Dragons' Den: 6 most successful businesses from the show
The dragons have invested millions over the years.
We love sitting down to watch new episodes of Dragons' Den , which has recently returned to screens with a new series - and line-up of fearsome investors ready to part with their cash.
Collectively, the Dragons have invested millions of pounds into the businesses of hopeful entrepreneurs who have dared to enter the den across the show's 16-year history. But which ones actually took off? Keep reading for five success stories from the show…
WATCH: Former Dragon Duncan Bannatyne's proposal details revealed
Reggae Reggae Sauce
Reggae singer and chef Levi Roots appeared on the show in 2007 and pitched the Dragons his spicy Reggae Reggae Sauce. While Duncan Bannatyne dismissed the idea, Levi managed to secure the support of both Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh, who together invested £50,000 for an impressive 40% stake in his business.
Reggae Reggae Sauce can now be found in all major supermarkets
These days, Levi is a published cookbook author and has his own reggae show on BBC Radio 2. You can find his sauces stocked in all major UK supermarkets, and according to Sainsbury's, it even outsells Heinz Tomato Ketchup!
MORE: Dragons Den star shares shocking reason why so many investments fall through
READ: Dragons' Den: How Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and more made their fortunes
Craft Gin Club and Bubble Club
Back in 2016, Jon Hulme and John Burke did what few have done before them and received offers from all five of the Dragons for their idea of a wine and gin subscription service.
The founders of Craft Gin Club appeared on the show in 2016
However, the decision of who to go with was an easy one for the founders after Sarah Willingham revealed she was already a customer! They accepted her offer of £75,000 in exchange for 12.5% share in the business - and business has been booming since.
Husband and wife duo Neil and Laura Westwood entered the den with a winning idea back in 2008.
Magic Whiteboard is now a classroom and office staple
Though Peter Jones thought their invention of a portable whiteboard was "ridiculous", they managed to walk away with a £100,000 investment from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis, the latter of whom put the product into 237 of his Ryman office stationery stores. The product is now a classroom and office staple and sold globally.
Dads turned entrepreneurs Asi Sharabi, David Cadji-Newby, Tal Oron, and Pedro Serapicos wowed the judges in 2014 when they pitched their personalised children's books' business idea.
Wonderbly has sold over two million books worldwide
Originally called Lost My Name, Wonderbly secured a £100,000 investment from Dragon and fellow dad Piers Linney who walked away with a 4% stake in the company. The company has gone on to sell more than two million books worldwide, with Dragon Piers branding it "the most successful business to have ever passed through the Den's walls".
Although at-home self-tanners are nothing new, Kate Cotton and Louise Ferguson got the attention of five dragons when they entered the den with their product Skinny Tan. After revealing that they had made more than £600,000 after just one year, Kelly Hoppen and Piers Linney matched the amount for a 10% stake in the business.
Skinny Tan is another Dragons' Den success story
While the brand was sold for an undisclosed sum in June 2015 to InnovaDerma, both co-founders remain shareholders and Skinny Tan has gone on to make millions all over the world.
Entering the Den with an air of confidence, in 2007 Peter Moule secured a £150,000 investment from Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan after he pitched his simple yet genius invention – the ChocBox.
The ChocBox scored a sales deal of £25million within three months of appearing on Dragons' Den
A plastic case that allows electrical wires to be stored safely and securely, after granting the two Dragons’ a 36% stake between them, ChocBox then scored a sales deal worth £25million . Just three months after he set foot in the Den, the partnership had made Peter a millionaire.
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Seven of the biggest success stories of Dragons’ Den
Levi Roots is among the entrepreneurs who have gone on to find big success after appearing on Dragon's Den
- 13:19, 3 JAN 2023
- Updated 13:29, 23 JAN 2023
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The Dragon's Den is now in its 20th series and has made household names for the dragon investors while launching hundreds of businesses, making millionaires along the way.
The programme has stood the test of time with an ever changing roll call of investors - Peter Jones is the only dragon still in the show from the original line up.
The series last year welcomed its youngest dragon, 28-year-old entrepreneur Steven Bartlett .
You can read our exclusive interview with him here and see what firms he has invested in .
In the meantime, we take a look at some of the programme's biggest success stories using data compiled for the Innovation Investment Index report by money.co.uk.
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Dragons: Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh
Investment amount: £50,000 for an impressive 40% equity in the company
Back in 2007, Reggae singer and chef Levi Roots pitched his spicy Reggae Reggae Sauce to the Dragons’ and successfully managed to secure £50,000 to manufacture his product. In return, Levi Roots was offering 20% of the equity in his business.
The sauce is a secret recipe from Levi's grandmother. He was told there was “no future for this business” by Duncan Bannatyne but Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh saw something else and invested £50,000 for 40% equity in the company.
Reggae Reggae sauces are now stocked in all major UK supermarkets, taking London-based Roots’ worth to an estimated £30 million according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
Peter Jones remains a shareholder and advocate for the brand, claiming “it’s one of my most successful investments from the show”.
Dragons: Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis
Investment amount: £100,000 investment for a 40% share of the company
Founded by Worcester husband-and-wife team Neil and Laura Westwood back in 2006, Magic Whiteboard is basically a roll of A1 whiteboard sheets that will stick on anything thanks to static. It is now stocked in all major office supply stores with a global customer base.
The product is now said to be Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis’ most successful investment with the portable whiteboard achieving impressive growth since appearing on the show.
In September 2014, the Westwood’s bought back their shares from Meaden and Paphitis, giving the investors £800,000 return on their £100,000 investment.
Having increased sales from £45,000 to £1.2 million a year, and consistently delivering healthy profits, the founders decided to ask Theo and Deborah to sell back their shares. Neil and Laura wanted to give their children, Ella and Morley the shares to secure their future.
Dragons: Kelly Hoppen and Piers Linney
Investment amount: £60,000 for a 10% stake in the company
Skinny Tan, a self-tan brand, went from startup to global success after its founders Louise Ferguson and Kate Cotton pitched to the Dragons’ in 2013. It didn’t take long until Skinny Tan became one of the fastest-selling tanning products in the UK.
Launched in Australia in 2012, the brand boasted profits of £600,000 in its first year. After hearing the success after a year, all five Dragons showed interest, with Kelly Hoppen and Piers Linney sealing the deal with an offer of £60,000 for a 10% stake in the company.
The company was sold for an undisclosed sum in June 2015, both co-founders and Hoppen and Linney remain shareholders.
In April 2020, Kate and Louise revealed that they plan to extend to Spain and South Africa next.
Dragon: Piers Linney
Investment amount: £100,000 for a 4% stake in the company
Founded by dads Asi Sharabi, David Cadji-Newby, Tal Oron and Pedro Serapicos in 2012, the creative fiction books for kids were pitched to the dragons back in 2014.
Originally named Lost My Name, Wonderbly creates personalised children's books that feature its readers in the stories. The idea impressed, Piers Linney, who invested the full £100,000 requested for a 4% stake.
The London-based company has gone on to sell more than two million books worldwide with Dragon Piers Linney reporting it as "the most successful business to have ever passed through the Den's walls" in 2015.
More on Dragons' Den
Razzamataz Theatre Schools
Dragon: Duncan Bannatyne
Investment amount: £50,000
Founder Denise Hutton-Gosney pitched her dance schools to the Dragons’ back in 2007. She secured an investment of £50,000 from Duncan Bannatyne.
With the dragon's support, the Cumbria-based company was able to launch all over the UK and abroad.
In 2014, Hutton-Gosney was able to buy back Bannatyne's stake in the company for £70,000 and now owns 90% of the company.
Dragons: Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan
Investment amount: £150,000 in return for a 36% stake in his business
Hertfordshire entrepreneur Peter Moule invented a plastic cable device as a way to store electrical wires safely.
He pitched his idea to the Dragons’ in 2007 and secured the support of Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan who invested £150,000 in return for a 36% stake in his business.
Peter's gadget went on to net £25 million in global sales since first appearing on the show.
In an interview with North East Exclusive magazine in 2013, Bannatyne described Chocbox as one of his best investments from the show.
Investment amount: £100,000 in return for 15% of their company.
Founded in 2011 by Rob Tominey and Aden Levin, Mainstage Festivals offered “once in a lifetime” low-cost clubbing holidays for the 18-24 market.
When Tominey and Levin pitched the Dragons, the business already had revenues of £1.6 million.
The entrepreneurs received multiple bids and accepted Piers Linney’s offer for £100,000 in return for 15% of their company.
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Dragons’ Den’s most successful businesses
- Megan Dunsby
It’s now over 10 years since the first episode of Dragons’ Den aired on British TV screens and in that time we’ve seen some brilliant, and not so brilliant, businesses pass through the Den.
While many of the start-ups which have appeared on the BBC show have since floundered or failed to gain traction, a number have gone on to achieve huge success – with and without the Dragons’ investments.
We’ve delved into the Den archives to find out what has happened to 16 of the brightest businesses to have pitched to the Dragons and where they are now.
From the popular Levi Roots to the £65m-valued Tangle Teezer dubbed “hair-brained” by Peter Jones, click the red button to find out just what happened once the Den’s cameras stopped rolling, and discover a few highlights below…
In this article, we will be covering:
Tangle teezer (£70 million).
- Levi Roots (£30 million)
Wonderbly (£30 million)
Gripit (£14 million), trunki (£12 million), pouch (£10 million).
- Worthenshaw's (£4 million)
Skinny Tan (£2.2 million)
The creation of former hair colourist Shaun Pulfrey, Tangle Teezer – a hair comb with 400 teeth which can glide through wet or dry hair – failed to muster interest in the Den with Pulfrey’s pitch dubbed “hair-brained” and a “waste of time” by the Dragons.
When he appeared on the show, Pulfrey was unable to evidence any sales as he had only began manufacturing the brush, had no deals lined up with distributors, and had inadvertently insulted Meaden’s hair colour; factors which led all five Dragons to negate from investing.
Poor pitching aside , Pulfrey’s plans to take the business UK-wide have been achieved and then some.
Recently valued at a hair-raising £70m , Tangle Teezer now boasts a roster of celebrity fans including Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham, Nicole Scherzinger, Cara Delevingne, and even Princess Kate Middleton, and is now stocked in Boots stores across the country.
Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce (£30 million)
One of the biggest success stories of the Den to date , Levi Roots has become a household name with his popular hot BBQ sauces that tell you to “put some music in your food”.
Having serenaded the Dragons in his pitch with the song that he would later become widely famous for, Roots (real name Keith Graham) won investment from Jones and Farleigh on a “punt” and was told by Duncan Bannatyne that there was “ no future for his business ”. Fast forward eight years and Roots has undoubtedly proved Bannatyne wrong.
Reggae Reggae sauces are now stocked in all the major UK supermarkets and Roots has expanded his range to cover chilled ready meals, pasties and even Caribbean-flavoured soft drinks – taking his worth to an estimated £30m according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
Founded in 2012 by ‘dadpreneurs’ Asi Sharabi, David Cadji-Newby, Tal Oron and Pedro Serapicos, Wonderbly (then known as Lost My Name) took to the Den in 2014 in search of a £100,000 funding boost.
During the pitch, the Dragons were impressed by the rapid growth that the business had experienced so far, having scaled by an eye-watering 2,000% between the October and November of 2013.
But it was tech-lover and fellow father Piers Linney who was won over by the business – so much so that he broke records by investing all of the requested money for just 4% equity ; the best equity deal in the history of Dragons’ Den.
And it seems that this bold move paid off. Known for its beautiful illustrations, fun stories and intricate personalisation, Wonderbly has now sold over two million books in countries all over the world.
GripIt Fixing founder Jordan Daykin made Dragons' Den history when, at 18 years-old, he became the youngest entrepreneur to ever secure investment on the show .
Having created a patented solution for firmly fixing screws into plasterboard with the ability to hold 180kg in weight, Daykin's confident pitch won over Deborah Meaden who invested £80,000 for a 25% equity stake in the business. And her decision to invest was a sensible one.
While still only 20 years-old, Daykin's start-up venture is already profitable and he claims that the business is now worth £14m ; which means Meaden is set to make a good return. In fact, Daykin has gone so far as to say that his business is the Den's “biggest ever success story”.
“ No-one in their right mind would think that business was worth £1m ” – was the comment made by Paphitis following Trunki’s exit from the Den in 2006; an appearance which had seen founder Rob Law fail to win investment from the Dragons.
17 years later, Paphitis’ remark couldn’t be further from the truth.
Widely known to be one of the Den’s most successful ‘rejects’, Law’s sit-on, ride-along children’s suitcases have become a familiar sight at airports all over the world, secured £4m backing from the government-backed Business Growth Fund in 2013, and Trunki, the well-known children's suitcase brand, has recently been sold in a deal thought to be worth over £12 million.
Pouch, a free browser extension launched by Jonny Plein, Ben Corrigan and Vikram Simha in 2016, automatically finds and presents users with the best legitimate discount codes available as they shop online.
“Post- Dragons’ Den filming, we were offered nearly triple the investment amount for an equity amount we felt much more comfortable with, putting Pouch at a deserved multi-million-pound value. ”
Not to mention the PR boost afforded by the episode. After it went live, Pouch gained a whopping 60,000 new users and, as of May 2018, had hit 100,000 downloads .
The breadth of its offering, too, has grown – the extension now shows codes for more than 3,500 retailers, including ASOS, Amazon, Argos, Currys, Debenhams, Gap and John Lewis.
Furthermore, in May 2018 Pouch was rightly recognised as one of the UK’s top 100 most exciting start-ups in our 2018 Startups 100 index .
Worthenshaw’s (£4 million)
Now 29, Worthenshaw’s founder Kirsty Henshaw was the youngest entrepreneur to receive funding from the Dragons when she appeared on the show in 2010 with her range of free-from, frozen ice cream alternatives.
Bannatyne and Jones were keen to take a stake in the business and help the budding female entrepreneur to launch nationally in major supermarkets . However, it would appear that Henshaw was unable to gain the traction needed for the ice cream business and, in July 2012, it was announced that Worthenshaw’s had rebranded to Kirsty’s with a focus on chilled adult-ready meals.
Henshaw's decision to pivot the business appears to have paid off and her gluten-free, dairy-free meals are now stocked in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado and Asda with sales reported to have grown 75% in the last 12 months.
Now valued at £4m, the Kirsty’s brand is rapidly taking off and on her blog Henshaw has commented that “while the business has evolved and moved on from desserts to concentrate on savoury meals, the aim and vision of the company remains unchanged ”.
Any business which boasts profit figures of £600,000 for its first year is always going to turn heads in the Den and Skinny Tan did just that – attracting offers from all five Dragon investors .
Launched in Australia in 2012 by Kate Cotton and Louise Ferguson, Skinny Tan is a naturally-deriving fake tanning lotion which claims to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
With revenues of £1m for 2014 and turnover set to double to £2.2m over the next 12 months , it’s no wonder that Skinny Tan was a winner in the Den.
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What are the most successful businesses from Dragons’ Den?
- Joanne Kavanagh
- Published : 8:14, 20 Jan 2022
- Updated : 10:50, 20 Jan 2022
DRAGONS' Den has offered a platform to thousands of budding businesspeople in the show's 17 year history.
Many have had to face the wrath of the strict judges after a failed pitch, but many have prospered under the wings of the Dragons and their investments.
The most successful businesses from Dragons' Den
Look after my bills.
The co-founders of Look After My Bills left the Dragons in awe and ended up leaving with the best deal in the show's history.
Dragons Jenny Campbell and Tej Lalvani BOTH invested £120,000 for just three per cent of the company.
A form of price comparison site, Look After My Bills actually does a lot of the work for you.
Customers simply sign up just once, before the service finds you a great deal every year.
If a better deal presents itself, Look After My Bills will switch you to it - all for FREE.
Since first appearing on the show, The company has gained 200,000+ members and was purchased by GoCompare in the summer of 2019.
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Reggae reggae sauce.
Levi Roots has gone a long to way to making Duncan Bannatyne's quip that there was "no future for this business" look foolish since first appearing on the show.
While Bannatyne was less than impressed, Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh were optimistic and invested £50,000 for a staggering 40 per cent equity in the company.
Roots' Reggae Reggae Sauces are now stocked in all major UK supermarkets, with an estimated net worth of £32million in 2022.
Jones once described his decision as "one of my most successful investments from the show" and remains a brand shareholder.
A left-field idea, portable whiteboard in a roll has proved to be a huge success.
Dragons Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis most successful investment, Magic Whiteboard was founded by husband-and-wife Neil and Laura Westwood.
The stationary equipment is currently stocked in all major office supply stores with a customer base all over the world.
In September 2014, the Westwood’s bought back Meaden and Paphitis' shares, providing the Dragons' with an £800,000 return on their £100,000 investment.
Skin-care company Skinny Tan launched in 2012 and recorded incredible profits of £600,000 in its first year.
Co-founders Kate Cotton and Louise Ferguson certainly caught the attention of the Dragons with those kinds of figures, so much so that all five of the Dragons showed interest before Kelly Hoppen and Piers Linney made the successful offer of £60,000 for a 10% stake in the company.
Skinny Tan was sold for an undisclosed sum in June 2015, but both co-founders as well as Hoppen and Linney remain shareholders.
Mainstage Festivals pride themselves on offering “once in a lifetime” low-cost clubbing holidays for the 18-24 market.
Founded in 2011, when creators Rob Tominey and Aden Levin pitched the Dragons Mainstage Festivals, the company already had revenues of £1.6 million.
The duo received multiple bids before accepting Piers Linney’s offer of £100,000 in return for 15 per cent of their company.
Created by Peter Moule, the Chocbox is an aplastic cable device that allows you to store electrical wires safely.
Pitched back in 2007, dragons Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan invested £150,000 with a 36% stake.
Three months after the pitch the product made its first million and has since made over £25million in global sales and ships to 152 countries.
The Trunki is a ride-on hand luggage suitcase for children that although didn't receive investment has become a multi-million business.
Created by Rob Law the children's trunk was turned down after Theo Paphitis broke a strap of the suitcase leading to Dragons questioning the quality.
However, Theo has since regretted the remarks as Trunki is the most successful product never to be invested by the Dragons, making revenue of £8.13 million.
When is Dragon's Den series 19 on TV and how can I watch it?
Dragons' Den season 19 continues TONIGHT (January 20, 2022), on BBC One at 8pm.
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As the leaders in the field of helping individual inventors and with our unique range of services and experience Innovate’s team can help you prepare for the Dragons. Our services provide a range encompassing background patent searching, full design services and visualisation work, as well as physical prototyping. We also provide integrated Intellectual Property and marketing advice and support. Request a Free Info Pack for further advice.
Over the years we have helped a number of clients successfully prepare for the show. As a commercial firm, we are not associated in any way with the BBC , and we can act in your best interests alone.
“We have first-hand knowledge of our clients’ experiences in the Den; which puts us in a unique position to help you prepare.”
The show offers an excellent opportunity for inventors and entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom who are keen to follow in the footsteps of Levi Roots and Kirsty Henshaw.
Innovate will be looking forward to seeing the next generation of entrepreneurs and inventors pitting their wits against this new team of ferocious Dragons!
At Innovate we are always supporting inventors and new ideas so why not Request one of our free information packs and take your first steps towards the Den!
Innovate’s latest Clients Chris and Kathryn Baldrey-Chourio – Nana’s Manners to secure £50,000 investment on Dragons’ Den
Innovate Client Kate Castle, BoginaBag, advises you on succeeding in the Den
Kate Castle used our services, and in 2011 made her Den pitch: a lightweight and portable camping toilet, which Innovate helped her design. A strong, confident pitch convinced Dragon Theo Paphitis to invest £50,000 in her business. The BoginaBag brand is now thriving with Theo’s support and is now on sale across the world.
“It is a big risk to go on Dragons’ Den and absolutely terrifying, but if you have a product you believe in and a business plan that can withhold some pretty tough scrutiny then the rewards are fantastic.”
Kate’s has the following top tips for the presentation itself:
- Be honest and confident in what you say for a successful application.
- In preparation for the Den do your research. I watched hours of episodes and took notes on where people succeeded and where they failed.
- You are only allowed to take the product and nothing else into the Dragons’ Den. They ask for lots of detailed paperwork but you can’t take any in.
- You need to appear confident without being arrogant.
- Remember they want to make an investment; there are no trick questions they just want people to demonstrate that they can make a business work.
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Dragons’ Den success stories: Latest update from Bog-in-a-Bag
“It is two years since I entered Dragons Den with my product BoginaBag and things have really moved on. Going on Dragons Den not only gives you an opportunity to gain the advice of a “Dragon” but you also gain a huge amount of publicity. There is a real peak after the show is aired and orders went through the roof. 2012 was a tough year for us though and with a terrible Summer, some key customers going under and a natural dip in press coverage, we struggled. It was however with the guidance of Theo and his team and the determination to move to the next level that I prepared for 2013. Deciding that I needed more products to grow the brand, an umbrella brand called Gear to Go was created. This has enabled the launch of new products and the first of these was a foldable water bottle that is now available in all Robert Dyas stores. There are also a number of new lines coming for 2014.
It isn’t just about the new products though and with a new German and Australian distributor coming on board with BoginaBag in early 2013 and a huge increase in customer awareness about the product, June 2013 saw our strongest ever sales. It is after all a product that really needs word of mouth to sell and that seems to have really happened this Summer. So with a new office, revamped website and a renewed excitement for growth, 2014 looks set to be an even bigger year for both Boginabag and Gear to Go.”
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The Dragons' Den rejects who had the last laugh: From BrewDog millionaire to wheelie-suitcase inventor... the entrepreneurs who made a fortune despite being told the dreaded words 'I'm Out'
- Dragons Den enjoy success from investing in products discovered on the show
- But there are countless products they've snickered at with huge success
- Here, MailOnline looks at some of the best businesses rejected by the show
By Brittany Chain
Published: 04:41 EDT, 12 February 2023 | Updated: 10:46 EDT, 13 February 2023
While the millionaires from BBC 's hit Dragons Den have enjoyed plenty of success from investing in products discovered on the show, there are also many missed opportunities.
Sometimes, they laugh hopefuls right out of the door who go on to find huge global success with their ideas.
BrewDog founder James Watt has great relationships with several of the show's millionaire investors , but said the programme as a whole has a 'barely disguised distaste for entrepreneurs' and has made a business of making hopefuls appear as 'deluded fantasists' in the public eye.
Here, MailOnline looks at some of the biggest success stories the Dragons have rejected over the years.
While the millionaires from BBC's hit Dragons Den have enjoyed plenty of success from investing in products discovered on the show, there are also many missed opportunities
Trunki - children's suitcase boss made £7M fortune
Amid news the founder of ride-on children's suitcase brand Trunki is set to pocket £7million in personal profit , after selling his business for a cool £12million, he told MailOnline: 'I wasn't sure I'd sell very many after the episode came out.'
Rob Law, 45, from Bath, was told his idea for Trunki - ride-on suitcases for children - was 'worthless' by entrepreneur Peter Jones when he appeared on the BBC programme in 2006.
His product was advertised in promotional content for the show as 'wheelie rubbish', and yet within hours of broadcast, he'd sold out online.
Mr Law went on to secure £200,000 of funding for a 10 per cent stake within two years of appearing on the show.
Rob Law, 45, from Bath, was told his idea for Trunki - ride-on suitcases for children - was 'worthless' by entrepreneur Peter Jones when he appeared on the BBC programme in 2006
Now, more than a decade on, he's now sold the brand's holding company, Magmatic, to e-commerce company Heroes, for an estimated £12m, and is expected to get £7million from the sale, having retained 60 per cent of the ownership of the business.
He said: 'If you're going on a show you've got to go in with your eyes wide open, they want to make theatrical television.
'You run a risk of things going pear shaped but any publicity is good publicity.'
While he's sold his stake, Mr Law and the majority of his team will stay on under new management.
'It's about the journey, not the destination. And we're still on this journey.'
His product was advertised in promotional content for the show as 'wheelie rubbish', and yet within hours of broadcast, he'd sold out online
BrewDog - brewery business is now worth £1.8BN
When the boys behind BrewDog, James Watt and Martin Dickie, applied for the show in 2009, they were seeking a £100,000 investment for 20 per cent of their business.
They were turned down, but went on to find enormous success anyway, and the business is now worth upwards of £1.8billion . If one of the Dragons had invested the asking amount, they would have seen returns in the ballpark of about £360 million.
They've since gone on to build strong relationships with some of the Dragons, who were each disappointed in the missed opportunity to work together.
'Overall, they make some good decisions and some questionable ones,' Mr Watt told MailOnline. 'It's very hard to judge a business in five minutes, which is what you get to pitch.'
When the boys behind BrewDog, James Watt and Martin Dickie, applied for the show in 2009, they were seeking a £100,000 investment for 20 per cent of their business
Mr Watt described it as a 'stroke of luck' that they didn't sell 20 per cent of their business at the time, and had in the past expressed disappointment in the entire process of seeking investors.
He said: 'In the US, people who take risks and create jobs are celebrated; in the UK the best they can expect is to be tolerated. We are far from alone in this regard.
'The BBC in particular has a barely disguised distaste for entrepreneurs (the whole purpose of Dragons Den, for example, is to present entrepreneurs as deluded fantasists. The same is true of The Apprentice).'
If one of the Dragons had invested the asking amount, they would have seen returns in the ballpark of about £360 million
Oppo ice cream - 'guilt free' treat sells out on Ocado
Brothers Harry and Charlie Thuillier pitched their low-calorie, 'guilt free' ice cream range to the Dragons in 2016, hoping to secure £60,000 in exchange for seven per cent of their business.
They left empty handed, with the experts stating the reward simply wouldn't justify the risk.
Now, Richard Branson and Andy Murray are among their investors and the brand is worth an estimated £85.7 million.
Speaking to MailOnline, the duo said their time on the show effectively served as a 10 minute advertisement for the brand, even though they ultimately walked away empty-handed.
'We were trending as the sixteenth most searched term on Google UK for the whole weekend after the episode aired,' Harry said.
'We sold out in Waitrose, on Ocado - the only two places we were stocked at that time, and it gave us a great bump in sales and awareness.'
Harry and Charlie Thuillier's brand is worth an estimated £85.7 million
They stock an array of flavours - including double salted caramel, double chocolate brownie, chocolate chip cookie dough and strawberry cheesecake - and are available in 13 countries
They now stock an array of flavours - including double salted caramel, double chocolate brownie, chocolate chip cookie dough and strawberry cheesecake - and are available in 13 countries.
In total, it took more than 1,000 attempts to get the flavour and consistency just right before they ventured into the Den.
By that point, they'd already secured a good amount of investment, and only went on the programme at the behest of the BBC, who they had reportedly already turned down three times to appear.
Offering a word of warning to any future hopefuls, Harry said: 'Dragon’s Den is more combative than your typical investment conversation. It’s also first and foremost about entertainment.
'So while it’s not anything like a normal investment conversation our advice to entrepreneurs considering going on is the same as any investor you want to approach. Make sure you know who you’re speaking to, be very realistic with any numbers you share and have the evidence to back them up, show your passion and your knowledge of the market and your product.'
Brothers Harry and Charlie Thuillier pitched their low-calorie, 'guilt free' ice cream range to the Dragons in 2016, hoping to secure £60,000 in exchange for seven per cent of their business
Approved Food - described as 'the ones that got away'
When Andy Needham and Dan Cluderay appeared in the Den in 2015, they knew they had a winning idea. They were searching for £150,000 for 10 per cent equity in their business selling out-of-date food for ridiculously cheap prices.
They would purchase stock wholesale and sell it for up to 70 per cent cheaper than major supermarkets, but it wasn't enough to lure in any of the Dragons.
Now, they've got an annual turnover of £22.5 million and are frequently described as the 'ones that got away'.
And with the current cost of living crisis in the UK, their idea is undoubtedly going to continue bouncing from strength to strength.
They've got an annual turnover of £22.5 million and are frequently described as the 'ones that got away'
When Andy Needham and Dan Cluderay appeared in the Den in 2015, they knew they had a winning idea. They were searching for £150,000 for 10 per cent equity in their business selling out-of-date food for ridiculously cheap prices
Hungry House - food delivery firm worth up to £1.1BN
Co-founders Shane Lake and Tony Charles entered the Den in 2007 - a year after founding the food delivery service. They were hoping to take home £100,000 in exchange for 11 per cent equity.
Peter Jones, who is worth an estimated £1.1billion, told the duo there was 'no value' in the idea.
While Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan offered the £100,000, the deal later collapsed when Mr Lake and Mr Charles secured a higher investment from elsewhere.
Over the span of the next decade, the brand became a household name in the UK, and in 2018 merged with competitor JustEat. The business was acquired for £200million.
Co-founders Shane Lake and Tony Charles entered the Den in 2007 - a year after founding the food delivery service. They were hoping to take home £100,000 in exchange for 11 per cent equity
Over the span of the next decade, the brand became a household name in the UK, and in 2018 merged with competitor JustEat. The business was acquired for £200million
Grillstream - now one of UK's biggest BBQ brands
Engineers Ian Worton and Peter Neath arrived in the Den in 2009 with their barbecue tray, which was designed to prevent oil and fat spillage.
The duo came close to striking a deal but didn't quite get it over the line. The show ultimately proved to still help them, receiving an influx of offers after it aired.
Grillstream is one of the largest BBQ brands to come out of the UK and is stocked in most major retailers, garden centres and dedicated stockists across the nation.
The duo previously told Metro: 'They're smart geezers that made their money. They know what they can't invest in everything, every time.
'The fact that we almost got a deal but didn't, that gave us the opportunity with LeisureGrow and the drive to move forward. That's helped us big time.'
Engineers Ian Worton and Peter Neath arrived in the Den in 2009 with their barbecue tray, which was designed to prevent oil and fat spillage
Grillstream is one of the largest BBQ brands to come out of the UK and is stocked in most major retailers, garden centres and dedicated stockists across the nation
Cup-a-Wine - popular picnic drink on sale in M&S
James Nash appeared on the program in 2009 seeking £250,000 in exchange for a 25 per cent stake in his business.
The idea was a single-serve plastic glass of wine with a tear-off lid.
Duncan Bannatyne was particularly dismissive, saying: 'You didn't invent the plastic glass. And you didn't make the wine. So what have you got?'
'People don't want to buy wine in plastic glasses like that with a seal on top. For that reason, I'm out.'
But M&S were a fan of the concept and adopted it as part of its Food on the Move section. It has proved hugely popular with commuters and picnicers.
The idea was a single-serve plastic glass of wine with a tear-off lid
James Nash appeared on the program in 2009 seeking £250,000 in exchange for a 25 per cent stake in his business
Tangle Teezer - brush brand boss nets £70M from sale
When entrepreneur and former hairdresser Shaun Pulfrey entered the Den in 2007, he was seeking £80,000 in exchange for 15 per cent of his business.
The idea was simple: a quick and easy way of detangling hair without pulling and damaging, which could even be used on wet hair.
Not a single Dragon was interested. One called the scheme 'hair-brained', while another said it was a 'waste of time' and a third likened the product to a 'horse brush'.
Unfazed, Mr Pulfrey went on to launch the product and, in the process, found a host of celebrity fans.
In 2021, he sold a majority stake in the brand for £70million - making him even richer than at least one of the Dragon's, Deborah Meaden, who rejected him.
The idea was simple: a quick and easy way of detangling hair without pulling and damaging, which could even be used on wet hair
When entrepreneur and former hairdresser Shaun Pulfrey entered the Den in 2007, he was seeking £80,000 in exchange for 15 per cent of his business
Destination London - travel firm boss now worth £96M
When Rachel Lowe entered the Den in 2004, she was asking for £75,000 for a 30 per cent stake in her business.
The Dragons laughed her out of the room, citing her inexperience and pointing out that she was trying to enter an extremely competitive market.
As a taxi driver, she thought up her board game business, Destination London.
While she left the program empty handed, the board game was hugely successful and she now has over 30 varieties of her games - as well as earning herself an MBE for her services to business.
Ms Lowe's net worth is estimated to be £96 million now.
When Rachel Lowe entered the Den in 2004, she was asking for £75,000 for a 30 per cent stake in her business
Ms Lowe's net worth is estimated to be £96 million now
Aquatina - collapsable water bottle firm worth £5M
When Guy Jeremiah finished his pitch to the Dragons in 2010, he was feeling pretty good about the idea. He was seeking £100,000 in return for 10 per cent equity in his collapsible and reusable water bottle design.
Theo Paphitis told him he'd rather stick pins in his eyes than back his idea, and all the Dragons ended up following his lead in backing out.
Duncan Bannatyne was enraged by the idea, tossing the water bottle across the room, labelling it a 'waste of time' and saying: 'It's a terrible invention, I'm sorry, that's really made me angry.'
Within two years, the design was available in 16 countries and had signed a distribution deal with Marks & Spencer.
The company is now worth an estimated £5million.
Theo Paphitis told him he'd rather stick pins in his eyes than back his idea, and all the Dragons ended up following his lead in backing out
The company is now worth an estimated £5million
When Guy Jeremiah finished his pitch to the Dragons in 2010, he was feeling pretty good about the idea. He was seeking £100,000 in return for 10 per cent equity in his collapsible and reusable water bottle design
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5 Successful Products that Didn't Get Investment on Dragon's Den
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Who doesn't love a bit of Dragon's Den? The BBC 2 program, which in its latest series reached a peaque of 2.94m viewers, has been airing since 2005, and during that time around 191 products and ideas got investment from the Dragons. However, more than double that amount of entrepreneurs failed inside the Den.
Here are some of the most remarkable success stories of products that didn't secure an investment from the Dragons, but that didn't stop these entrepreneurs from making a success out of their ideas and growing them into multi-milion pound businesses.
The Dragons turned down the possibility of an £80,000 investment in this hair comb with 400 teeth that can glide through wet or dry hair and that was deemed as “hair-brained” and a “waste of time” by the Dragons.
Shaun Pulfrey, a former hair colour technician and the inventor of the Tangle Teezer, had then only began manufacturing the brush, had no deals lined up with distributors, and had inadvertently insulted Deborah Meaden’s hair colour. Well, let's say the pitch didn't go very well, and Pulfrey heard the sentence "I'm out" repeated 5 times to him.
In the ten months following the rejection, the Tangle Teezer turned over £800,000, and a profit of £200,000. The product then landed a lucrative deal with Boots Pharmacy, and has continued to go from strength to strength,to the point that it can now be found in the handbags of Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss and even the Royal family.
The first time the Trunki appeared on TV during Dragon's Den it got broken by Theo Paphitis and rejected by all the Dragons. Fast-forward a few years to 2011, a full 20% of British three to six year olds owned a Trunki , and in 2013 its inventor, Rob Law, secured a £4m backing from the government-backed Business Growth Fund, and has totted up product sales of over two million and counting.
And that's not all, Since appearing on the show, Trunki has won over 100 design awards, Law has been granted an MBE, and the Trunki brand has been extended to include other products too.
Law’s business has also become a ‘Made in Britain’ success story with its own factory in Devon, which manufactures the suitcases and recycles them, giving employment to over 60 staff.
Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones have both admitted that they regret not investing in Trunki. Well, why am I not surprised?
John Richardson presented the Natox, a natural alternative to botox, during an episode of Dragon's Den back in 2011, but the product was completely crushed by the Dragons.
Less than a year later, Richardson had shifted 34,000 bottles his Natox, generating a turnover of £3 million. His product appeared in London’s prestigious Selfridges department store, and is now on shelves in 15 different countries around the world. In an interview with The Mirror, he stated that ‘The Dragons said no, but the world is saying yes. If they tried calling me, I’m afraid I’d have to say, ‘I’m out’.
Destination Board Game
During her time as a student, Rachael Lowe was forced to take on a job as a taxi driver to support her two children, and it was during one of her shifts that she came up with the idea for the Destination board game.
But when Lowe took her game to the Den, she was looking for an investment of £75,000, she was torn apart by the Dragons, who laughed at her lack of knowledge of the difference between gross and net profit. Despite the Dragons’ claim that she would be ‘ eaten alive in business’ Lowe’s board game went on to become the best selling game at London’s Hamleys, with further games created in partnership with Walt Disney and Warner Brothers.
Hungry House's founders Shane Lake and Tony Charles were actually offered £100,000 for 50% equity from Dragons Caan and Bannatyne, but after the show, the offer was withdrawn by Caan and the deal fell through.
Lake and Charles didn’t let this rejection set them back and they went on and raised £150,000 from alternative business angels, which enabled them to increase their restaurant partners from 150 in 2007 to over 2,500 in September 2010.
In February 2013, the company was acquired by Berlin-based competitor Delivery Hero and the business has continued to scale with over 9,000 restaurant platforms now signed to its platform in most major cities across the UK.
The conclusion of this is simple. Never let someone crush your dreams. If you have got an idea, and you really, truly believe in it, you shouldn't let anything stop you from making it into a reality.
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