Dragons’ Den’s Piers Linney dreamt of anonymity, but now people approach him with business ideas in the street. Now, as the 12th series of the show begins, the reluctant star is beginning to enjoy his newly found fame.
Linney, the co-CEO of cloud-based IT business Outsourcery, reprises his role on the investors’ panel for the 12th series alongside “great friends” Kelly Hoppen, Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne and Deborah Meaden.
“We get on really well. What happens in the den stays in the den, so you might see us have the odd serious argument but [it’s forgotten] once we get to the green room,” he reveals.
“I’m getting into the flow of things now. The first season, you’re trying to work out the Dragons, their personalities and their tactics, so you probably see more of who I really am this time. Also, last year, people didn’t really know who the new Dragons were, but now they do.”
While he remains tight-lipped about what deals he’s invested in, he reveals: “The other Dragons were saying that the quality is higher than ever in this series.
“I’d like to see more technology in the den. It can be hard to pitch in that environment, but you’re seeing more and more tech-related start-ups - e-commerce and online retailers.”
Linney, who launched his first business at the age of 13, had no doubts about returning to the den.
“It’s a fantastic experience. You’re getting involved with entrepreneurs, making investments, spending time with them and working in new sectors,” he says.
“I did think about it, but it was the right decision to make. I’ve always been a fan, so to be on it is quite amazing.”
But the married father-of-two admits it took some persuasion from a well-known entrepreneur before he actually signed up for the show.
“When they approached me, it wasn’t an immediate yes. I had a long, hard think about getting involved, the time commitment and the profile.
“I was away with Sir Richard Branson on his private game reserve when the producers called. I asked him what he thought, and he said, ‘Screw it, just do it’.”
Being on the programme has meant that Linney is more recognised.
“I get pitched to a lot. You get pitched to everywhere - I’ve yet to meet a cabbie that hasn’t pitched me a business idea.”
Linney, who is half-Barbardian and half-English, is launching a not-for-profit Work Insight scheme to give people of all races and backgrounds access to the workplace.
The new series of Dragons’ Den is on BBC2, Sundays 8pm.