Business Irish

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Dragons take Newman's business troubles in their stride

The Dragons, from left, Sean Gallagher, Gavin Duffy, Norah Casey, Bobby Kerr and Niall O'Farrell
The Dragons, from left, Sean Gallagher, Gavin Duffy, Norah Casey, Bobby Kerr and Niall O'Farrell

Allison Bray

INSIDERS on the hit entrepreneurial show 'Dragon's Den' knew for years a business owned by former hurling star DJ Carey and partner Sarah Newman was floundering, it emerged last night.

Executive producer Larry Bass said it came as no surprise to him or the 'Dragons' when it was revealed last week that DJ Carey Enterprises is €1.7m in debt and facing possible collapse. Ms Newman was a judge on the RTE show in the last season it aired.

"For us it's an old story. We were aware there were problems for a number of years. Business is business and we all have our ups and our downs," he told the Irish Independent.

The contract cleaning company's financial woes are reported to be the subject of a garda investigation sparked by an audit in 2009 that revealed €200,000 in unauthorised transactions.

But that wasn't the only reason why Ms Newman -- worth an estimated €35m following the sale of her online hotel booking firm in 2006 -- didn't return for the current third series of the show, Larry Bass said.

Other business commitments in Canada and Switzerland also resulted in scheduling problems, leading her to forgo taking part in this series.

Meanwhile, the 'Dragons' in the current series -- which includes newcomer Norah Casey, a feisty businesswoman and publisher -- have invested a record €600,000 in start-up projects this year -- or more than €1.5m over the three series.

While the venture capitalists are willing to part with more of their own money than ever before, the 'Dragons' are much more dragon-like in finding out how the money will be invested, Bass warned.

"They are more cautious and more exact. They are asking much more searching questions.

"It's given us much better human drama because the guys aren't as speculative with their money and they're not going to throw it around as easily as they would have done three years ago," the producer added.

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