05 Nov 2015
We were presented with the opportunity to appear on a new TV show that was being commissioned by UK TV earlier this year. It was an unusual week in May as it was exactly the same week that we were also approached by the the Mary Portas, Queen of Shops, production company to also potentially appear on their new series.
While we had an idea of the Mary Portas show and what that would entail. Because the Money Pit was a new experience we struggled to envision how it would work for us. We had a brief telephone conversation with a member of the production team who explained the concept of the show. The idea of crowdfunding was one that we easily understood. Since banks had stopped lending to small businesses alternative and exotic funding (and investing) opportunities have sprung up like mushrooms in the finance market. But while we understood the crowdfunding concept we admit that we did have trouble trying to vision the ‘pit’ and the humorous element of the show which Jason Manford would bring. Of all the exotic pairings that we have become used to over the years, including ‘bacon-jam’ and salty ice-cream, surely money and humour are the most unlikely?
So we debated and sought the counsel of some wise heads in our network: Mary Portas or New Show? How could we possibly choose? Well a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush I vaguely remember being advised and as we had no contract and only birds in the bush Phil and I continued to communicate with both teams. Around mid-June, one of the teams went completely quiet on us. We guessed it was a case of ‘don’t call us, we will call you’ so we set out to wait to see if we would be shortlisted by Liberty Bell, the makers of the New Show.
Phil completely got cold feet. Not even possessing a TV (for good reason), he felt completely uncomfortable with the idea of appearing on a comedy game show/crowdfunding hybrid. But refrains of ’all publicity is good publicity’ was on loop in the outer corners of our minds. So we continue to contemplate yay or nay? A good friend talked Phil into going for it, pointing out that we probably would never be able to afford that kind of publicity.
During June due diligence checks were performed and then early in July we were given the thumbs up: we would be one of the 30+ businesses that would appear in the new series. So it was full steam ahead preparing for our 'pitch in the pit’ which was a good exercise in taking a good objective look at our products, finance, business models and future plans before appearing in front of potentially thousands of people. It had been 3 1/2 hears since we launched the brand so a good objective look at ourselves was in order.
As Phil was away on a much needed holiday when we received the call it took me 5 days and nights to get the paperwork back to Liberty Bell in time to be forwarded to the potential bakers. I prepared a summary of our business and marketing plan which even at just 4 pages was not short enough. More was eliminated and the bare bones of our business was presented.
Another 10 days went by and we were then given the opportunity to go to a rehearsal at Alexandra Palace. At this point I got cold feet and spent a day in bed feeling totally ill at the prospect of being in the spotlight. I totally had to force myself to go to the rehearsal reasoning that it was a good opportunity to have a really good look at the set up. We hadn’t after all signed any contracts yet and there was still time to back out! For the first time we understood the concept of the pit. It also afforded us a great opportunity to meet the team and the other contenders. We were asked to stay away from the backers which was OK, they were easily to spot as they were all under the spotlight looking far more confident than the businesses pitching. Following the rehearsal we committed.
The actual day of filming was great fun. All the members of the Liberty Bell team were amazing professionals, full of positive energy, very energetic and very organised. It was an intense 4 hours recording. Having our marks marked out for us and being directed took a lot of concentration. Once the adrenalin kicked in and the spot lights turned on it really was show time.
Our pitch was written over about 4 days, cut in half and half again. Two minutes was not a long time to try to get the main points of our business across but we had a good crack at it. Stepping into the pit I was intelligently nervous but quietly confident that I would deliver. I got 3/4 of the way through and my brain froze. Because of how we had planned to deliver our pitch, this meant that Phil did not have his cue which meant that as the seconds ticked passed as we contemplated what to do Phil’s final statements were cut out as the bell went.
The floor was then open for questions and a few of the backers came down to have a look at our line. Most memorable was Sheridan Shed Simove (@ShedSimove) who was completely drowned in our Raw Denim Bomber Jacket. By contrast Dominic Frisby looked very sexy in our Purple Tweed Waistcoat and continued to wear it for the remainder of the show.
Our ethical and sustainable stance and or commitment to produce 100% of our collection in the UK seemed to be a novel idea to most of the but as our brand and product did not fall in the bracket of the "sublime to the ridiculous” scale we felt that we had a good chance to raise the £25,000 needed to secure a full time marketing professional and get our line to a trade show.
All in all the experience of appearing on a national TV show as very good and I would recommend it to anyone given the opportunity. The results of our endeavours can be seen here.
Andii & Phil pitch on the Money Pit.
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