Dragons’ Den’s Richard Farleigh comes to Hatfield

MOST people will know Richard Farleigh as the “nice” guy from hit BBC show Dragons’ Den.

He was the Australian-born ‘Dragon’ with a heart, offering constructive advice and investment where his fellow Dragons would not.

This week, he visited the University of Hertfordshire as part of its Enterprise Spotlight; a series of motivational speeches by successful businessmen and women to would-be-entrepreneurs.

The WHT met Mr Farleigh – a Dragon for two series of the BBC show from 2006 to 2007 – in the Weston Auditorium at the de Havilland campus, Hatfield, an hour before his appearance.

He is indeed a nice guy; amiable, down to earth and honest in his assessment of his own success.

For example: “I’ve had a lot of failures. But luckily for me, I’ve learned from my failures.”

Failure seems important to Mr Farleigh.

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It seems to have shaped his approach to business and might explain why a man worth an estimated �66m by The Sunday Times Rich List can remain so grounded.

He says of his first business venture: “I had no idea what I was doing, and it brought me back to earth.

Lose money

“I always used to hope people starting out would lose money at first, because there’s nothing worse than somebody who thinks they know it all right away.

“Some early losses don’t hurt,” he pauses, then adds: “So long as they don’t destroy you.”

Mr Farleigh himself confesses to being a “deal junkie”, and has had to teach himself how to say no to certain opportunities being pushed his way.

“I don’t want to be the next Decca!” he laughs, referring to the record company that rejected The Beatles.

“There’s always a thought in the back of my head saying ‘what if this is the next big thing?’”

He may have backed a few wrong horses, but Mr Farleigh is still the man behind what is arguably Dragons’ Den’s most successful enterprise to date: Levi Roots’ Reggae Reggae Sauce.

“He’s a joy to work with,” says Mr Farleigh, on the Jamaican musician-cum-multi-millionaire. “His is the stand out Dragons’ Den pitch.”

And what does he think about some of the University of Hertfordshire’s budding wheeler-dealers?

“I’ve bumped into a few students and had a few emails,” he says. “There seems to be some motivated people here.

“Although the first thing I had to learn was how to pronounce ‘Hertfordshire’ properly with my Aussie accent!”