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Glamping Investment Pitch in the Dragons Den with Derry Green of Secret Garden Glamping #066

Pitching to any investor is difficult but imagine being surrounded by TV cameras, studio lights, and four dragon investors. That’s another level! This is exactly what Derry Green of Secret Garden Glamping did when he pitched his idea on the Dragons Den (also known in the USA as Shark Tank).

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Welcome to episode 66 of our podcast, where we dive into the inspiring journey of Derry Green, the founder of Secret Garden Glamping. Derry shares his incredible story of starting a glamping business during the first lockdown in March 2020, which quickly turned into a two-year waiting list success.

Derry’s venture began with a simple camping trip in his garden with his children, which evolved into building a glamping pod. This project gained media attention, and soon people were inquiring about bookings. Derry listed the pod on Airbnb, and it was fully booked for two years within three days.

Fast forward, and Derry has expanded to 12 unique units, with his latest creation, the Wonderland, already sold out until the end of 2025 before even opening. His social media following has grown to nearly three-quarters of a million, with over half a billion views.

In this episode, Derry discusses his recent experience on Dragon’s Den (Shark Tank in the USA), where he sought investment not for financial reasons but for guidance to scale his business. He shares behind-the-scenes insights into the preparation for the pitch, the importance of knowing every aspect of your business, and the value of conveying a clear vision for the future to potential investors.

Derry ultimately received offers from all the dragons and chose to partner with Deborah Meaden, who shared his business philosophy and vision. He emphasizes the importance of passion and ambition when seeking investment and the need to sell yourself, not just the business.

Looking ahead, Derry is signing for a new property, La Mancha Hall, a stately home with 15 acres of land, which will serve as the backdrop for the next phase of his glamping business. This expansion will allow for a broader range of offerings, including events, retreats, and weddings.

Derry’s advice to those looking to gain investment is to focus on the bigger picture and to be prepared to share not just the current success but the potential for future growth. He encourages others in the industry to think creatively and not be deterred by competition, as there is plenty of demand to go around.

For anyone with a property or land interested in collaborating with Derry, the Secret Garden Glamping brand is set to expand even further.

Stay tuned for more inspiring stories and tips on building a strong business in the glamping and unique holiday rental industry.

This is an inspirational episode full of top tips from a seasoned glamping business owner running one of the most successful sites in the United Kingdom.

For more information or to get in touch with Derry Green visit his website:

https://www.thesecretgardenglamping.uk/

If you would like to speak with Sarah Riley then please reach out via:

The Glamping Academy https://glamping.academy

Or Inspired Courses https://www.inspiredcoursesvip.com/

More from the podcast: https://www.inspiredcoursesvip.com/glamping-business-podcast

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If you have something inspiring to offer the world of Glamping and Unique Holiday Rentals then get in touch with Sarah Riley and share it on the Podcast. For more information contact Sarah here.

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THE GLAMPING BUSINESS PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Sarah Riley: When your glamping business has already got a two year waiting list, what on earth inspires you to put yourself through the pressure of going on the dragon’s Den For those of you in the USA, that is the equivalent of Shark Tank. So how did it come about for Dairy Green of the Secret Garden glamping What were his results Did he get investment And how does it work behind the scenes This is something dairy shares and more, including tips for others who are wanting to gain investment. There’s a lot in this episode, so grab yourself a drink and get ready to be inspired to do amazing things. Welcome to episode 66. Glamping and unique holiday rentals are surging in popularity with the growing desire of customers to book holidays, to deliver and experience. They are also the new business of choice for those wanting to improve their work life balance. So how do you build a strong business like this that gives you the life you need and a great investment I’m Sarah Riley, and I want to share what I’ve discovered after being immersed in this industry for over 20 years to inspire you to find out more about what’s going on. Welcome. This is the business of glamping and unique holiday Rentals.

Sarah Riley: Derry, thank you so much for joining me today. I couldn’t wait to chat to you because you’ve previously chatted about your story and how you’ve developed your glamping business to an epic success of having a two year waiting list. That’s a episode 57 if ev Anyone wants to listen to that. But you have since kept going with such momentum. It’s actually quite mind blowing because many people in the kind of entrepreneurial space, they can get a bit distracted by not being able to make a decision, feeling like they can’t do a certain thing. They kind of limit themselves a bit, but you haven’t been limiting yourself at all. So I couldn’t wait to get you on to talk about your recent experience. But for anyone who hasn’t listened to the previous episode, talk a little bit about where you’ve come from, what you’ve been doing, and why you find yourself in this position now.

Derry Green: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it, it’s great to speak to you again. I had a a a great time last time we had a chat. So yeah, the Secret Garden Glamping all started in the first lockdown. So March of 2020. I was stuck at home with my two young children at the time as everybody was. and we had a camping trip in the garden, and from that camping trip in the garden, it it, it was like, like a project that got out of hand. So each day we ju I just kept building a bit more. So it started with a deck so we could camp on so we weren’t camping on the grass. And then as that evolved, that that deck got a bit bigger and I added a fire pit, and then I added some furniture, and then I added, well, started building what I now know to be a glamping pot.

Derry Green: and as days turned into weeks into months, by the end of it, I then created, a whole glamping space, within my garden. And that was it. It was always just a, something to do with the kids and somewhere for us to spend our time. We knew we was not gonna be going on holiday for a long time with, with Covid, so it was somewhere we could spend that summer and, and, and relax. But from that, a story came out, in Covid about what a dad had built in lockdown for his kids when everybody was building home bars and things like that. And there’s a photo of me and my son and my daughter and, you know, it was like a proud dad what I’d built for him. And that was it. And then people started messaging me through social media and asking if they could book it for a holiday, which at the time seemed crazy to me.

Derry Green: You know, I thought, it is just in my garden. Why would you wanna come and stay here but, you know, I thought, well, I had nothing to lose. And I put it on Airbnb and then Airbnb took it and put it on their homepage. And then from there it was booked for two years in advance within the space of like three days. And it, I was blown away by it. And I’d never thought of running, you know, a a, a glamping business or an accommodation business. And, you know, I quickly realized it was something I needed to, to learn how to do. And capitalizing on that first, you know, that that first unit I saw there was a gap in the market for what I’d done. You know, people, glamping Hass been around for a long time and people have done lots of things, but it was trying to bring something new to the industry.

Derry Green: so from there, you know, what, three years later now, we’ve got 12 different units. So we’ve just finished our newest one, the Wonderland. so we’re doing the photo shoot for that this afternoon and this evening, ’cause that opens to guests next week. so nobody’s seen that unit yet. All they’ve seen is a logo and that’s sold out within 47 minutes. so that’s fully booked until about the end of 2025 at the moment. But nobody’s seen the photos because they only get released next week and when the first guests stay. So yeah, it’s been, it’s been phenomenal. We’re up to nearly three quarters of a million followers on social media now. We’ve had over half a billion views. Our audience is phenomenal. And that’s growing day on day, week on week. so now it’s, it’s always been about expanding. You know, I, I love designing units, I love building units. I love coming up with different creative things to do in each one. And, and yes, seeing where the, the journey can take us next.

Sarah Riley: I think the thing that really stands out for me for what you just said there is how you listen to your customer and what they were asking for. Yeah. And you duplicated that and you’ve built on that and you’ve made new things. And the very fact that you’ve been able to sell out something that people haven’t even seen yet shows to me that you’ve also built this amazing relationship between yourself and your audience. They trust you. They know you are going to create something amazing. They like what you’ve done before and that’s why they’re willing to pay for something that they’ve not seen. I mean, it’s really taken you by surprise that it sold out that quickly.

Derry Green: Yeah. To be fair, every time I do it, it still amazes me. When I did the first one, you know, the first one was in Covid and everybody was looking, you know, they were stuck at home wanting to get out. I understand why that took off so well, and I can see the kind of marketing behind it and what people were looking for, you know, three years down the line. Now you can go anywhere you want, you can do anything you want, but people are still relating to what we’re doing and what, what I’m building here, and it is building up. It’s, it’s the brand and around what we do. So, you know, what you said just a minute ago was perfectly right. It was trust People know what I’ve done before and they know whatever I’m gonna do is gonna be something better than I’ve done before.

Derry Green: So if you look at the first unit we did the hideout compared to the latest one we’ve done. So the Wilderness Spa, it is like night and day. You know, each time we learn something, we come up with new ideas, we, we figure out what worked really, really well in that unit, what we can do to make the next unit better. And people know that. So they know whatever we’re gonna do next is gonna be amazing. It’s not suddenly gonna be a dip off from what we’ve done. It’s gonna be another level up from where we are. And so it’s constantly evolving and making each one unique and different. So yeah, building that, that confidence in the audience. So now they’re at the point where they know it’s gonna be phenomenal and they also know if they don’t book it straight away, then it’s gonna be gone. Mm-Hmm. So if they wait till this week, for example, when we launch the photos of what it’s gonna be like, everybody will wanna book it to where they’re ahead of the, of the curve sort of thing.

Sarah Riley: So does this mean you’ve been tracking how many people are coming back to your business so you know exactly how many repeats you get

Derry Green: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So it’s, our repeat business is, is really, really high. So we’ve had people now who’ve stayed in, I think the most is 10 units. We’re building ’em quicker than they can stay. So we’ve had somebody who stayed in 10 different units. ’cause each one is unique, although they have the same overall theme. So that’s where it comes down to, to trust within the audience. So they know they’re gonna get minimum standards. It’s gonna be, they’re gonna have a hot tub, they’re gonna have outdoor space, they’re gonna have wifi, they’re gonna have under floor heating toilets. So all the, the standard stuff within our brand is still there, but then each one is gonna be even more unique. Even Quirkier have something that the other ones don’t. So you’re still building around a base and then expanding on that.

Sarah Riley: How many units do you have in total now

Derry Green: So we’re now opening number 12, which is the Wonderland. And then we’ve got one more unit at this current site called the Lux, which is under construction at the minute. And that’s due to open in April. The dates for that are gonna go online at the end of this month. so it’s usually about, about three months before the unit opens is when the, the pre bookings go online, and that’s when they sell out. Then.

Sarah Riley: So I recently saw you at, well, I say recently, it was back last year in September at Mm-Hmm. , industry show. And you were running around buying things left, right, and center. And I’d been hearing about what was going on in your new project and incredibly exciting. But I’m really interested in how you, what led you to go from Secret Garden glamping, which you’ve set up Mm-Hmm. to now this new project. Tell me a little bit about that journey and how that happened.

Derry Green: So again, the, the, the stumbling block, although it’s a good stumbling block to have, is availability for us. So we’ve always had that issue from the start. We’ve been fully booked and we’re having to turn, you know, currently we’re turning away around a thousand bookings a week, and it gets more and more as our audience grows. So every time our audience grows, so every time we launch a new unit or there’s a new, publication out about us or whatever it is, our audience grows. So then it’s harder and harder for especially repeat customers, which we love to have to get those bookings that they want because there’s more of an audience there in the first place to try and get hold of them. So we, we’ve known from, well, the early days that I’ve had to expand, I, I genuinely thought by the time in years to come, we got to the end of this site.

Derry Green: That’d be more than enough, but we’re now three years ahead of where I thought we’d be. And we’re already, you know, we’re still fully booked on everything. So when we was trying to make one or two or three units, you know, be successful at the time, that was probably relatively easy. When we get to 12 and 13 units, that’d be much harder to fill those, but we filled those or could fill those 10 times over. So the obvious choice now is to expand, and offer, take what we do into a, a, you know, a larger kind of format then.

Sarah Riley: So what was your thinking around going from glamping Yeah. To going to a larger property

Derry Green: So we’ve noticed, and I think the whole industry has in general, so where before glamping probably specifically, but again, I guess staycations and the midweek staycations, which is where everybody struggles. You know, everybody can fill a weekend, you know, kids are off, you’re off work, whatever else. The midweek thing has always been the challenge, and that’s always been targeted at kind of couples who can maybe get away if they haven’t got kids, maybe younger couples, things like that. So what we’ve noticed, especially over the past 12 to 24 months, is that people are now holidaying in larger groups. So it’s multi-generational families. So it’s now not just mum and dad and kids, it’s mum, dad, kids, grandma, granddad, maybe an auntie or an uncle and their kids. And they want to, they want a holiday together because of Covid. Again, they’ve not been able to see each other, and they, they’ve realized that actually spending time together, especially out, you know, outdoors as a, as a family group, is really beneficial.

Derry Green: and then also when it comes down to even couples or groups of families, what they can afford as a, as a, an individual is a lot less than they can afford as a group. So we do it quite often when we, we’ve done this for 10, 15 years, I think we go away as a group of friends each year snowboarding. And rather than each staying in a hotel and it costing X amount, we hire an Airbnb or, a chalet, and we split it between 10 or 12 of us. And it becomes really, really cheap to do because you’re splitting it with a larger group. So these larger properties, larger accommodations, more luxurious accommodations is what people are now looking for because they want to be able to accommodate everybody in one space, but still have their own individual spaces to go to at night. Whether that be multiple units on a site where they can all go and sleep on their own, but congregate in the daytime or with bigger houses and things like that, where they can all have their own bedrooms. Gone are the days of, well, mom and dad can sleep on the sofa bed and auntie and uncle can go in the, in the loft or something like that. Everybody wants to have their own comfort and space, but still be able to get together.

Sarah Riley: Mm-Hmm, absolutely. Yeah. So what led you to, I mean, most entrepreneurs are looking for investment when they’re looking for a bigger project, a new project, but what specifically led you to go into the Dragons Den

Derry Green: So, dragons Den all came about on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, and a message popped up through Instagram from one of the producers on Dragons Den saying they’d seen our content on there, and would I’d be interested in going pitching to the, to the Dragons. Now, it’s never something I’ve thought of in, in a million years. I’ve watched Dragons for forever. and I never thought in a million years I’d be on it, let alone looking for an investment, because it, in all honesty, an investment isn’t what we need at the moment. You know, from, from a a cashflow point of view, there’s no, there’s no need for it. We’re fully self-funded. We can expand as we go along. but what actually really intrigued me with Dragons Den, which I think has changed over the years, where people used to go in specifically because they needed, you know, 50,000 pounds to buy this piece of equipment.

Derry Green: Actually what people need help with now is a direction to drive the business forward in. You know, we’re still a really small kind of group of people. There’s me who runs everything. I’ve now got Chelsea, my partner, who does social media, and I’ve got a site manager and things like that, but it’s still all sat on my shoulders. And with so much coming in and so many different directions we can go, it needs a larger team. so the interest to me was having a dragon on board and being able to use their larger team to be able to take this out quicker than what I can do it.

Sarah Riley: So tell me your experience with it. How did you put your pitch together How did you put your investment, idea together How did that all work

Derry Green: Yeah, so that was a, a really long process because behind the scenes there’s a huge amount goes into it before you even get anywhere near the den. So for me, it was a really good learning process into exactly how my business works, stuff that I don’t do day to day. So all the due diligence side of stuff, which took months and months and months before we got anywhere near the den. Every figure, every piece of information about my business had to be collated and sent in a pack. And that process was really eyeopening to me because it, I could have an overview of everything in one place where normally what I do is as we expand, we do a bit more and a bit more and a bit more, and we actually don’t really see where it comes from, and I just kind of go with it.

Derry Green: But that was really good for me. but then when it came down to things like, you know, getting the pitch right, how I’m going to portray this, this business across to the dragons, ’cause it is very hard. We only have, you know, a certain amount of time in the den. We only have a certain amount of space to do. You know, ’cause how do you, how do you, do a set of a glamp in sight in the dragons den It’s not a very easy thing to do. but that was something that I just spent, I, I set aside every morning. I got up at half past five every morning I got my shoes on and I walked down the woods and I walked down the woods for about half an hour going over things. And every day I’d, I’d just add a little bit more and a little bit more until I got, you know, the figures in my head, the, the, speech in my head, everything, all that sort of stuff.

Derry Green: And then it was just repetitive over and over and over just making sure. ’cause I didn’t want to be that person who goes on and goes, yeah, , I forgot that bit. Or, I don’t know. ’cause that, you know, you see that mistake over and over again. And I understand because when it’s nerve wracking, your brain can go off sideways. Yeah. So I try to put myself in situations, whether it be walking around the house, doing it with the kids, talking over the top of me or the phone ringing, or Chelsea asking what we’re doing tonight. You know, all these distractions that are coming in and me trying to keep on focus on, in my head on what I’m saying. And that really did help me. It was something that, that I, I found very beneficial. And then when we went into the den, it, it really showed then.

Sarah Riley: Yeah, it’s interesting ’cause I speak from stage and I know a lot of people who do, and obviously you are on Dragons Den and, and people pitch for other things that I speak to. And also because I’ve had a history of brain damage. So I know a bit about how the brain works. Mm-Hmm. And the frontal lobe at the front here, when you go into fight or flight, which many of us do, when we go through those situations, the body cuts off some of the blood supar supply to certain parts of the brain, including the frontal lobe. And that’s to allow you to have your basic prehistoric kind of functions that you need to be able to run away from that lion, kill that dragon. Yeah. Yeah. You know, all of those things. Unfortunately, this means that it does stop you from being able to think clearly and from being able to put into place kind of that logical reasoning. And what you’ve talked about there is how you managed to get a lot of that information into your memory storage bank that didn’t need to rely on that logical thinking. It became more of a habit. It became more of a, you know, something that was there and didn’t need those parts of the brain Yeah. Pulling it out. So, yeah.

Derry Green: And I think for me, that that that rehearsal was the, the bit that I needed to do when it comes to the business and the question, you know, you, you’ve got the initial pitch that you have to give. That was the thing that I was worried about because if you forget it or you get off track and it suddenly goes the wrong way, it’s, it’s a bad start. As with everything, it’s always first impressions, isn’t it So, but when it gets into the business itself, that was really comfortable for me because again, from my point of view, it’s very easy. I’m a hundred percent in charge of everything. So I already know it. It’s not something I’m needing to learn. You, I, I know exactly how the units are booked, how we built them, when they’re opening what we do to do this, that, and the other.

Derry Green: Because I do it all. So I, I’m, I was in quite a unique position. I know a lot of businesses go on with two or three or four partners or whatever it might be. And each person does an individual part in that business where, because it’s all me and just on me, the actual conversations after the pitch were relatively easy for me. It was kind of like me and you chatting now, it was on that one-to-one basis where I don’t really need to recall anything because it’s al it’s already in me. so that bit I found a lot easier, to deal with and the questions going forward. And, you know, my passion for this business is there. It’s not something I’m doing because I have to, it’s doing because I love it. so that, I found it really easy to answer the, the, the, the points that they needed questions on.

Sarah Riley: So talk me through the process. So you, you walked into the lift. Yeah. The lift took you up the, the doors opened. Yeah. And you were faced with the dragons Yeah. And TV cameras everywhere. Yeah. How did that feel stepping into the room in front of them

Derry Green: So it’s still, the way I describe it is, it’s like, it, it sounds corny. It’s like an out of body experience. It’s like I was stood behind myself watching it on tv. It was, it genuinely wasn’t real. And even now when I think about it, that, and again, that initial pitch, it was, it seemed to me robotic because I’d said it so many times. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. So it just came out. It, it, it wasn’t even like, it sounds horrible, but it was like, it didn’t mean anything. ’cause it was just something that was, I had to say when I then got into the pitch, that was a different case entirely. But that first bit, getting out there and walking, ’cause the them lights are very, very bright. and, yeah, it was, it was quite nerve wracking. But, you know, once that pitch was done, it then flowed from there.

Sarah Riley: How long do you have to do that initial pitch Is it a minute

Derry Green: so it’s up to three minutes. Right. Although, again, the producers kind of steer you in certain directions, so you have to submit all this content before you arrive. So if they think it’s maybe too long or doesn’t actually engage with the audience or come across quite correct, they’ll ask you some for some corrections. But that first bit is up to three minutes. I think mine came in at about two and a half minutes.

Sarah Riley: And then what were you ultimately asking for in your pitch

Derry Green: So in the pitch that as, as in regards to figures, I was asking for, a hundred thousand pounds for a 5% stake in the secret garden lamping. Now, ultimately what I was looking for wasn’t the investment, it was the guidance to scale. We, you know, where we’re at now, we’re really well placed in the market. You know, we, we are way out ahead of anybody else, which is great. And, you know, I could quite easily sit here quite comfortably for the next five, 10 years, no problem at all. But that’s not what I want to do now. I want to take this nationwide. and to do that, I need somebody on board who can scale something from not just thousands, but from millions to tens of millions, because that is a whole different journey to what I’ve done. And I’ll be totally honest, it’s not something that I like doing because the whole premise of the secret gardening lamping is it’s not really here to make money.

Derry Green: It is to make an experience, to make a guest’s, holiday something that they can remember. And I know for a fact if I run it like a business, that the business will suffer because of that. If I start penny pinching on, you know, why do we put chocolates in there when customers arrive, we don’t need to do that. Why do we, let ’em have X, Y, and Z within the, the packages We don’t need to do that. ’cause when it comes down to a business point of view, you could strip out a lot, and I think you lose a lot of the, the soul of the business then. So I wanna make sure that I can concentrate on the soul of the business and have somebody with me who can push us in the direction to grow to where we need to be to accommodate the guests that we, we have.

Sarah Riley: What were you saying that you were going to spend that investment on, and what did you hope to achieve for that investment

Derry Green: so that was to, lead us onto a new site. So when we did the filming, which was back in May of last year, that’s when we were looking for a new site because we’re, we, the planning permission after the last one we’re doing, that opens in April. That’s the planning permission done for this site. So the next logical step is to find a new property and expand from there, planning permission again. So it’s, it’s mainly set up costs because our site is fully self-funding. When we launch a unit, which the wonderland that opens next week, we launch that. you know, back last year, that unit is already paid for itself with the pre-booking that it’s done. so there’s the, the business is fully self-funding as far as getting there. But when we first started, there was an initial infrastructure costs. So car park, water, waste, power, footpath, lighting, all this sort of stuff before we actually build a unit, which is what we were looking for, in a, in a dragon.

Sarah Riley: So, from my experience of the whole investment game, I know from speaking to many investors that one of the number one things they’re looking for is someone that they believe in and someone that they feel they can work with and someone who has the same vision as them. And so who finally invested in your project from the dragons

Derry Green: In the end, all the dragons wanted to invest. So all the dragons offered me all the money. Two could actually offered me more than I wanted. but in the end I sold 5% to Deborah Meen. and that was because all the dragons were, were phenomenal. Everybody wanted to invest and everybody would bring something different. But when Deborah was speaking, and she was speaking about my business, every, everything she was saying was, like I said, like I was thinking it, it was like she was in my brain. So everything she was saying about the direction the market’s going and and, and what we can do with it and, and how I look at the business was exactly how I see it. so in the end, yeah, I sold 5% to Deborah Mead. And then,

Sarah Riley: But it’s really interesting because actually what you’re saying is you really wanted to have someone on your team behind you helping to steer you in the direction that’s gonna be best for your business and opening doors and all of that kind of stuff. And yet, so Deborah’s gonna be providing you with that. And she’s a multimillion pound holiday business owner. Mm-Hmm. , she has heaps and heaps of experience of what it takes and how to build a massive holiday business brand. Yeah. And so essentially she’s almost paid you to give you that knowledge, that guidance, and that’s incredible. Yeah. And yet you also get your, you know, your infrastructure put in place for your new project. Yeah. And essentially you were flying before, but she’s just given you a rocket booster power .

Derry Green: Yeah, that’s it. That’s exactly what it is, is because that’s where we need to be now. We need to, you know, it’s been amazing growing organically like we have, but we need, you know, that extra push now because we can’t keep up with the, with the demand. And, we know, you know, I’ve got a million ideas jumping outta my head all the time. And, it’s, it’s being able to have people on board to help me push the vision that I want to. And with Debra, you know, it because it’s, again, it’s not just about, oh, we need X amount and let’s do that. Debra really had the same outlook as me. One of the main, one of the questions that came up in the den was actually off Sarah. Sarah’s lovely. I love Sarah Davis. She’s, she’s amazing. But she asked me, assuming that it was the amta, she said, oh, I assume you, you, you know, you charge different rates at different times of the year.

Derry Green: So when it’s school holidays you charge more. You know, when it’s winter you charge less. And I said, no, I don’t. Because for me, it grates on me that holiday companies, you know, airlines, whatever it might be, always try and add extra charges on when they know they can. So they know that everybody has to go on holiday in the som holiday holidays because you can’t take the kids outta school. So they will charge you twice as much for the privilege of taking your own children on holiday, which is always grating on me. So when it came to this, I thought, no, I’m not gonna do it. I could do, but I’m not gonna, I charge the same whether you come and staying in the middle of the summer holidays or on a Wednesday in December. It makes no odd to me because why should I, why should I charge more to, to guests when they have to come as opposed to when they want to come

Derry Green: So that, that was my like, kind of line in the sand. And Sarah was a bit shocked about it. But then Deborah, which is why I love her, she came up and said, no, you’ve got the absolute right to choose what you charge people. She said, you’ve built this business and if you wanna, you know, put your line in the sand and say, I’m not gonna charge people because I can’t, then that’s where you, that’s where you stand because that’s, and that’s how I feel about it. And things like that only change if people stand up and do something about it. So there’s, you know, if every I could, if everybody just does it, everybody does it. But, you know, I don’t wanna do that. And that’s why, again, you’d think with a dragon, it would literally be about profit, right Okay, we can make more money here, let’s do that. Where it seemed like with Deborah, it wasn’t about that because it does come down to your philosophy and what you believe and what you think is right, which really, you know, resonating with, with what I do.

Sarah Riley: Yeah, I can definitely see that Deborah is almost pitching to you at that point. She was obviously interested in your project and she was connecting with a similar vision that you both have a similar ethos. So very, very clever. so in terms of your investment, you’re gonna be putting it into infrastructure. So tell me a little bit about your new piece of land.

Derry Green: Yeah, so the new site, we’re actually signing for today. So this afternoon, we bought a place called LA Mania Hall. So it’s a big stately home, 15 acres of land. It is stunning. Grade two listed, it’s phenomenal. And with that, there’s a five acre piece of woodland. So what we wanna do is take what we’ve done now, at our woodland here, but also have that background of a beautiful stately manner, and have all the things that come with it. So where now we’re quite limited where we are, we have the units and we have the space here, but there’s nothing really around us. You know, we’re, we’re surrounded by open fields, that’s it. Once the, the customers are in the units, that’s it. But actually what we, again, as we’ve come out of Covid, people want to interact with each other. People want to do other things. We want to add on more facilities. So for example, there’s a huge outdoor swimming pool. So we’re gonna do a day spa based around that. We’re gonna be able to offer restaurant food, drinks, bars, things like that. All these additions to, to what we already do in a stunning setting.

Sarah Riley: Mm-Hmm. And do you have meeting areas, communal areas now

Derry Green: Yeah, well, again, as we go forward, out of, out of Covid. Now, obviously our kind of model was always about the seclusion of that unit. So each unit is designed, so it’s totally enclosed. It’s not overlooked by anybody. Everything has dedicated facilities, which is what people still want when they’re going away. But again, as I said earlier on, when people are holidaying, as, you know, larger groups or so groups of families or whatever else, they want their own space, which is great, but then they want places to congregate together, whether that be, you know, outdoor facilities, whether that be indoor facilities, different things like that. That’s what people want to do now and that’s where we’re the direction we’re going with our, with our units now.

Sarah Riley: So do, so you are signing for this whole stately home as well as the land Yeah, everything.

Derry Green: Yeah.

Sarah Riley: So that’s really exciting because that’s really gonna diversify your offering. You are going to be able to do, events, meals, retreats, weddings, weddings is so lucrative. So is this the way you plan to go, along the events experience, style of things as well as providing an experience based accommodation

Derry Green: Yeah, exactly. We wanna add more things because we get requests for so many different things, whether that be corporate events, whether it be weddings, whether it be vow renewals, you know, even down to, you know, the kind of Hindu, which has changed a lot recently. You know, gone to the Kiss me quick hats in Blackpool, and now it’s all about treating the bride to something that’s really nice for them to do. and having all these different facilities we can, we can accommodate not only a lot more guests, but a lot more, activities and things that they can do. I think the direction of the market now and where we’re going with it is certainly that, you know, upper class, more luxurious, you know, ultimate seclusion type of, type of venue. and that’s the direction we are going with it now. So yeah, it’s gonna be a, a phenomenal project and we’ve, you know, obviously we’ve gained a lot of notoriety within the, the, the glamping economy and, and, glamping forums and stuff.

Derry Green: And people are seeing what we are doing and how we’re doing it. It might be the way we design the units, the furniture, we use, the, you know, different plants or different hot tub areas or whatever else. And all these individual parts of the units are replicated. You know, we, there, there’s lots of other sites across the UK now doing similar things to what we are doing. So they’ll see us put a new unit on and then they’ll do, you know, a similar hot tub area or bar areas or neons or plant walls. And you see all these things coming into the market now. So when we’re looking, going forward, now, what can we do to make sure we’re, we’re staying ahead and this, this sort of site, it can’t be replicated. I could live to be a hundred and have all the money in the world and I cannot replicate that site. You know, the, the, the, the formal gardens there have been there for over 200 years. I couldn’t replicate that if I tried forever. so what we want to do is now take not only what we’re doing within glamping, but incorporate that into a much larger experience.

Sarah Riley: So it’s really interesting what you’re saying there about the fact that there are copycats out there. Yeah. So I know that this is part of, unfortunately business, I’ve had exactly the same happen to my own business. Copycats take what you’ve designed from scratch and then they just repurpose it and do exactly the same. Yeah, but I’ve not really heard somebody say it in the same way that I feel it is, which is okay, that’s fine. I can still come up with these ideas, I can still move forward and do something different and find my USP and find my new project and find my thinking because I’ve come up with it creatively. Is that the way you think about it in, in terms of those copycats Yeah,

Derry Green: Absolutely. Because at the end of the day, I always think about it the other way. If the shoe was on the other foot and I was coming to the market and somebody was doing something phenomenal, I would absolutely go in that direction. It, it, it, it’d be stupid not to. It is the honest answer. If somebody’s doing really well, yeah, let’s do something totally different. It doesn’t, you know, sometimes it does work and you, you know, when you, when you kind of, come into a market and you change the direction of that market. So I don’t, I don’t have any gripe with anybody doing it because it’s what I do. And in all fairness, if people are replicating what I’m doing, it just means that more people are seeing similar Id, similar units to mine. So ultimately that’s what people expect. So this is what I, I tend to find now as we go forward, whenever people are replicating, it’s always what I did a year ago or two years ago.

Derry Green: Because by the time we launch something new, we’re already, you know, stage 4, 5, 6, and seven ahead. But, and, and that’s fine. There’s no issue with, with the units themselves. So we always try and come up with something more that we can do. And that’s what I love doing. That’s the challenge for me as we go forward. But then it’s now finding, okay, well we can replicate this over and over again ’cause we’re gonna do the same. If I open three or four or five more sites and replicate what we’ve done here, they’ll all be very similar. So what is going to distinguish site A from site B, from site C within my own organization, not only within the whole, you know, glamping economy itself. So I need to find things that are gonna separate my own units and my own sites from myself as well as what everybody else is doing.

Sarah Riley: I also believe it’s a little bit of, mindset. So a lot of people come from a place of scarcity, and so they kind of think, oh, if they’re copying me, there’s not gonna be enough customers to go around and therefore I’m gonna lose my business and I’m going to eventually die as a business. Whereas you are coming to it with the idea of actually there’s lots of guests to go around, there’s lots of people who wanna stay. What you are doing is kind of helping reeducate the consumer really into what is now an expectation within the market and what they can expect, what they can buy and, and everything else that’s available to them. So you are kind of reeducating them, which is really interesting. So at a time when the industry is a little bit for some shaky, obviously not for you, there is definitely a sense of scarcity around amongst some people.

Sarah Riley: Mm-Hmm. . And that I think is de is founded. I can understand why that might be when someone has been doing really well for a long time and then because of the cost of living crisis and everything else, people pulling back, they’re spending how many holidays they’re booking. That’s kind of changing things a little bit for some people. Yeah. So your view of the industry and the fact that it’s going in a different way, which is more quality, high class, high end, yeah. What has made, other than your experience in the industry, what’s kind of made you go along that thinking that that’s where we are going at a time when many are saying, oh no, no, no, I’ve gotta put my prices down. I’ve gotta make it more affordable because people, that’s what people want. Yeah. If you’re saying the opposite.

Derry Green: Yeah. So it is, this is why I, you know, I speak to everybody whenever I go to any event or any, you know, I’m, I’m doing some talks this month as well, I’ll talk about every single part of this for free. I do, I do not care. Because to me, the more, the more focus there is on glamping or unique accommodations to me as a, as a wider part, that’s only gonna benefit me if we are taking away customers from hotels or from holiday companies or people going to Beome or to, you know, the south of France or whatever else. That’s only gonna ultimately benefit me because we’re trying to get, I’m trying to get as many people to focus on the UK staycation economy as possible. And that way we all will benefit as a, you know, as a larger group. But again, what I, you are right, you know, the cost of living has been, has been a thing that’s coming along for a while.

Derry Green: And this is what comes back to what we were saying earlier about, holiday in as, as larger groups now, multi-generational families. What what people have realized is actually, yeah, if I, from my own point of view, if I go away with Chelsea and the kids and we go away for a, a week to bead all in theory, that cost is all on me. You know, if I’m bringing the money in, although there’s four of us, and you could think, well, I’m gonna split. It’s four ways. So it’s a couple of hundred quid each. It’s not, ultimately it’s me paying the full amount. Well, actually, if you go away as some couples or some families or with nan and granddad and auntie and uncle, and you can split that cost down. We’ve done it for a long, long time. My brother lives in Mississippi, so me and my partner and the kids and my mom and my brother and his wife all descend on, on Florida ’cause he drives down and we hire, a villa, which we wouldn’t be able to afford myself on my own.

Derry Green: But between, you know, three different families, we can afford that villa and we can all holiday there actually cheaper than we could if it was just me and the kids. So we’ve, I’ve noticed that for a long, long time. And then that’s really kind of hit home, especially in this cost of living crisis, where actually if you can split something down between 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 people, then it’s way, way better. so the, the main one that I’ve noticed is with ours, for example, so when people say, you know, our units, the starting price on our units are, at the minute, sort of 200, 220 pound a night, which can be quite expensive if it was just a couple. But what we tend to find is most people are coming as a group of three or four, you know, women who wanna get away from the husbands or, you know, get away from the kids or whatever else.

Derry Green: So when it’s that amount, it’s actually only 55 pounds each, which is cheaper than staying in a premier ring. So when you look, the higher the market goes, and the larger you can accommodate, the cheaper that becomes per person. So when you are looking at, I, I was speaking to a guy yesterday who wants to come on board and we we’re gonna do something together and he’s got a stately home in, in Scotland. In Scotland, and that accommodates 24 people and he charges 2000 pounds a night. And, you know, 2000 pound a night, that’s crazy money to, to, I mean, it’s a beautiful home, but it’s 2000 pound a night, but between 24 of you, I doubt anybody could find anywhere to stay even pitching up a tent at a campsite for that amount of money if there’s that many people. So it becomes way more affordable and ultimately you have a better experience. Mm-Hmm.

Sarah Riley: So this is obviously the way you’re going with the stately home. Yeah. which the stately home, is it going to be divided up in terms of having the same kind of accommodation internally Is it gonna be designed like a hotel Tell me a little bit about the bricks and mortar side of things.

Derry Green: so to be fair, the, the main focus at the moment is, on the glamping site itself. Getting all that set up and running the, the, the stately home at the moment is gonna be the backdrop to, to everything with that, it, it, you know, it comes with stables and coach houses and outbuildings. I’m sure there’s lots of different things we can do with it as we go forward. but it’s mainly to have that, that kind of space for people to, to relax and unwind again, if you’re doing a wedding or an event or if you, you, you’re hiring out the site and you’ve got this phenomenal place to, to, to one the round in, we don’t actually need to do anything with, with there as of yet. And then it, you know, we, we, we can go forward from there.

Sarah Riley: Oh, that’s really exciting. I’m so excited. So yeah, I mean, you’ve been incredibly generous to the industry, to the community, to business owners, and I know that you’ve spent a long time talking to lots of people about different things they can do to improve their business and, and learn lessons from what you’ve done and all that kind of stuff. And I know that people are very, very grateful for all of that. And if I could be so bold as to ask if you had any tips for people who might be looking to gain investment. Yeah. And if you could maybe summarize a few of your top tips and, give me a little bit of an idea about why they are your top tips.

Derry Green: Ooh, that’s a good one. So we, throughout the process with Dragons Den, what the, the big thing for me was being able to culminate everything into one place. If you don’t know every part of your business, every figure, nobody else is gonna buy into it with an investor. What they’re, like you said earlier, they’re not really just looking for the pounds and PEs, although they do have to stack up. What they want to know is that you are driven, that you’re motivated, that you’re ambitious, that you want to do something with the brand or the offering that you are, that you are doing. so really you’re selling yourself rather than selling the business. That’s what any investor is gonna look for when they’re going forward. And it’s, it’s kind of similar to what we’re doing now, you know, as we’re looking to expand to multiple sites.

Derry Green: So we’re, as we go forward now, we’re looking to bring in other partners and other venues and other sites that still want to run a business, but alongside what we’re doing, because I can’t be in 10 places at the same time. So what I’m looking for in somebody is, is somebody who is ambitious and passionate about the business. ’cause that’s, at the end of the day, what everybody’s looking for. You know, it, it’s gotta stack up from an investment point of view. But I think you’ll find today a lot of investors are, philanthropic. You know, it, it is not just about they, if they’ve made money in, you know, doing X, Y, and Z, they actually want any investment they’re doing to be a benefit, whether that be to the environment, to the local economy, to the people that you’re employing, whatever else it might be. So all these things are important. It’s not just, okay, we take X amount per year and we make this per year, but actually we’re poisoning the planet, or we’re, you know, destroying parts of the forest or whatever else it might be. It’s really important to investors now, your outlook on the business and, and how you, how you are going to drive that forward and, and making sure that you’re doing it within, you know, the, the, the framework that they wanna work with.

Sarah Riley: Mm-Hmm. So they aren’t looking just for the money, but would you say that certainly a top tip for you was honing your pitch and knowing exactly what you’re gonna say, but how did you structure that

Derry Green: Yeah, so the, the pitch itself, like I said, getting, when I got all the information together and actually going through it, there were certain parts of the business that, that I thought maybe were less important. And when I sat and worked it all out, I, I realized what investors are looking for. So, although I thought it was really important to be able to show every individual part of what I’ve done here, which is great, you know, it’s a, it is a great business, but especially with Dragons Den, they’re not really looking to buy a glamping site. That’s not what they’re investing in. They’re investing in your vision to what you can do going forward. So they, for example, Deborah investing in here at 5%, it would take a 50 years to make a money back, maybe something like that. But that’s not what the investment is.

Derry Green: The investment is in me to be taking this business to five and 10 and 20 sites. So what the investor wants to see is a clear path forward from where, you know, right, you’ve done X and you’ve done that really well, that’s great. That’s your kind of security to say that I’ve done it already and it’s done really well. But what they want is a vision going forward. How are you gonna make this business, you know, a 10 million pound brand, a hundred million pound brand, you know, if you’re looking at like Apple and Tesla or billions of pounds, what takes you from there to where we need to be, where an investor who’s got 5% is suddenly making millions a year off that. And it’s not gonna be from doing a glamp in sight in Kelman Dale, but it is gonna be doing multiple locations across the country and then across the world as we go forward. So I, at the start of it, I focused a heck of a lot on the individual parts of this business where when I sat and thought about it, what I needed to do is say, this is what we’ve done and this is how we’re gonna take it to 10 sites and 20 sites.

Sarah Riley: Mm-hmm. Really interesting and fantastic advice. I think that that’s definitely how people need to get out of the weeds of their own business. Yeah. To think about the bigger vision and how can they construct that in a pitch to their investors to make it a, a really exciting prospect for the future. Yeah. So that they know they’re investing in a, in a much bigger thing. yeah, so this is going on in a couple of days on UK television where people can watch you, but obviously this is going to be published after that. How can people catch up and watch you walking into the Dragons Den

Derry Green: so yeah, it’s airing on Thursday the 11th to 8:00 PM but then I think within about five minutes of it air and it goes straight onto iPlayer, so you can catch it on iPlayer, anytime after, after 9:00 PM on Thursday. and then obviously it’ll be on social media channels, my social media, BBCs Dragons den. so there’s lots of lots of different ways you can catch up, but BBC iPlay is definitely the best one. You can do that on your smart TV or on your, phone anytime.

Sarah Riley: I’ll be sure to leave some links there. And also, you are obviously still operating Secret Garden Glamping. You are open for people to book and that’s going to be, is it going to be the same name and brand for your new business

Derry Green: Yeah. So as we go forward now, we’re gonna have the Secret Garden glamping at such a place. So the current site is the Secret Garden Glamping at Moll Hall. Then we’ll have the next one and the next one. So each one will still be the Secret Garden Glamping brand. Although, again, as we expand, ’cause it’s not just glamping that we want to do, you know, the whole holiday accommodation market is something that we’re looking at. So whether that be boutique hotels, larger accommodations like stately homes and things like that, there’s lots of different things that we can take from what we’ve done in glamping into other parts of holiday accommodation because it, it is all relevant. You know, people are looking to get away, whether that be in a glamping pod, in a stately home, in a really nice hotel, whatever it might be, people are, it’s, it’s all the same sort of customers who are still looking to get away and experience something. And that can be glamping in a woodland, it can be sailing on a boat, it can be staying in a manor house. It’s all these different things combined.

Sarah Riley: So if somebody had a property Yeah. And they had something that, or a piece of land and they’re thinking, I really like this dairy. I want, I wanna work with him, or I wanna speak to him about how we could, you know, link up our visions. How would they do that How would they get in touch

Derry Green: Easiest way is either straight through my social media, so either Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok at the Secret Garden glamping or on the website. My phone number is on the website. It always is. So the main contact number on the website is still me, always will be. so you can give me a ring on there or send me an email, info at the Secret Garden Glamping uk. I, I think with, again, as we go forward, it’s something we haven’t spoke about before, but collaborations across different businesses and different industries is huge at the moment. That’s what really resonates with audiences. And I want to collaborate with as many different people as possible. And it might be something that we’re doing here or something similar. It might be we can take a popup unit to their site and, you know, promote their site. Overall. There’s all different avenues that we can go down.

Derry Green: And it doesn’t have to be, you know, we have a specific franchise model, but we can have partnership agreements, we can have licensing agreements, we can just have a collaboration on social media that works really well. There’s all different options and I, I hate saying no to anything , so I love it. It like the, the the movie. Yes, man. I find the further down the path you go, it will figure its way out along the way. So I love to find out if people have any ideas of different directions they want to go with things that we could go with things. I’m happy to link up with anybody.

Sarah Riley: So as you are a serial. Yes, man. . Yeah. How on earth do you ever get some time off

Derry Green: Well, you know what, actually, and again, this is a funny little thing. When I, when I speak to, I was speaking to a friend of mine the other week and he said, you need to work less. You’re working too much. And I said it like, genuinely, and it sounds, you know, like airy fairy, I don’t work like this is my absolute passion, it’s my hobby. I would do it for free. All it is like a friend of mine, he really loves, going, watching F1 and when he goes watching F1, that’s his hobby. That’s it. It is not work to him because that’s his hobby. And it’s the same with me here. This is my hobby. I would do this every day for free. So I never, I’m never going to work. I’m talking with people like yourself. After this conversation, I’m gonna go and do a photo shoot on one of the new units, then we’re going sign in for the new property. There’s so many exciting things. If only I didn’t have to fall asleep, yes, I’d be happy. Then I could carry on all day and all night. It’s brilliant.

Sarah Riley: Do you know what you have just mirrored It’s something that I’ve said before time and time again. I always get the weirdest looks from people when I say it. And I always say, I just wish I didn’t have to go to sleep. . And they just don’t get it. They just don’t see it or understand it. I think that is truly the word said of someone who loves what they do and is building something a a legacy for their family. And I think it’s fantastic. I wish you all the luck, luck in the world. I’m so pleased for the, you, you that you managed to get this investment and I know that you’re gonna go places and I hope you continue to come back to the podcast and, and inspire us with all of your news.

Derry Green: I love it. I do. I genuinely love speaking to you. It was great last time and it is. I like actually from your podcast last time I had so many people message me just asking me questions about stuff and I’ve had conversations for three, four hours on the phone just after an email because they listened to this podcast and they were asking it, it, it was, you know, as people asking about how I do my social media or how I do, you know, the unit or whatever else it might be, I’ll talk to anybody forever. My Mrs. Ick, she goes crazy, Chelsea because I’m always doing it. I did it last night and was sat on the phone to somebody for about two hours just chatting away because I love it. I genuinely love talking about this industry. I think it’s phenomenal. Anybody who’s, you know, down heartened with it at the minute or, or thinking that it’s not quite going the right way. It, there’s lots of different things you can do and I, and the, the, the customers will be there if you have the right, you know, the right outlook on it. And it’s, it’s gonna be, I think 2024 is gonna be a hard year. ’cause there, there’s a lot of stuff going on, but as long as you get the foundations right, it will we’ll build it for the future. Mm.

Sarah Riley: It’s really interesting you say that as well, that you know, someone is a bit down heartened by what’s going on. Maybe they just need to look over there and see what’s going on and you know, maybe just investigate something else.

Derry Green: Well it is, you know what, one of the questions that comes up all the time is with social media especially people ask me questions on social media all the time because of, because of our audience. You know, our audience is the largest of any holiday company in the uk. We’ve got a bigger audience than center parks and they were worth 4 billion and I’ve got 12 units in scam. You know, it’s not , it’s not a hard thing to do, but the one thing that I always say to do with social media is, look who’s doing well. It’s, I guess it is, like I was talking earlier, it’s kind of frowned upon a little bit. Well you, you know, I don’t wanna copy what somebody else is doing. It’s not so much copying what they’re doing, but learn from what they’re doing. So the thing I always suggest is go on to my social media, go on to center, park social media, go any social medias that are doing well look at what they’re doing and why they’re doing well.

Derry Green: So it doesn’t have to be a word for word plagiarism, copy of something. But if they’re doing a lot of, social media about events, maybe try some more about events. If they’re doing a lot of social media about the units, try doing some about them. There’s no harm in seeing what other people are doing and trying to kind of go with the time. If you’re fighting against it, it’s always gonna be hard. So that’s the one thing that I always say with people, look on our social media, see what we’re doing. It obviously works. So try and follow along those steps. And it is the same when it comes to the units or the things you offer. There’s no harm in, in, in looking at what other people are doing because it, to me, some people might not, might not like it. To me it benefits the whole market if we’re all going in the same direction.

Sarah Riley: I think that’s brilliant. Wise words. Thank you so much Derry for your time today. I know it’s been a big chunk out of your day and I do appreciate it and so do my listeners.

Derry Green: Oh, you’re very welcome. Anytime. and yeah, I’m sure we’ll chat again soon.

Sarah Riley: Thank you. Goodbye.

Derry Green: Bye.

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