The Tiger's Pen

by Sonny Cutting

How did the roar of the Tiger’s Pen come to be the success it was at the Mid Sussex Net XP expo? The founder of Net XP, Sonny Cutting, was always intrigued by the BBC programme Dragons’ Den, watching in anticipation. Sonny was thrilled to be invited by Pete Jenkins, creator of Gamification+, to be a ‘Dragon’, alongside several other business individuals, at Brighton University where graduates would pitch business plans.

Later whilst walking with his children, an epiphany hit Sonny. With an orange brand, a love for tigers and enjoyment of Dragons’ Den, the puzzle pieces fit together in a eureka moment creating the Tiger’s Pen. A multitude of obstacles was to be overcome in order to bring the ‘Pen’ to fruition including but not limited to setting up branding, finding investors and candidates as well as a compere etc.

Like the puzzle pieces falling into place for the original idea, so did finding four successful Tigers. A conversation with Nassar of Business Pulse meant our first Tiger was on board, swiftly followed by Penina Shepherd of Acumen Business Law, Simon Rand of Newtryx and the incredibly successful Wesley Atkinson.

With four investors in place, the search turned to start-ups. Sonny was looking to find start-ups with passion, who could do an elevator pitch in front of four fiery Tigers and be able to hold their ground. Luke Cartright of NatWest, Greig Orrell of Omniflow, and Freedom Works all played a part in finding start-ups.

The start-ups were put through their paces with a telephone assessment and finally, six were chosen: Carp Hunter Training; Bryony Smith Interiors; Reading Rabbits; Stones Throw Co-Working; Inflatable Boat Fishing; and Matthew and Steven Garden Services. All were excited to potentially get some cash for their business but more importantly for the business mentorship and guidance.

An announcement from our witty compere Greg Draven was heard around the Mid Sussex Expo. The Tiger’s Pen was about to begin. After an introduction from Harry Daymond, Ava of Reading Rabbits was first in the Pen, walking away with three business mentors offering to help grow her business with marketing and business planning. From there, the others pitched, and the ‘Pen’ started trending on social media, demonstrating the power of a successful event. The Tiger’s Pen has been a roaring success and will be rolled out for each exhibition in 2020.