University lecturer Mary Gallagher from Dublin is the first entrepreneur into the Den in week 6. Mary is in the Den representing Green Dragon Tuition; she is looking for a €20,000 investment for 10% equity. Her business idea is an entirely innovative approach to the early learning of Mandarin Chinese.
Post Pitch Interview
Gavin tells Mary she has his attention and asks what her background is; Mary tells the Dragons she teaches French at third level. Gavin asks why she is presenting Chinese, Mary tells him that people in business can benefit from speaking Chinese and that it is much easier to learn it when as young as possible.
Peter tells Mary her product looks great but asks what her route to market is. Mary tells the Dragons this is why she is on Dragons Den, she needs to identify her route to market.
Sean asks Mary how she can be sure that her methodology works if she doesn’t speak Chinese herself, Mary tells Sean that they have worked very closely with two Chinese academics whose profession it is to teach the Chinese language.
Ramona asks Mary about the business model, Mary tells Ramona that their plan is very conservative. Barry gets Mary to confirm how many toys she plans to sell. Peter then asks if there are any schools in Ireland currently teaching Chinese, she tells him there are a number of secondary schools teaching it at transition level, Peter then asks if there are any schools at the moment who would potentially purchase the package, and if there are any schools teaching 3-8 year olds Chinese, she tells him there are not to her knowledge.
Sean tells Mary that he thinks the product looks good but he thinks that Mary keeps coming back to the Irish market place whereas he feels it should be worldwide and that it should be an online product, he feels it will not be as successful in the printed form and opts out. Peter agrees with Sean so also opts out. Ramona says that she would advise Mary to stick to teaching and also opts out.
Barry congratulates Mary on what she has done so far, he tells her she has a strong product idea but there is no business experience in the team so he feels he would have to get someone else involved to help and so makes her an offer for the full amount but asks for 30% so he can also give some equity top the business person he brings in to help. Gavin tells Mary he will not be able to better Barry’s offer so opts out. Mary tells Barry she is grateful for his offer but her only hesitation is the amount of equity he is asking for, Barry asks Mary to confirm if she has a problem with the offer he made, she tells him that is correct and Barry immediately opts out.
Mary teaches French at university level in Ireland and is the author of many books in French and in English. Partly because her own children are bilingual (in English and French), she is very interested in how children learn languages. She believes that it is very important for young children’s creativity and development to learn other languages at a young age. She just wishes that her own children could have benefited from a programme like My Chinese Pals when they were little!
My Chinese Pals
Bernadette has taught modern languages for over thirty years at second level. She is the author of Less Stress, More Success (German Revision, Leaving Cert. Higher Level) and co-author of Less Stress, More Success (German Revision, Junior Cert. Higher Level). She believes strongly in the capacity of children to pick up new languages at a very young age.
My Chinese Pals
My Chinese Pals
… We are not a nation of multi linguists. “It’s the language knowledge that is the real barrier”, according to David Bearfield of the European Personnel Section office. If you want a job at EU level, you have to go to be able to speak at least one other major European Language fluently. If your first language happens to be Irish, then you can put down English as your second language on the form.
I saw a woman on Dragons’ Den last Sunday trying to get some finance for an innovative project teaching young children and toddlers Chinese. She may not have had her homework done to the point of swaying the hard-nosed Dragons but I take my hat off to her for trying. She is probably three or four years before her time judging by the guarded reaction. The whole episode reflected our blasé attitude to the importance of having a second international language in this country.