Future is bright for Beckenham mum despite mauling from Dragons
PUBLISHED: 10:06 07 February 2013 | UPDATED: 10:06 07 February 2013
Her pitch to TV's "Dragons" may have been described as "the worst ever" but for Beckenham entrepreneur Georgette Hewitt her on-screen appearance has propelled her online business into overdrive.
Securing funding from both Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis, on BBC’s Dragons’ Den show, the mother-of-three’s company, The Present Club, allows people to create a virtual whip-round for items such birthday presents or leaving gifts.
Established about four years ago, Georgette decided to apply to the show in order to get the company “out there” and gain the experience of established business minds.
She said: “The business was always semi-successful, but it’s not something people would Google for, so I had to get it out there organically.
“My biggest fear is public speaking but I applied for the show anyway and had to go through auditions and rigorous financial checks.”
After speaking against the clock for 10 minutes straight about why she deserved a place on the show, Georgette was selected by producers to face the Dragons.
Hours spent meticulously rehearsing her pitch were thrown out of the window seconds before she climbed the Den’s stairs as producers made a last-minute change.
“It’s probably the most painful thing to watch,” she said. “I took three boards with me to reference from, but just before I went on I was told I could only take two up with me.
“I was literally just about to do my pitch – it was just horrific.”
Georgette stumbled early in her speech and failed to recover, though her potential investors managed to work out what it was that she was offering.
Health club mogul Duncan Bannatyne declared himself “out” early on, accusing Georgette of replacing Santa.
Peter called her presentation “appalling” – before he and partner Theo agreed to give Georgette £60,000 for 30 per cent of The Present Club.
She said: “A newspaper likened me to Ian Botham in the 1981 Ashes because I managed to pull off a huge turnaround.
“I did want Theo and Peter together, plus I heard Peter say he could build my website in a week.”
Despite a flustered pitch, Georgette’s claim to be the youngest ever female trader in London impressed the hard-to-please Dragons.
At 16, she joined the finance industry, taking her trading exams on her 18th birthday. She eventually left behind her 12-hour days in 2007 to have her first daughter, Sophia.
She has since become a mother twice more with the arrival of Amelia, now four, and Eloise, who is a year old.
Life has become a juggling act for Georgette as she switches between her roles as a mother and entrepreneur, which is made all the more difficult by business flourishing since her television appearance – though help is at hand from her investors.
“They are very hands-on in that they want you to succeed,” says Georgette. “If you need them to tweet something or come on the radio with you, they will do that, no problem.
“They aren’t heavily involved in the company, but then I know more about it than them. They give you advice if you want it.”
Georgette will be speaking at Mums Show Live in May at Alexandra Palace.
For details, visit www.mumshowlive.com.