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Written by

Kate Dyson

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Kate is a content specialist who is passionate about women's health. She's also mum to three kids, two dogs and unsurprisingly, a lover of wine.

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Glossary

For words you might want to know more

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Targeted movements that strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum, and can help with incontinence and support reproductive organs, especially important during and after menopause.

Menopause

The natural decline in reproductive hormones when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s, marked by the end of menstrual cycles and accompanied by symptoms like hot flashes, mood changes, and sleep disturbances.

Insomnia

A common sleep disorder characterised by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restful sleep, often experienced during menopause due to hormonal changes.

Inside the Dragons' Den with Jude's Founder, Peony Li

Did you see Jude on Dragons' Den? If so, you probably have a million questions you'd love to ask Peony - like, "What is is like behind the scenes?" "How do you prepare?" and "Are the Dragons nice?". Don't worry - us too!

We sat down with Jude's Founder and CEO, Peony Li, to discuss her experience in the Den, those offers she famously turned down, and what exactly Peter said to her that made her 'leak on stage':

Hey Peony! It’s been an exciting few days for Jude - how did it feel to watch the Dragons Den episode on Thursday?

I wanted to watch it with the rest of the team so we had a fun Watch Party in the office (and with our community online) and I was both excited and nervous. The episode was filmed about a year ago, and this was the first time I had seen it, alongside everyone else. You never know what the BBC will choose to include or exclude so it was great to see how much avoided the cutting room floor!

You explained a bit about the story behind Jude in the Den. Why do you think your own upbringing and parents' success were such an influence on you as an entrepreneur?

In the Den I shared how my parents have been pioneers in the same industry for over three decades. My Mum and Dad worked day in, day out, with an unwavering commitment to care for those affected by incontinence. Their work ethic has always inspired me, and it laid the foundation for my mission: to revolutionise and modernise the space to continue the legacy they built.

Why was it important to you to create a business in such a taboo niche?

Taboos are considered as “unsexy”. This means there won’t be enough attention, capital and innovation dedicated to change the industry. Ultimately, the people who are and will be suffering are people who experience incontinence alone and in silence. It’s important to me because I know by addressing these unsexy niches we make the biggest impact made to the underserved and under-represented.

People maybe don’t realise the amount of work behind the scenes - and in secret - that goes into presenting to the Dragons. How did you prepare?

Oh lots of preparation goes into Dragons Den! From practising my pitch, to knowing all the numbers of my business inside out was critical too. The team at the BBC were so diligent in ensuring our business is professionally represented, and collaborating with the team takes some time.

You'll have noticed our orange loo too - that was spray painted by our team and I had to put it together backstage! There's definitely a lot of behind the scenes hustling and hard work to be ready for the Den.

Regular watchers of the show will know that nerves often take over entrepreneurs in the Den. Did you worry about feeling nervous, and if so, how did you control those feelings?

It's only natural that I was nervous - I think anyone who says that they were born to present live on TV is probably lying! Being able to turn those feelings into fuel and energy to prepare works for me. I also practised a LOT so I knew my pitch inside out, and the night before the Den I manifested the pitch and imagining myself impressing the Dragons. I think it helped a lot.

Did you have a preferred Dragon that you hoped would offer investment? 

Yes: Emma Grede, Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden.

I was really thrilled that they saw the potential in Jude and myself and gave me an offer.

It’s not often that entrepreneurs turn down the offers of investment on the show. How did you make that decision?

It was a difficult decision to make, and it did feel like a shame we couldn’t make a deal in the Den. However, I keep in mind the worth and potential of our business, and it was very important that I made sure to honour Jude's investors who have believed in our potential even before we had a product and had a team. These principles guided me to not settle for less for Jude.

Was there any particular feedback that you received from the Dragons that you remember, or have thought to take forward for Jude?

There was a point in the pitch when I realised that they understood the importance of bladder care, and why Jude needs to exist - that was best moment for me.

You saw as well that it wasn't all plain sailing and Steven and Touker's feedback was tough to take. Steven's expertise is in organic growth and he was concerned that we had spent heavily on marketing relative to the market share, and Touker felt that our ambitious retail plan wasn't realistic with Boots and QVC. However, since the show, we've sold out in both QVC and Boots.com.

In your last investment round, you raised $6 million, so viewers may wonder whether you ‘needed’ to pitch to the Dragons. What was it that particularly appealed about Dragons Den?

For me - and Jude - the mission is to break through the taboo of incontinence and highlight the importance of bladder care. The money is a bonus but the main mission for me was to bring bladder leaks onto national, prime-time television and raise awareness of this hidden epidemic that affects 1 in 3 women, and too often endured in silence. Getting the insights from the Dragons' themselves was a huge opportunity that I knew Jude would benefit from.

During your pitch, Peter Jones offered you a tissue after you broke down in tears. What was it that made you cry?

Crying on national television was never part of my plan! Peter asked me about where my passion for Jude originates and as I was talking about the tenacity and tireless dedication of my parents to help those with incontinence, I couldn't hold back the tears. I was grateful when he offered me a tissue and obviously made everyone laugh when I quipped about "leaking on stage"!

Did you worry that they wouldn’t be interested or that you could not receive any offers?

Yes. Experience has shown that there are a LOT of investors out there who disregard women's health issues and think it is too niche for them to invest. Like I said before, it's not 'sexy', and that can be hard to cut through.

Was there a moment during the pitch when you realised that it was going as well as it did?

I think the moment I felt a little bit more relaxed was when they told me that I was one of the best founders they have seen in the Den.

Tell us a secret from Behind the Scenes of the Den:

How long the process takes! I was in the Den for more than 2 hours, and of course there was the whole month prior when we were preparing and liaising with the BBC but in the end, you see a short five, ten minute segment on the TV.

But the real secret of the show is, for me, also a secret for everything else in life. Months and years go into the preparation and 'behind the scenes' for 5 minutes in the spotlight.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs considering Dragons Den?

Go for it. It really is a a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. I had a huge adrenaline rush after pitching in Dragons' Den, I think because of the need to perform under pressure. Talking about your passion, finessing your storytelling skills are invaluable skills for any entrepreneur too.

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