Local ‘Dragons’ Den’ event for start-up businesses

By Ginny Ware   |   Totnes Reporter   |
Tuesday 17th May 2022 10:00 am
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Local Entrepreneur Forum organiser Jay Tompt (. )

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Five local start-up businesses are going head-to-head in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch for help.

The Totnes Local Entrepreneur Forum is celebrating its 10th birthday with a networking event at the Dartington-based New Lion Brewery – which made the very first pitch through the forum in 2012.

Running from 3pm to 8pm on Thursday May 19, the event will include a networking open space; breakouts and lots of opportunities for new and old entrepreneurs to connect, build relationships with peers, supporters and investors.

Following a pizza and beer break, all five new businesses will get the chance to the community of dragons – i.e. the audience.

The businesses have all been selected from those that applied, and will be announced next week.

They can ask for whatever they want from the ‘dragon’ audience from tools, resources, workspaces or even finance.

To date, 40 project have pitched since the forum was launched, more than 250 people have played the role of ‘community dragon’ and have made more than 1,000 ‘investments.’

One year a horsewoman needed more horse tackle and saddles and someone in the audience just happened to have exactly this to give away.

Another year someone else asked for and received a catering oven.

The audience, aka 'community of dragons' at the 2019 LEF at the Royal Seven Stars, Totnes. (. )

Organiser Jay Tompt, a regenerative economics lecturer at Schumacher College, said:

“Everyone has a stake in their local economy and everyone can be an investor, too.

“Entrepreneurs need all kinds of support. Financial capital is important, but so are other forms of support, from expert mentoring to child care.

“Entrepreneurs supported by the community do better. The economy does better, too.

“It’s part of what makes this place a nice place to live and raise a family.”

Everyone is welcome to attend, to pledge their support and to be inspired to come back and be among the line-up of those pitching next year.

Alex Green, communications officer at Transition Town Totnes, said: “This inspirational and practical event would not be possible without the investors – members of the community, donating their time, money, knowledge and skills.

“Together, they are the foundations for helping our communities to thrive.

This local ‘dragon’s den’ with a difference forms part of a blueprint for citizen-led economic transition in Totnes.

“It’s part of the solution to making our communities more resilient in the face of economic collapse and the rising cost of living crisis.”

Rob Hopkins, transition’s co-founder, went as far as calling the event: “One of the top ten innovations coming out of the Transition Movement that could begin to turn the economic crisis around”.

For more information or to take part visit www.reconomycentre.org/home/lef

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