When husband and wife team, Kate and Matt Ball were invited to pitch for an investment on top BBC One show Dragons’ Den, they made it a family affair. It certainly paid off. Thanks to the help of four of their six young children, Kate and Matt were successful in attracting an investment from Dragon and top entrepreneur, Sara Davies.
But what we all want to know is what happened BEHIND the scenes? What was it like to pitch in the famously frightening Den? I sat down with Mini First Aid Founder and Director, the lovely Kate Ball to get all the backstage gossip!
Kate, congratulations on your successful pitch in the Den!
Thank you, it’s a relief that it’s all out in the open now!
I bet! When did the actual filming take place?
October last year, so it’s been a big secret to keep, especially with the children involved!
I can’t believe you took 4 of your kids into the Den – that was a brave move!! What was the thought process behind that?
Our business is built on family, the kids really are at the heart of what we do and we work flexibly so they had to be part of it. And, clearly, they are much better on camera than us!!
I can’t get over the fact you’ve got 6 kids and found time to go on Dragons’ Den – what logistics did you have to put in place to actually make this happen?!
We decided (bravely) to take 4 of the 6 into the Den with us to demonstrate children learning first aid. This meant seeking permissions from school and pre-schools, extra covid restrictions and precautions and taking a babysitter with us to help during the filming. We stayed in a hotel next to the studio overnight the night before, and all had to be at the studio before 7am, it was no mean feat! To say we were tired before we even got in the Den is an understatement!
Wow, Kate, I think every parent out there can relate to the early morning craziness – it must have meant a lot to you to go on the show considering the hurdles you had to jump to get there!!
Definitely - after such a challenging year, I just wanted to give our franchisees the opportunity to be busy teaching first aid again and get more parents, carers and children learning first aid after seeing the show. And of course an investment from a Dragon would make a massive difference to our ability to teach first aid to as many people as possible. Initially I was nervous that our business would be criticised for not making enough money, we run the business in a very philanthropic way which might not appeal to an investor. But then Matt convinced me that whatever the outcome, no-one could criticise what Mini First Aid does, first aid is vital.
You’ve mentioned the all important investment – did you have a Dragon in mind before you did your pitch?
We wanted to work with Sara. We love her ethos, we knew she had children and would get what we do, and we knew that she could do great things for our business.
So . . . getting on to the important stuff . . . you look amazing in the Den Kate! Can you tell us about what goes on behind the scenes in hair and make up?!
We had all had a hair cut with our lovely Leeds hairdresser the day before the show. On the day Matt and I were treated to makeup – it’s funny because they worked for a long time on reducing shine on Matt’s head, so he almost got more pampering time than me! And you know what it’s like as a mum - I had to have an extensive concealer job on the many ‘mum’ bruises on my legs!
Brilliant!! I’m sure all parents can relate to that one! One of the iconic things about the show is the scene in the lift – what was going on in your head?
It feels like forever! I was heard through my microphone by the sound engineers promising the kids McDonald’s after we’d been in the Den if they were good!
Love that, classic parent bribe! Did it work?
Emily one of our younger twins was telling the dragons to ssh (they used the shot in the adverts running earlier in the year) and Olivia the other twin was waving at everyone – it actually helped relax us all!
Children really are amazing at that! How long were the kids in the Den?
The pitch has to be no longer than 3 minutes, then the children left and Matt and I had a further 1 hour and 45 minutes of questions. Stood on the same spot, it was FULL ON.
Getting the pitch right is critical - how many times did you run through it to practice?
Over and over and over, I can say it in my sleep!
Were there any moments in the Den where your minds went blank?
Both of us got stuck on numbers – Matt is the absolute pro when it comes to the business numbers but for a moment, following a question from one of the Dragons, Matt’s mind went blank and I just stood staring at him wanting the ground to swallow us both up.
That must have been terrifying!! How did you feel when you exited the Den?
We gave each other a friendly punch on the shoulder – it was exhilarating, and the adrenaline was really pumping.
Now that the show has aired and you’ve had a bit of time to reflect, what are your hopes for life after Dragons’ Den?
We want each of the Mini First Aid franchisees and trainers to be super busy, training more and more parents, carers and children – putting learning first aid right up there on the priority list. And we hope you’ll see a lot more of Mini First Aid in some of your favourite retailers from now on!
Thank you so much Kate, as a huge fan of the show that has been fascinating! I am very relieved you survived the Den without needing first aid yourself!
If Kate and Matt have inspired you to learn first aid, you can book an award winning local class HERE