Peter Jones, CBE, stands as one of the foremost and most widely recognized entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom, with a diverse business portfolio spanning technology, fashion, food, and publishing. He holds the distinction of being the longest-serving Dragon globally, having been part of the Den since the inception of the first UK series in 2005.
Peter embarked on his entrepreneurial journey at the young age of 16 when he established his tennis academy. At 17, while pursuing A-Levels in school, he initiated his own computer business, a venture that propelled him to millionaire status by the age of 21. Over the years, he has solidified his position as one of Britain’s most prominent entrepreneurs, managing a diverse portfolio of more than 35 companies through his PJ Investment Group. Notably, he appears as a recurring guest “Shark” on the US show Shark Tank and has earned the moniker “Mr Global” owing to his extensive global business interests.
In 2005, Peter founded the Peter Jones Foundation with the aim of supporting and empowering young individuals. Rooted in his belief that “every young person has the potential to achieve great things and deserves the right to a brighter future,” the Foundation delivers top-tier education through the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy network. Additionally, it oversees the Tycoon in Schools initiative, providing financial loans to thousands of young students to kickstart their own businesses. In recognition of his contributions to business, enterprise, and charity, Peter was honored with a CBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 2009.
Peter’s commitment to investing in the Den is evident through a total pledged amount exceeding £6.5 million. Some notable investments include Wonderland Magazine (Season 1, a pop culture magazine), Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce (Season 4, Caribbean Sauce), The Tiny Box Company (Season 6, online gift packaging), and Solar Buddies (Season 20, child-friendly sunscreen applicator).
For a deeper understanding, here is a Q&A session with Peter.
You are the longest serving Dragon and this will be your 21st series, what keeps you coming back?
I can’t think of any other TV show that has so much positive impact on people’s lives. To have the opportunity to listen and hear about someone’s business idea and dream, and be able to invest and help them make those dreams a reality is extremely special. I’ve been lucky enough to have sat through over 1,000 pitches on Dragons’ Den and still, even to this day, I get excited as soon as those lift doors open.
What do you think keeps Dragons’ Den relevant?
Because it’s real. To be able to watch and listen to how people pitch their business idea, at the same time listen to the feedback and interrogation from the Dragons that follows can be incredibly enlightening. So many business lessons in such a short space of time. It’s very competitive too and that’s so relevant in business.
What can audiences expect this series?
It’s a landmark year in that we have Guest Dragons joining the Den for the first time. It’s going to be different and as competitive as ever. There are so many great investments this series and that means the Dragons are having to fight amongst themselves in order to win an investment.
Have you spotted any business trends?
More and more people since the pandemic are focussed on building online businesses and building a brand. We have definitely seen that trend in the Den.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs in the current economic climate?
There’s never been a better time to start a business. The ability to create a business from a seed of an idea, develop a product or service and sell it online all over the world is a lot easier than ever before. The speed at which you can go from concept to development and ultimately selling has been reduced to weeks with the advent of global ecommerce.
What can the viewers look forward to in this series of Dragons’ Den?
Two new Guest Dragons which makes it even more competitive as I now have five Dragons to compete against instead of four. There are so incredible businesses this year so there’s no lack of fire breathing in the Den from the Dragons as we compete to invest.
What kind of business are you looking for in the Den?
Any business where I can add value and help bring it to life. If the person standing in front of me is someone I want to work with, and they also have a great idea which I know I can make better then I’m IN”!
Why do you think people still enjoy the show?
Because if you are looking to start a business, work for a company or have a business of your own it’s easy to relate to watching someone pitch an idea asking for help or investment. Dragons’ Den is a show that is so relatable and inspiring. It’s also very educational – you learn so quickly, from watching the show, how to and how not to win in business.
Are there any general trends in the type of business that are pitched to you?
Every pitch is so different so I wouldn’t say there are certain types of trends. The person pitching is the most important aspect because if they can capture your attention and imagination in the first five minutes, they are more likely to get an investment.
Dragons are known for being strong and fierce, do you think strength is the most important trait for a business person?
There’s no doubt you have to be strong to be successful because starting and running a business is tough. There will be times when no one wants to talk to you about your idea, obtaining the money needed to start or continue isn’t easy and if you’re not strong enough to keep going when things get tough then it’s not going to end well. Whilst Dragons are known for being strong and fierce, I would say I was more determined than strong and more honest and straight talking than fierce.