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BBC hires black dragon

DRAGON: Piers Linney is the latest member of Dragons' Den

DRAGONS’ DEN, the business reality television show on BBC Two, has announced it is replacing Theo Paphitis with Piers Linney, an IT entrepreneur who made part of his fortune in cloud computing.

The new member is to make history for the show by being the first black person to be a dragon, a role which entails judging new business ideas of the public, and being able to spot a profitable venture to invest in from a no-hoper dud.

Linney, of Caribbean heritage, has a diverse career background having worked as a City lawyer, investment banker, and corporate financer. He now runs his own IT business, Outsourcery, which has offices in London, Leicester and Manchester and employs between 150 to 230 people. His company, founded in 2007, turns over £44m a year.

Born to a Bajan mother and English father, the new dragon grew up in Bacup in Lancashire. By the time he was 14 he had already set up his own business – selling newspapers. His entrepreneurial spirit showed itself when he realised doing his paper round he could make more money by buying the papers directly from the supplier and selling them onto the customer, instead of the newsagent paying him simply to deliver them.

The new dragon told the BBC he was “excited” to be on the show and hoped his presence would “widen the appeal of the Den to information economy entrepreneurs”.

Linney added: “they are key to the future success of the UK economy.”

It is not the first time Linney has been on television, he also appeared on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire. The business pioneer has made consecutive appearances on the Power List too, being ranked as one of Britain’s top 100 most influential black people.

In 2011, he told the publication: “I’ve never met myself – that is, anyone with a Caribbean heritage – in a field in which I’ve worked”.

The IT entrepreneur will join the other dragons Duncan Bannatyne, Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden on the show. He will also be accompanied by another new member Kelly Hoppen, who replaced Hilary Devey – the businesswoman left the programme last year to have her own series on Channel 4.

Dragons’ Den’s executive producer Ceri Aston told the BBC Linney had an “inspiring” story.

“Piers is a new breed of dragon. A young and dynamic digital entrepreneur, he has his finger on the pulse of an industry that has never been represented in the Den before,” Aston added.

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