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I’m a bit of an addict of Dragons’ Den. It’s great TV — but occasionally, people get really screwed.
I was watching Dragons’ Den on Dave the other day, when David Lees arrived to pitch for some money.
David Lees was an engineer of many, many years’ experience. He designed things, invented things, created new and patentable ideas and generally made lots of money for his employer. Eventually, he set off on his own, producing high-end stands for Plasma TVs — the kind you see at conferences and other big events. He sought an investment of £225,000 for 10% of his company.
So far, so good. A typical scenario. What makes this one different is that the company was very successful: it had consistent sales and was profitable. In fact, its success had already led to an offer from Panasonic to buy the company for £3.25m. Lees wanted a Dragon’s involvement primarily in order to secure a better deal — logical, perhaps, but unwise.
Obviously, the Dragons were interested: they could have accepted his equity offer, sold the company for, say, £4.5m, and doubled their money. Probably all within a few months.
Instead, though, they absolutely shafted him: offering him the £225k for 50% of the company — thus valuing it at a mere £450k — when they knew that the company was almost certainly worth over seven times that amount.
I was a little surprised to see such shamelessly naked exploitation. To my utter astonishment, rather than laughing at them heartily and telling them to shove right off, he acccepted the deal. I was practically spitting at the telly.
Thankfully, the Dragons took so long getting a deal together that by the time it was ready, Lees decided he was doing well enough on his own, and didn’t go through with it.
A narrow escape.
After posting about the iPhone yesterday, I thought I should mention that figuring out what service was best for me was a real pain. It should have been easy, but it wasn’t.
Because I had unusual plans — buying a Pay & Go phone and then switching to a 1-month rolling contract — I rang O2 twice before buying anything. I wanted to make sure that Visual Voicemail, unlimited wifi and tethering would work on a non-iPhone contract, and was assured that they would be.
After getting the phone, I found that Visual Voicemail didn’t work, and called O2, assuming it was a configuration problem… but no. They said Visual Voicemail and tethering are unavailable on anything other than an iPhone contract, which is not what they said before. I suggested some possible solutions to this:
Could you turn on these features without using an iPhone contract? Answer: No. Apparently it’s “technically impossible”.
Could you put me on an iPhone contract with an appropriate discount and no minimum term (since I already have the phone) Answer: No. “The system won’t let me do that.” — “Can I speak to someone who can authorise it?” — “No one could authorise that” — “What!?”
I had a bit of a go at the guy and was called back by a manager, who offered me a month’s free line rental to make up for it, but still. I felt pretty messed around, especially since i had taken so much care to ensure that everything would be ok. Ho hum.
In any case, I do now have the new iPhone, and it’s lovely (despite O2′s crummy 3G coverage), and I’m terribly happy with it. It is an awesome piece of kit: so awesome, it turns out, that it can even balance out the monumental crapness of mobile phone companies.
Edited to add:
I forgot to mention that O2 were pretty rubbish even before I got my hands on the phone. I ordered it online on the Friday morning when it was released. The website asked me when I wanted when I wanted it to be delivered, so I picked a free slot on Monday morning. It didn’t arrive. My card was billed — all, I thought, was good. I rang O2, and they said it would arrive in the next couple of days.
On Tuesday, perhaps over-enthusiastically, I rang O2 again to ask when it would come, only to be told that they’d run out of stock and cancelled the order.
Beyond the initial confirmation email, I didn’t hear from them at all. They didn’t tell me a thing. #Fail.
At the risk of turning this into a blog about films and food:
First, Fogg’s, wherein I had a Kangaroo burger over the weekend — yes folks, that’s right. I ate skippy. And he was most delicious. Second was the Stingray Cafe in Tufnell Park, where I had a pizza. It was the best pizza I have had in a very long time. I had an Insalata Tricolore to start, which came with a extra yummy dressings — one mustardy, and one balsamic. Both worth a visit on an empty stomach.
I saw the new Star Trek film over the weekend, too, and yea: it was good. Not terribly plausible, but only the most pedantic of pedants would expect anything else. Lots of explosions and shaky cameras, and there was even some shagging — new ground for trek films, I believe — and a suprisingly attractive semi-naked green creature. Who knew that aliens would be so hot?
I had a splendid night out in the west end yesterday. We went to Prix Fixe for some supper, where I had a most excellent steak, a selection of yummy cheeses (although, let’s face it: it’s pretty unusual for cheese not to be yummy) and half a bottle of the house red. They haven’t been open long, and they’re worth a visit. Good all round.
After that, we went to the Comedy Store. I think the act of the evening for me was one Earl Okin — sex symbol, musical genius and general man’s-man — who delighted and amazed. I had never before suspected that Wheatus’s Teenage Dirtbag was actually a cover of an old bossa nova classic… now I know.
Just got home from seeing The International at the Odeon in Holloway, London.
I was impressed — solid story, nice ending and a completely spectacular gunfight set across several levels of the Guggenheim in New York. Despite the seedy halls, sticky floor, patronising copyright messages and grotesque expense of — well, everything — I had a good time.
I haven’t seen a decent thriller in ages, and it delievered.
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