Piers Linney has today announced his departure from the BBC2 show Dragons’ Den. Piers joined the programme two years ago as part of a show refresh by a new production team, which saw ratings grow by an average of 45 per cent, with series 11 also receiving a Bafta nomination.
As a new breed of Dragon with a background in the City and technology, Piers was responsible for the highest valuation for an investment in the history of the Den, in a business that is rapidly becoming the fastest growing company to have ever received investment on the programme.
Piers says: “I have enjoyed every minute of my time on Dragons’ Den and feel honoured to have had the opportunity to contribute to such an iconic and long-running TV show and to have been the first Dragon with Afro Caribbean heritage. It is now the right time for me to move on, although entrepreneurship and diversity are two of my greatest passions so I will continue to focus my energies on supporting both. It has been a great experience and a pleasure to share with millions of viewers the growing importance of digital innovation and how the technology and creative sectors are making their profound marks on the evolving landscape of British business. Amongst the fantastic entrepreneurs I have backed in the Den, I was especially delighted to have spotted the potential of the full stack digital publisher, Lost My Name, which became the UK’s highest selling children’s picture book in 2014 and is already one of the biggest success stories to come out of the Den. It will be interesting to see who takes my seat.”
Piers will continue to work closely with the entrepreneurs he has backed, including Lost My Name, the technology start-up which takes children on a storytelling journey, creating beautifully illustrated and individual stories using their own names. Piers invested £100,000 in the company which received a valuation of £2.5 million, the highest ever valuation in Dragons’ Den history. His faith in the potential of the founders and their exciting business has been rewarded with sales of 132,616 copies in UK and 325,000 globally, generating a turnover of £6 million in its first year. Lost My Name is a growing profitable business on the road to becoming one of the fastest growing and most successful investments to come out of the Den, with revenues in 2015 expected to hit £20 million, with plans already in place to launch an exciting new product in 2015, which will be the most technically ambitious picture book on the global market to date.
Piers will be particularly focusing his time on growing the business Outsourcery, which he co-founded. As the Government has a target of procuring 25% of all goods and services from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Outsourcery has recently listed a range of its services on the government’s G-Cloud digital marketplace and is one of a select number of SMEs that has invested to deploy cloud platforms capable of providing services to central government.
Alongside his interest in enterprise, Piers’s belief in the potential for positive impact by scalable social businesses, alongside and in partnership with commercial and public sector organisations, led to the inception of workinsight.org; a not-for-profit venture that is creating a digital platform to empower young people with greater access to valuable workplace experiences, whilst removing bias from the selection process.
Piers continues: “Inclusion and social mobility have always been something which I have dedicated considerable energy and resources to promoting. Opportunity is not fairly distributed and the changing face of the UK population is not represented at the highest echelons of business and commerce, including on the boards of our largest companies. This is something which I have experienced in person and I am determined to do my bit to create a more level playing field for the next generation, irrespective of race, religion, gender, sexuality or socio-background. Until boards of directors, workforces and even the ownership of supply chains reflect society at large, we will not have a fair society.”
David Williams, Creative Director, BBC Entertainment North, commented, “Piers Linney has been an inspiration on the programme, his entrepreneurial expertise from the world of technology will be missed in the Den and we wish him continued success in his future ventures.”