Interview: Tej Randeva CEO of Spice 2 Go Spills All About Dragons’ Den Experience
If you share our love for the BBC show Dragons’ Den you will have been on the edge of your seat during last night’s episode, seeing Indian entrepreneur Tej Randeva pitch for investment in his unique Indian food franchise business, Spice 2 Go.
Viewers were immediately hit with a celebration of Indian culture that took over the den with Bhangra dance and music influencing an exciting atmosphere inside the anxiety-filled room.
This was also the first time a turbaned Sikh has been featured on the show with both Indian and British dancers bringing a burst of colour to the infamously spiky Dragons. While the Lions of Punjab dance crew sprinkled a bit of joy in the den the conversation quickly turned to business.
Hoping to turn his well-researched franchise concept into a worldwide phenomenon Tej explained how he used his experiences as a Domino’s Pizza Franchisee when creating Spice 2 Go, feeling that the Indian food market lacked consistency and would benefit from a curry chain that offered uniformed food.
Although dismayed by the verdict Tej showed no sign of slowing down with his plans for expansion, promising viewers that Spice 2 Go is going nowhere.
The serial businessman faced the millionaire tycoons and was very vocal with his opinions, especially with Deborah Meaden. We at Bhangra News wanted to hear his version of events.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Mr Tej Randeva to discuss what he made of his time on the on Dragons’ Den.
Where did the idea for an Indian food franchise come from?
I spent many years as a Domino’s Pizza Franchisee and operated a number of stores across South Wales. During my time with the chain I began to appreciate the value of their consistency, the operational structure and a good system to Franchise. After returning from a business trip from India it baffled me why there was no Indian food chains in the UK. With curry being one of Britain’s national dishes I knew there was room for a concept like Spice 2 Go.
Why did you decide to take this concept to the Dragons?
Although it was not the money I wanted it was the Dragon’s power that interested me. Having dominated so many markets they hold the ability to give Spice 2 Go the right exposure that it deserves, steering Spice 2 Go in the right direction.
Also, Piers Linney recently invested in Vin and Bal’s curry sauces so I knew he employed an affiliation with Indian food and culture. I thought he would be interested in coming on board or even offering some advice on how to get Spice 2 Go off the ground.
The dancers made a pretty loud entrance to the den. Was this your intention for the pitch?
Yes it was! Spice 2 Go is all about celebrating Indian culture and our association with the country here in Britain. Where you can go to any Indian takeaway in your neighbourhood and pick up a curry there is nowhere that diners can get a real taste of Indian culture.
I wanted to place focus on this during my pitch.
Were you nervous about facing the Dragons?
Initially not at all but that quickly changed during those moments before entering the den. What viewers do not see at home is that filming is a very long process and I was waiting to go into the den for around ten hours. Being the last pitch of the day my nerves were understandably intensified.
Why do you think you did not get investment?
I would put it down to my nerves. When nerves get hold of you they really do take over your whole body. When my emotions kicked in it made things very difficult in the den. When the Dragons smell fear they pounce. As you will have seen I had a slight clash with Deborah. She did not allow me to get my ideas across and completely took control of the conversation.
I planned to have said a lot more in the den, focusing on marketing strategies, branding ideas as well as menu drafts. I think if I was given a chance to provide a clear picture about Spice 2 Go and its already proven worth in the food market I may have gained investment.
Are you happy with the way your pitch went?
No, not at all. The way the questions were fired at me did not compliment my pitch. I felt the Dragons were more preoccupied with making good television than actually showing an interest in viable business opportunities.
We saw that you felt the wrath of Deborah Meaden, what happened?
If I am completely honest Deborah and I just took off on the wrong foot. When she sensed my nerves that was it. Being probed in the way I was only increased my nerves. Once my anxiety had dissolved I felt Debra was still not interested in letting me paint a clear picture of what Spice 2 Go has to offer.
I think Deborah is a fantastic Dragon and I commend her on her success (She’s still my favourite dragon).
Would you advise budding entrepreneurs to go on the BBC show?
Yes, 100%. The only advice I would give to anyone entering the den is to not be afraid of the Dragons and remember that they are actors as well as investors. The exposure we gained from this has been overwhelming and although I did not secure a deal it provided us with a national platform to showcase Spice 2 Go. What more could I have asked for?
If you could sum up your Dragons Den experience in one word, what would it be?
Would you ever pitch to the dragons again?
Yes, but I would not pitch on my own. I felt that tackling the Dragons alone was not only daunting during the preparation stages but also very difficult inside the den. It was a very imbalanced experience.
On the show it became apparent that Spice 2 Go was not your only business. What other projects are you involved in?
I have a collection of businesses in a number of industries but Spice 2 Go holds a piece of my heart. I am involved in a diversity of companies including an insurance brokerage, a luxury hire firm, a music label, a commercial cleaning firm and much more
Over the past few years I have taken to investing in small businesses and building on my portfolio of organiations. I felt that my business style was not reflected accurately on Dragons’ Den.
What does the future hold for Spice 2 Go? Will you continue to open stores?
I am more determined than ever to make Spice 2 Go a success and we are actively seeking investors to come on board with this exciting venture.
We understand that a few alterations need to be made in regards to branding and the re-development of our food and aim to trial these amendments to ensure our customers receive the best service from the UK’s only curry chain!
It seems that although not receiving the investment that he hoped for Tej is very optimistic about Spice 2 Go’s future. Dragons’ Den was successful in providing the entrepreneur with an opportunity to advertise Spice 2 Go to the UK and they are using this to attract investors.
After speaking to Tej it is pretty clear that this is not the end for Spice 2 Go but actually the beginning!