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by Joanna Duong Chang

Dragons and fire and dens – oh my! Curious to see what it’s really like behind the scenes at Dragons Den? Step into the Den with Henkaa Founder & CEO Joanna Duong Chang as she looks at 5 things you might not know about!

Since I’ve started writing my Dragons Den blog post series, several people have started asking me about my experience on the show and what kinds of things happen behind the curtain. To be honest, I was so tired and nervous, blinded by all the bright lights, and so in awe at the Dragons sitting in front of me, that I can barely even remember what happened. It’s all a bit of a blur. Plus, I signed off to secrecy until the season is over, so no spilling the beans!

What I cantell you are some fun things that I learned behind the scenes during our time at the studio and throughout our whole experience. I’m all about the little things that make a big difference, so here’s my list of things I wish I had known in hopes that it helps any of you future pitchers to get excited for your turn. Every little bit counts!

1 | Filming goes on for 20 days straight

No breaks, no waiting, just pitch after pitch, on and on. It may vary by a day or two depending on how many pitches there are, but it’s generally around there. The days are extremely long but full of excitement. You’re required to be at the studio no later than 7:30am and you don’t leave until you’re done pitching. What made me nervous was that the time of your pitch was never certain since it all depends on how long everyone else takes. So we could be called any minute!

A pitch can end quickly, or go on for a decent length, but on average I saw other candidates spend about 30 – 40 minutes inside the Den. After doing this every day for 20 days straight, imagine how tired the Dragons must be after all of that! While the first few days are exciting, when you’ve already heard a hundred pitches by the 17th day, the novelty wears off. The tip here is try to get an earlier date for filming, if possible. The sweet spot is generally around the 5th to 10th day range, that way they’re warmed up and ready to hear your pitch!

2 | You get your own producer

You are assigned a producer who can inevitably help make you, or break you. This person is a precious resource for you, so build your relationship and leverage their experience as much as possible. Our producer filled me in on important details and tips – one of which I found extremely helpful and you should know too. She explained that we should not answer a Dragon’s question if they happen to ask before we’re done giving our speech.

Everything you read or hear about Dragons Den will tell you to know your numbers and your business inside and out (which you should!), but if they ask a question before you’re done your elevator pitch and you jump to show off your knowledge, you’re opening the flood gates to questions and comments. Once that gets started, you most likely won’t have a chance to go back and complete the rest of your pitch. Instead, my producer suggested to tell the Dragons that you will get back to them and to continue on with your pitch. That way you stay on track, andyou get your 2 minutes of fame!

3 | You’re allowed to take pictures and videos

Contrary to popular belief, you are allowed take pictures and videos on set and around the studio. However, most people in the Den just forget to do it since they’re so focused on making last minute tweaks and adjustments to their pitch! One big no-no which I got scolded for was sitting in a Dragon’s chair – not even my daughter Jolene was cute enough to bypass this rule! What’s important here is that you actually take the time to step back, smell the roses, soak in the experience, document it, and plan to leverage it on social media.

Again, deal or no deal, just having the “As seen on Dragons Den” association can help you get more attention on your business. We didn’t really have a plan or strategy going in since we were certain that we weren’t allowed to take pictures backstage or inside the studio. So we were pleasantly to find out that we could document such a triumphant moment of us. We did do some mandatory Snapchatting and took a lot of great photos to use later down the road. The best tip I can give here is to plan your social media strategy for the entire journey, not just for your post-air date traffic spike. Besides, you don’t find out if your pitch will actually air until 1 to 2 weeks before the season starts, which is not enough time to pull everything together!

4 | They feed you lots of sugar

Once you’ve checked into the studio, set up your props, and talk to your producer, they then put you in a waiting room that’s filledwith sugar. No lie. They have candy and treats and juice coming out of the wazoo and you may not have eaten breakfast or lunch yet because you couldn’t keep it down. By that point, the candy looks absolutely delightful, but that sugar high might cause you to crash and burn.

Had we known, we would’ve brought some healthy snacks to settle our gurgling stomachs and help us fight that sugar binge temptation. But don’t take it from me because I failed in that department and totally indulged!

5 | You get a goody bag!

I realize that I sound a bit childish when I say this, but it was such a cute little touch to it all! After you pitch and finish packing up all your stuff, they give you a little goody bag as well as an award to acknowledge your appearance on set. It was a sweet and unexpected surprise to commemorate our time that we spent at the Den. Not only that, it was a nice little memory to remind us of the journey that brought us there in the first place.

Have you ever been behind the scenes at Dragons Den? Tell us about your experience in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!



Joanna Duong Chang
Joanna Duong Chang

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