A businesswoman from Consett has braved the dragons on the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den. Angela Sterling, who runs Lingatot, a language teaching service for children, appeared in an episode of the show that was aired on Sunday night.
Ms Sterling asked the dragons for a £50,000 investment in her business. Despite charming the dragons by getting a team of her pupils to sing to them in four different languages, Ms Sterling did not manage to secure the cash injection she was seeking.
Ms Sterling, a mother of two who set up Lingatot in 2010 after working for a decade as a teacher of modern foreign languages, now provides lessons for over 10,000 children per week via a network of franchisees and tutors.
Ms Sterling had hoped that the dragons’ cash would help her expand her business overseas. The dragons, however, advised her to focus her energies on growing her UK franchise model and to seek out a close business mentor rather than looking for an injection of cash.
Though she shed a few tears on the show, Ms Sterling left feeling optimistic and grateful for the advice the dragons gave her.
Angela Sterling said, “Dragons’ Den is an experience I will never forget.”
“It was terrifying yet hugely worthwhile and offers so much more than TV entertainment.”
“The dragons were totally right not to offer me the investment I asked for as it’s not money that the business needs right now. I entered the Den feeling frustrated; I knew the business could be even bigger and better, but I didn’t feel equipped to take it to the next level on my own.”
“I’ve listened to their advice and have since found the support to take the business to the next level.”
“In some ways, I have gone against their advice when it comes to international expansion plans, but the dragons certainly helped me to establish a much clearer picture of the opportunities and threats of operating Lingatot overseas.”
“I know foreign lands are not necessarily paved with gold and that the figures I quoted were not realistic, but I can certainly see real opportunities for the business to flourish.”
As well as 40 franchises around the UK, Ms Sterling has now established Lingatot Dubai. Lingatot is also working with the Department of Trade to look into the possibility of expanding its successful model into other foreign territories.
Lingatot teaches languages in a fun, interactive, child-centred way using techniques such as songs, reading together and play, alongside plenty of repetition and structure.