James Buckley entered the den when he was 12 years old with the confidence, tenacity and energy that put some of his older counterparts to shame. James used his real life experiences to drive his passion through the pitch. James Buckley reminisces
‘I showed a drawing to my Mum and told her I had an idea how to make children happier at school. I asked her if I could e-mail my idea to BBC Dragon’s Den. My ever supportive Mum found the e-mail address and I pitched my business to them. It was 18 months later when my Mum received a phone call from the BBC telling her they were filming a Children In Need episode of the den. They wanted me to go and chat to them and take my products with me. Little did they know my products were a scrap of paper. However, I pulled in the help of friends and within 24 hours I had the Look for Loneliness (L4L) products I needed to show the BBC. All went well and I was invited to take part in the show. When I arrived at Pinewood studios I waited for quite a while but eventually got to face the dragons. I remained polite even when Theo, Deborah and Peter said my idea already existed. I think they were talking about the playground sign which is a friendship stop in which you stand by the sign and wait for someone to play with you. I had one at my school and it will haunt me for the rest of my life. I chose my words carefully and eventually said “there’s still nothing like this,” That is when James and Duncan both said they’d like to invest. I really like James as the new Dragon and there was something that swayed me towards him. So that was it, the line that clinched the deal “I think I’ll take the £5000 from James!”
‘I was on cloud nine and couldn’t wait to get up and running. The next twelve months were really hard work. Within a few years I secured a buyer; LDA who supply all the schools in the UK. They love L4L and are marketing it better than I ever could have done. I’m always busy developing new games and products for LDA and really enjoy thinking of new ways to communicate the messages I want to get out there. Thanks to James Caan L4L has been taken beyond my wildest dreams.’
James Buckley was in the den for an hour and took quite a grilling. Despite the intense questioning from Theo, Deborah and Peter regarding an existing product which seemed similar to his, he had the answer to every question. When James and Duncan both said they would invest, James had to decide whether to take half from James and Duncan or just one of them. Despite his earlier admission that he would like to get the investment from Duncan, in the den there was something about James Caan that made him change his mind. “I really liked James as the new dragon and wanted him to feel welcome.”
Look for Loneliness have developed a range of books to help children in the classroom to understand that bullying isn’t acceptable. The Look for Loneliness resource pack includes:
- Playground Signs – these are to remind children to look for others who are being bullied or without friends at playtime.
- 1000 Stickers – to reward a thoughtful child who may have be-friended a lonely child or stopped someone from being bullied.
- Happy Cup –awarded weekly to a pupil who has done something to make someone happy.
- Teacher Resource Sheet – Information on how to make the pack work in schools includes areas of learning and usage.
- CD – A CD of catchy songs with core messages about not leaving children out at school.
- Story Books – The stories are about how it feels to be lonely and left out. There are sixteen colourful story books for each school year.
“Look for Loneliness is a pack worth every consideration for primary schools that are committed to anti-bullying work. It supports a whole school approach and compliments all curriculum work in this area. Children will enjoy the story books which can be used as a base to practice their social skills. The playground signs are a visual reminder to be kind to everyone and to make sure no one is left standing alone and feeling isolated. It’s a great way to ensure children understand being kind to all, accepting differences and diversity and helping their school peers to Stay Safe.” Dr. Samantha Bishop B.Sc, Ph.D, C. Psych, MSFTR, FRSA. ‘We have just received our Look for Loneliness pack and are very impressed with the quality of the resource’ Mandi Locke, Newker Primary School
Twelve months ago, James Buckley thought the Look for Loneliness packs were ready to sell, but soon learnt from James Caan about design rights, copyright, sales and marketing. Now he has the right formula for the packs, James Buckley is certain of their success. In 2009 Findel (the UK’s leading supplier to Primary Schools) approached James wanting to sell Look for Loneliness products in their catalogue. They invested in marketing the product which started with ‘The Education Show’ at the NEC in March 2010. “My passion for L4L has grown and grown. If we start and educate children from the age of 2 that it’s wrong to leave others out of their games, that pushing people around is not acceptable, and that different is good. I’m certain the amount of loneliness and bullying will be greatly reduced.” In November James Buckley was awarded the ‘Princess Diana anti-bullying award’ by Vice Lord Lieutenant and now works as an ambassador for The Princess Diana Award.