It was a chilly February evening. Ernie and Theo were lying under their favourite lamp post. They’d not seen each other for a while and had much to catch up on.
“Yeo Theo, I didn’t see you at the market last week. What’ve you been up to?” Ernie asked.
“I’ve been busy behind the scenes,” Theo began. “I’m working on our business plan and talking to a few people about the next stage in Ernie and Theo’s expansion,” he explained.
“That sounds complicated,” Ernie said unenthusiastically but Theo warmed to his theme.
“It isn’t really Ernie. If we are going to expand, we must keep growing our product range and markets. This will take lots of innovative ideas and hard work,” Theo explained.
“We sold some of our new treat bags at the Northern Quarter Makers Market!!” Ernie explained excitedly.
“Yes, I saw that when I checked the sales figures. Very encouraging,” Theo replied. “However,” he went on, “to go to the next level I think we may need some new investors”.
Ernie looked puzzled. “What’s an investor Theo?”.
“Someone who puts their money into a business to help it expand and then takes a share of any profits,” Theo explained.
“Oh right,” Ernie replied trying to sound interested. “Well, who’s going to put money into Ernie and Theo’s? I haven’t got any – have you!?” he asked.
“No, we need to tap into new sources,” Theo replied. “That’s what I was talking to some people about whilst you were at the markets,”.
“Who did you see then?” Ernie asked, his curiosity growing.
“Folk who produce a TV programme where people try to persuade potential investors to take a stake in their businesses,” Theo explained.
“Oooh, that’s exciting,” Ernie said. “Are we going on this TV programme then,” he asked.
“Well, there are a lot of hoops to jump through first,” Theo replied chuckling
“Like the ones the display dogs jumped through at last year’s Great Harwood Country Show,” Ernie asked. “With a bit of practice, I reckon I could do that”.
“No, I meant metaphorical hoops in the form of many questions you have to answer about how your business is doing and what its plans are,” Theo said chuckling. “There is a lot of competition to get on the programme so you have to know your stuff.”
“When will we know if we have got on Theo?” Ernie asked.
“i'm not sure Ernie,” Theo replied.
“What’s the programme called?” Ernie asked.
“It’s called Dragon’s Den,” Theo said.
“Dragon’s Den? Where do they film it, Theo?” Ernie asked.
“Yes, Dragon’s Den and it’s filmed in Manchester. Why?” Theo said looking puzzled.
“Theo, we don’t have to wait till Autumn to go on Dragon’s Den” Ernie said, excitedly jumping up.
“Ernie, didn’t you hear me? We do!” Theo said getting a bit cross.
“No, no, no, for once you are wrong,” Ernie said holding his ground. “I know because I was in the Dragon’s Den on Sunday. I’ll take you there.”
“Whoa, hold on Ernie. Where is this Dragon’s Den?” Theo asked sceptically.
“It’s in Manchester, where they film it. I went there on last Sunday,” Ernie explained.
Despite his scepticism, Theo’s curiosity was aroused.
“You went in the Dragon’s Den? Are you sure?” Theo asked, his eyes narrowing.
“Yes, I saw him when we did the market in the Northern Quarter!” Ernie explained.
“And so?” Theo asked, the scepticism returning to his voice and one of his eyebrows rising.
“Well, my pet-human took me for a walk round Manchester. There was so much going on, we saw all sorts of things,” Ernie said getting more excited.
“Like what?” Theo asked.
“Well,” Ernie said falling over his words, “we saw a pig who would have flown off if he hadn’t been tied down”.
“I’ll bet he would have,” Theo groaned, he decided Ernie had been drinking the beer he got for Christmas.
“The pig looked very tasty and was bigger than people,” Ernie went on unperturbed by Theo’s groan.
Theo’s eyebrows seemed to be heading for Heaven and his eyes were nearly shut.
“Hhmm, and what else did you see?” he asked his little friend.
“Well, crowds of people eating lots of food,” Ernie replied. “There were fairground rides and all the shops were open,” he went on. “Because I couldn’t have the pig, I wanted to go in a supermarket for treats but my pet-human said I wasn’t allowed to” he explained disappointedly.
“And where does the dragon’s den fit in?” Theo asked exasperatedly.
“Well, we were going back to the market when we saw him,” Ernie said in a thrilled voice. “He was in his den. There were lots of people around. We went over to see him”
“And what did you say to him?” Theo asked.
“I didn’t say anything Theo, he was so big I was a bit scared to be honest, we just watched him for a while and then headed back to the market, I was getting a bit tired.”
“Ernie, do you know why the pig and the dragon were in Manchester when the market was on, and why there was a fun fair and lots of people eating tasty food?” Theo asked.
“It was a lovely, sunny day?” Ernie suggested, but knew it was probably the wrong answer.
“Ernie, it was Chinese New Year. Everyone was celebrating,” Theo explained.
“You’re wrong there Theo,” Ernie answered back. “How can it be new year when it’s February? And why was the big pig there?”
“Modern China uses the same calendar as us but it still celebrates festivals and holidays from a much older one called the Lunar Calendar,” Theo explained. “The Spring festival, or “Chinese New Year’ is one of the most important. Each new year is named after an animal from the Chinese zodiac, and 2019 is the year of the pig.”
Ernie knew it wasn’t worth arguing with Theo when he had his clever head on. He had one more question though.
“So, why was the dragon in his den then?” he asked
“To the Chinese, the dragon is a symbol of power. People dance with the dragon at New Year in the hope that it will bring good luck,” Theo replied.
“Nobody was dancing with that dragon Theo!” Ernie said “He looked very scary”
“No, but there was a procession in another part of Manchester where lots of people danced with one,” Theo explained.
“How do you know all this stuff Theo?” a wide-eyed Ernie asked.
“I just read a lot,” Theo answered.
Just as he said this, some pigeons had landed a few yards away and caught Ernie’s eye.
“Do you think we’ll get on Dragon’s Den,” Ernie said, getting up.
“I hope so, I’ve got big plans for Ernie and Theo and we’ll need some financial backing to realise them,” Theo replied, “I must do some more work on the business plan though”.
Ernie too had plans but they were shorter term in nature. Just as Theo finished his sentence, Ernie’s head reared up in ready to give chase.
“Well, if I can do anything to help Theo just let me know,” he said galloping after the now airborne pigeons.
“I will Ernie, I just hope you are better at business planning than chasing pigeons” and off he trotted home, his head full of discounted cash flows.