiation takes an unexpected turn which creates more emotional drama than you might expect from a business meeting.

So, at the end of part 1 we listened to Kirsty Henshaw’s original pitch. Let’s listen to that again and break it down for language. After that we’ll listen to the rest of the meeting in bits. We’ll listen and then listen again and break it all down.

This should be a really good one! I hope you’re listening carefully. We might be able to get all of this done in this episode, we will see. There are other Dragons’ Den pitches that I’d like to do too so I might add another episode with some other pitches as well. So perhaps this will be a 3 or 4 part series.

Right, so let’s listen to Kirsty Henshaw again and remember my questions from before.

  • How much investment does she need? £65,000
  • What equity stake is she offering in return? 15%
  • What exactly is the product? A healthy alternative to ice-cream – a frozen dessert (free from dairy, sugar, soya, nuts – everything! But what’s actually in it?)
  • Why does she need the investment? To buy stock, raise brand awareness with marketing and PR

Would you like to invest?
What questions would you like to ask next?

Kirsty’s pitch begins at 44:00

Peter Jones
It tastes more like frozen yoghurt. Is that fair?
– She wanted a healthy option, similar to ice cream but there’s no dairy that’s why it’s a frozen desert.
How much has it cost so far?
How many have you sold?
2,500 units
Went to a big meeting with a large supermarket – it’s completely unique, some of the staff had heard about it before
Do you have any forecasts in the first year?
– 300,000 units – starting to get into bigger places now

Duncan Bannatyne
How healthy is it? How much fat is in it?
– Less than 3% fat in all of them, no sugar in any, carbohydrates are from fruit extracts, a good form of sugar

James Caan
What are the ingredients?
Brown rice milk (because soya isn’t great for children and rice milk is a good digestive enzyme), the fat is organic virgin coconut oil, sweetened with extract of apple, carob and grape.

Deborah Meaden
How far are you down the track with the supermarket?
– Min 400 stores from Sept when they do their refresh
Are they committed?
– At least 350-400 stores to trial it

Theo Paphetis
Which supermarket is it?
– Tesco
They must have asked you whether you could produce in the right volume?
What did you say?
– I said yes because I’ve spoken to the manager of the biggest ice cream manufacturers and they can make it no problem, if we get the order (volume – numbers)

James Caan
Do you have any idea what Tesco’s potentially could order?
– At least four flavours for each store to start with
How many in a case?
If they sold one case per week per store, that’s 400 cases. How much do you make per unit?
– Just over one pound
So 4,000 per week is what you’d make. That’s 200,000 a year.
– Not including my current suppliers
What did you forecast your profit in year one?
– £300,000
So that forecast is not a million miles out. There’s some substance around it.

What’s your background?
Uni (sports science), but had to leave because mind was on the business

Who is Worhingshaw’s?
– Mix of boyfriend and her name – to make it sound like it had been around for a while
Have you really done all this on your own?
– Yes
How do you invest the money in this?
– 2 jobs and a bit of a night job, and my little boy
You’re pretty amazing aren’t you?
– No, not really.
[She starts crying]
This has been really tough for you hasn’t it?
– I just do it all for my little boy. I just want him to have a good life.
I’ve got to be honest with you. I’m finding it really really difficult to actually take on board what you’ve achieved. It’s phenomenal. I’m totally blown away by it. I’m going to make you an offer. You’ve come in here asking for 60,000 for 15% but I want 40%.
And I’ll explain to you why. Because I’m not going to give you 60,000, I’m giving you 100,000 because that’s what I believe you need to make this business successful.

Deborah Meaden
Let me tell you where I am. I think you’ve done a great job against all odds, but here’s my blunt and honest truth to you. I’m not going to beat Theo’s offer so I’m not going to waste my time making you one. Thank you very much but I’m out.

Peter Jones
Where do you want to take it? You’d love to see this product in every shop. Reggae Reggae Sauce was a big success because of Levi Roots’ whole story. You could be the frozen desert version of Levi Roots.

For that reason I’d like to make you an offer for the full amount but I only want 25% of the company.

James Caan
Let me wish you every success but you’re not going to need my offer so I’m out (there are already deals on the table).

Duncan Bannatyne
I’ll match Peter’s offer (£60,000 for 25%)

I don’t want to give 40% away but thank you for your offer Theo.
I’m really confused now because I know you’re both brilliant.
You’re both ideal to help me, so I don’t really know what to do now.

If we raised it to 30% so we got 15% each, I’m more than happy to work with Duncan if that’s something he would accept (yes).

I’d really like to work with both of you. It would be ideal so thank you very much I’d really like to accept your offers.

That’s it!

What do you think? Would you like some more Dragons’ Den on the podcast?

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

619. British TV: Dragons’ Den (Part 1) Vocabulary

Learn tons of business vocabulary in context in this episode all about a TV show about entrepreneurs negotiating investment for their business startups. Notes & scripts available below.

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Transcript & Notes

Hello and welcome to LEP#619. How are you today? All good I hope.

In this episode of LEP we’re going to look at a popular BBC TV show which is now in its 17th series on BBC2. We’re going to listen to some clips, I’ll help you understand it all like a native speaker and we’ll be mining the whole thing for vocabulary too. I’ve done episodes like this before about British TV including Top Gear and Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Both of those are available in the episode archive. Now it’s the turn of one of my favourites – Dragons Den.

You might be thinking, “Dragons’ Den. What is that? Is it some kind of Game of Thrones thing, a fantasy thing with dragons and stuff?”

No, not at all. In fact this series is all about business startups, entrepreneurs, investors, negotiations and pitching new business ideas.

It’s based on a Japanese TV format. So, Japanese LEPsters might be familiar with DD already. Also it might exist in other countries too. It’s been on the BBC since 2005. I really enjoy watching it and also using clips in class, which I have been doing for years now and is one of my favourite things to do in English lessons. I could spend a whole week on Dragons Den, with all the vocab, the listening, and then doing role plays of business presentations, negotiations and discussions. This is the first time I’ve dipped my toe into Dragons’ Den on the podcast.

There will be tons of business vocabulary in this episode as well as a chance to test your listening skills as we listen to clips of this show including people presenting their businesses and negotiating an investment.

What I’m going to do is this

  • Introduce to the topic, with quite a lot of business vocabulary relating to everything involved in starting up a new business and raising finance for it.
  • Play you some clips from Dragons Den, when one person pitches their business idea and dragons start negotiating, and I’ll break it down for vocabulary.

I’ll explain a bit of the vocab as we go through this episode, and there will be a lot of context to help you but mainly I want to focus on just listening to clips from the show and then helping you understand everything. Really, one of my aims at LEP is to help you appreciate things like TV, films and comedy more easily in English, or at least to be able to use them to help you learn English more effectively.

So we’ll focus on the clips after an introduction from me, and then I can deal with the vocabulary more specifically in a premium series, which I’m also working on.

OK, so let’s get into the details of this TV show Dragons’ Den.

First let me explain the title.

Dragons’ Den – what does it mean?

Dragons’ Den. A den of dragons.

To walk into the lions’ den (the place where the lions live) = to deliberately put yourself in a position of danger or difficulty

Usually this means to face a difficult situation, like going into a room full of people who will criticise you. Imagine a politician involved in a scandal going into a room full of journalists. He’s walking into the lions’ den.

A “den” is a kind of place where Lions might live. It could be a clearing in a forest, maybe within the roots of a tree, maybe surrounded by some rocks. A place where the lions hang out and sleep. That’s a den. Kids also build dens in their bedrooms. They take blankets and pillows and drape them over chairs and tables to make little dens which they can then hide in and play inside.

In this case its Dragons’ Den, so this is like a lions’ den but even more scary and dangerous! I think it’s just that dragons are better analogies for scary, no-nonsense business people than lions. Also, it sounds cool “Dragons’ Den”.

So, the dragons are the investors in their leather chairs. The den is a kind of renovated warehouse that could be somewhere in East London maybe, in a trendy new business district. The 5 dragons are sitting in a line with their plush leather chairs, sharp suits, pads and pens, side tables with glasses of water and piles of cash! The cash is just for show of course (there are quite a few lingering shots of the money).

The entrepreneurs are nervous, feeling the pressure. They walk up some tight spiral stairs into the room and the dragons eye them all up judgementally.

Then the entrepreneur starts his or her pitch. The dragons ask questions and drill down into the business plan and then there are some negotiations for the investment.

The entrepreneur is looking for an investment of a certain amount. In return they are offering a portion of the equity of the company.

Equity in this case means the ownership of the company. If you imagine a pie chart or a pizza, perhaps, if you prefer. Imagine that pizza. 100% of it is mine. But I might choose to sell some parts of that pizza to an investor. Let’s say I give them 20% of the pizza for about £20,000. In terms of a business this means that the investor gets 20% of the profits that the company makes. In return I get cash which I can use to get the business going in various ways.

So equity refers to ownership of the company and it is divided into shares. Sometimes it is referred to as an equity stake. So an investor might have a 20% equity stake in a company, for example. The entrepreneur holds onto an 80% equity stake.

This is how finance can be raised. Instead of getting a loan and paying interest you kind of liquidate part of the company to get the cash but you also get the support of an investor too, and that’s the other thing the dragons offer. Not just cash but also some business acumen and contacts to help them get a foot in the door.

The dragons have actually financed a few successful businesses in the past on this show, ones that have made it to the supermarkets or even become household names.

Yes, all the businesses are real, all the money is real and the deals are real, but apparently after making agreements on the TV show, necessary due diligence is done before the deal is officially sealed.

But it’s all real. Real people, real businesses, real money. OK.

We’ll meet the Dragons in a moment, but first I have a vocab list here which I am going to go through in a kind of ramble, a business ramble. Luke’s Business Rambles – could be a good series…

I might briefly explain these terms as we go but my main focus is to try and put all these words into a rambling monologue about why an entrepreneur would need to raise finance for a new business. I plan to go over all of this in more detail in an upcoming premium episode.


Let’s imagine that I have a new business. I’ve invented a pen that goes red or flashes when you make a grammar mistake. Let’s say there’s software you can download for it. It connects to your devices by Bluetooth and you can get different functions, but it’s like Grammarly in a pen.

Why would a startup need to raise finance?

  • Pay for stock, manufacturing costs, hire staff, find facilities, pay for marketing (how are you going to get people to know about it)

  • contacts for retail

  • dealing with a logistics chain

  • Business plan

  • Cost price

  • List price

  • Retail price (RRP)

  • Mark up

  • Margin

  • Profit (net and gross)

  • Manufacturers

  • Wholesalers

  • Retailers

  • B to B

  • B to C

  • SWOT analysis

  • Projected sales figures

  • Turnover

  • Projected turnover

  • Income

  • Revenue

  • Return on Investment (ROI)

  • Ask the bank for a loan

  • Get family to lend you money

  • Use a government scheme

  • Venture capitalists

  • Equity investors

  • Business angels

  • Pitch

  • Elevator pitch

  • Investment amount

  • equity/shares

  • stock/stocks

  • Negotiate

  • Patent (pending)

  • Competitors

  • Valuation of your company

  • “I’m out”

Meet The Dragons

Peter Jones
At age 16 he set up a tennis academy.
He now has a £250m empire in leisure, telecoms & media.

Deborah Meaden
Made millions in the holiday and leisure industriesShe sold a stake in her company in a £30m deal, while maintaining 23% of the company.

Duncan Bannatyne
From Glasgow. He’s worth over £170m.
He owns “Bannatyne’s” health clubs, casinos and hotels.

Theo Paphetis
He’s a retail specialist.
He takes failing companies and transforms them into thriving businesses – Partners, Ryman.

James Caan
Originally born in Pakistan, his family moved to the UK when he was 2.
Was initially successful in recruitment, setting up several high level recruitment companies which he then sold for large amounts of profit. He is also the founder and current CEO of the UK-based private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw.

How it works

When the Dragons are interested in an investment they will say “I’m interested…” and will then make an offer.

The rules are that the entrepreneur must get the investment amount they are asking for, or more. The percentage equity stake is what is negotiated.

If a Dragon is not interested in the investment they will declare themselves out by saying “I’m out” and explaining their reason.

“I’m out” has become a sort of catchphrase that you can use in reference to the show.

Dragons’ Den Series 8 Episode 1 (also contains a brutal takedown of an entrepreneur [1st pitch] and an interesting exchange/argument in the wine pitch, with a v nervous presenter)

Kirsty Henshaw – Frozen Desserts

A part-time barmaid looking for investment in her food business.

Listen to the pitch from 44:00

  • How much investment does she need? £65,000
  • What equity stake is she offering in return? 15%
  • What exactly is the product? A healthy alternative to ice-cream – a frozen dessert (free from dairy, sugar, soya, nuts – everything! But what’s actually in it?)
  • Why does she need the investment? To buy stock, raise brand awareness with marketing and PR
  • Would you like to invest?
  • What questions would you like to ask next?

Kirsty’s pitch begins at 44:00

To be continued in part 2…

391. Discussing Language, Culture & Comedy with Alexander van Walsum

Here is a new episode featuring a conversation with a friend of mine who originally comes from the Netherlands but he has lived all over the world. You’re going to hear us talking about cultural differences, Dutch stereotypes, doing business in France, the UK and the USA, the different communication styles in those places, doing stand up comedy and getting Darth Vader’s signature. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it.

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Alex performing at Le Paname Art Cafe in Paris


You can see Alex performing at “WTF Paris? – Comedy Therapy for Expats” with Amber Minogue at the SoGymnase comedy club in Paris every Friday evening at 8pm. Details here https://www.weezevent.com/wtf-paris

315. Do me a favour – Take my Business English Survey!


Hello listeners, this episode of the podcast is entitled: Do me a favour – Take my business English survey! It’s called that because I’d like to invite you to take a very quick survey on my website. You can find the survey at https://teacherluke.co.uk/businessenglishsurvey. Please do take the survey. It’ll just take you a couple of minutes, but it will be extremely helpful for me because I’m planning new ways to help you. So, do me a favour and take the survey! Listen to this whole episode to find out all the details. There’s a transcript available too.

Here’s the survey (just below). The audio and transcript for this episode are under the survey. Just scroll down a bit and you’ll find them. Please do take the survey. Listen to the episode to find out more. Thanks! Luke

SURVEY: What do you want to know about business English?

Don’t worry – I will not give your email address to anyone else, I hate spam.

Choose any of the options below :)


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Hi listeners, I hope you’re well and fine and fit and healthy and all that. This episode of the podcast is called: Do me a favour – Take my business English survey! I’m going to tell you more about that in just a moment but first…

I hope you’ve been enjoying recent episodes of the podcast, including the ones about Words of the Year, the one about comedian Tim Vine (which I might follow up with a second part soon) and then the relaxing sleep meditation episode that I uploaded the just other day. Don’t forget to send me your photos for the LEP photo competition – podcastcomp@gmail.com. For more details of the photo competition, just go back to episode 313, I explained it all then. The photo competition closes on 15 January 2016, so you have plenty of time to find out all the details and then send me your photos. I’ve already received some photos and there are some really interesting images in there, which I’m looking forward to sharing. A lot of people have sent me photos of them listening in the car while driving. I should say – please do be careful when taking a photo in the car. Remember to pay attention to the road at all times. Be careful when taking a photo while driving.

Now, let’s talk about episode 315, that’s this one. And this is not really a normal episode of Luke’s English Podcast – it’s just a quick spoken message from me to you, because I’d like you to do me a favour and take a survey on my website.

Essentially – I’m looking at ways of expanding my online services and I’m planning to do a business English course, alongside LEP (not instead of it) and I’d like to find out what you really want to know about learning business English. That’s the purpose of the survey.

I’ve been teaching business English for over 10 years and I really enjoy it. I have taught business English to thousands of people from around the world who work in many different jobs. It’s fascinating meeting these people because I get to explore their work and I can help them directly with the communication skills in English that they can then use to get more success in their lives.

I actually think it’s my favourite thing to teach, but I’ve never taught business English on Luke’s English Podcast. I’ve always focused this podcast on ‘general English’, just because that gives me the freedom to focus episodes of the podcast on absolutely any topic under the sun, whereas in business English you need to keep it more specific. I know from listener feedback that LEP is really helpful. But, I know that I can also help you a lot with the English you might need for your job or career.

In fact, I’ve been waiting for ages to share my business English teaching experience with you, and I think that I’m ready to start doing that now – not on Luke’s English Podcast – don’t worry – I’m not about to announce a big change or anything – LEP will stay the same. I’m talking about offering you another service, separate to Luke’s English Podcast, which will focus on communication skills for professional life.

That brings me to this survey. The survey I’d like you to take is a way for you to tell me exactly how I can help with your business English. I just want you to get involved by giving me your thoughts.

You can find the survey on my website – either on the page for this episode (episode 315) or on https://teacherluke.co.uk/businessenglishsurvey. It’s a very simple survey in which you just have to answer a couple of questions. It’ll take only a couple of minutes, but it will really help me to focus my service on your specific needs. So, go to https://teacherluke.co.uk/businessEnglishsurvey or just find the page for this episode (315).

It’s really simple – just answer a few questions and bob’s your uncle.
Basically, I’m doing this in the same way that I would run a business English course at school. I always start by asking my students for their input before I plan the course – that way I can make sure it’s designed to meet their needs, and ultimately it’s the best way to get results.

I’m pretty excited because I think I could make a big difference to your professional English, in ways that can really help your life and career, and because I’m about to embark on a new creative project – and that’s what I love doing.

So, I really want to know any questions you have about learning business English.
What are your thoughts, worries, needs or doubts about English for work?
Even if you think business English is somehow boring, corporate or formal or something – I want to know what you think.

I’m not saying LEP is going to become a business English podcast. Don’t worry, that’s not going to happen. At this point, I’m just planning other ways to help you.

So, please take the survey – I’m waiting to hear from you!

Business English doesn’t have to be boring and corporate
I know what many of you might be thinking – “I don’t like ‘business English’ – it’s boring and corporate. It reminds me of work and bosses and management and job interviews and stuff like that.

Not necessarily. English for work does not have to be boring and corporate. Quite the opposite. For me, the English you use in a professional context is pretty much the same English you use in your personal life, it’s just a bit more specific and practical.

In fact, business English and general English are pretty much the same thing, it’s just that business English is a bit more specific.

Let me explain what I mean a bit.

Firstly, business English isn’t boring.
It can be funny, fascinating, exciting and perhaps most importantly – very useful. The bottom line is, it can help you get success, personal value and money which you can use to do the things that you love. This makes it useful and empowering for you.

Secondly, the language of business English is just as vibrant and personal as general English.
Any moment that you use English, or any language, you’re doing it for a purpose. It could be to build relationships, buy something, ask for information when you’re travelling, make someone laugh, or even try to get someone into bed. These are all situations in which you’re using English to achieve a particular goal, and to do them successfully you need certain communication skills – using the right words, speaking and understanding clearly, communicating with confidence, using the tone of your voice to indicate specific meanings, and using subtle shifts in language in order to be more persuasive, charming, direct, indirect, polite, respectful and powerful etc. It’s exactly the same in a business context. In fact, we use much the same language and language skills in general English as we do in business English, and people with good general English skills tend to do well in business English situations too – because at the end of the day, it’s about establishing meaningful human connections – like trust, respect, compromise and reward, and if you can do that – if you can make the right connections – you’ll have success. The thing I like about business English is that it’s all about focusing specifically on the communication skills you need for quite specific things – like how to quickly make a point in a meeting, how to disagree without offending someone, how to ask someone to do something without being rude, or how to persuade someone to do something for you. These are specific communication scenarios that require specific language.

Thirdly, it doesn’t have to be all about technical language.
It’s not just about knowing technical language, or understanding business theory, it’s about refining your ability to communicate effectively, and that’s why it’s actually fascinating and fun.

Fourth, business English shouldn’t be scary – it’s best when it’s fun.
In my experience people really learn business English best when they just play around, have fun and experiment with the language. It doesn’t have to have the bad atmosphere of work. You’re not at work, you’re in a classroom, building your communication skills and having fun at the same time.

Because of those reasons, I find business English to be really motivating to teach, and I’m looking forward to sharing my teaching experience with you somehow.

So, take the quick survey so that you can give your input – share your thoughts, doubts, questions, ideas with me.

Find episode 315 or just go to https://teacherluke.co.uk/businessEnglishsurvey

Have a good day!