Dragons’ Den UK (BBC) is the gift that just keeps going. With a staggering 16 series [seasons] since 2005, there has been an enormous number of high-profile investments that have gone on to become household brands that we know and love today – but which were the most successful?
To answer this question, the experts at Affise have compiled a list of the most lucrative deals made in the depths of the den and the ones that got turned down, but managed to pave the way for themselves nonetheless.
Sam O’Brien, Chief Marketing Officer at Affise, shared his thoughts:
“It is no surprise that Dragons’ Den continues to have young entrepreneurs flocking through its doors, despite the notoriously intimidating questions that seem to follow each pitch.
“It is a truth commonly acknowledged that some investments have been far more successful than others, with huge brands on the shelves of many shops that initially started out in the den – with very few people being aware of it.
“On the other hand, there are also many successful businesses that were actually turned down by the Dragons, that have gone on to be more triumphant than Deborah Meaden or Theo Paphitis could ever have imagined. An initial TV promotion is always going to be helpful for people building new brands, which is why television shows such as Dragons Den continue to be so important.”
The hair care giant Tangle Teezer is probably one of the most notorious deals that the Dragons turned down in 2007.
Shaun Pulfrey, the founder of the brand, asked for £80,000 in return for 15% of his then blossoming business – but none of the millionaire moguls were interested.
In a move that must sting the Dragons to this day, the entrepreneur sold most of his Tangle Teezer shares in 2021 and is now worth a whopping £70 million.
A company that got under the Dragons’ skin was Skinny Tan, which took to the pitching room in 2013.
Founders Louise Ferguson and Kate Cotton highlighted that their tanning formula was not only made from natural ingredients, but could also reduce the appearance of cellulite – hence its controversial title.
The entrepreneurs asked for a £60k investment for 10% of their company, and the Dragons accepted. The brand now turns over several million pounds a year, as skincare giant InnovaDerm purchased 80% of the founders’ shares.
Craft Gin Club and Bubble Club
Next up came lovers of all things boozy, Craft Gin Club. Founders Jon Hulme and John Burke pitched the idea to the Dragons in 2016, asking for £75,000 in return for 12.5% of their brand.
Sarah Willingham, CEO of Nightcap PLC, admitted that she already had a subscription with the company – which led her to put her faith in Craft Gin Club and invest.
It was revealed that the business now has over 110,000 loyal members, along with 174,000 followers on Instagram.
Another lucrative investment that took the Den by storm was Wonderbly, a personalized book company.
Revenue is said to be over £30 million in 2022, which was kick-started when founders Asi Sharabi, Tal Oron, Pedro Serapicos and David Cadji-Newby accepted a £100,000 investment for just 4% of the company.
It has been rumoured to be one of the most successful brands to appear on the show, and boasts an impressive 300,000 followers on Instagram.
Reggae Reggae Sauce
A spicy addition to the show was beloved hot sauce creator Levi Roots, who created the tantalizing Reggae Reggae Sauce.
Pitched in 2007, Levi was initially overlooked by the skeptical Duncan Bannatyne – but managed to secure a very impressive £50,000 investment, allowing him to propel his business into the future.
Dragons Richard Farleigh and Peter Jones bagged a whopping 40% of the business, and it is now worth £32.7, regularly partnering with Subway and Domino’s.
Finally, we have the top ever brand to come out of the Den: Magic Whiteboard. Pitched by couple Laura and Neil Westwood in 2006, the brand instantly grabbed the attention of the Dragons with its fool-proof simplicity.
The idea consisted of a whiteboard sheet that could be stuck to essentially any surface, avoiding the need for a genuine whiteboard being nailed to the wall.
Despite being shunned by Peter Jones, the founders secured a £100,000 investment with Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden. The product is now sold worldwide in Ryman stores – proving Peter Jones wrong once and for all.
Contributed by Affise.com
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