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Dragons’ Den’s Success Stories

dragons' den success stories

Dragon’s Den is a popular reality TV show in Britain, it invites budding entrepreneurs into the Den where they meet with a group of thriving venture capitalists and pitch their ideas for new products and businesses; the Dragon’s then choose if they want to invest in an entrepreneur.

The show is entertaining, but it’s much more than that. Thanks to the process of pitching and negotiating in the Den, viewers are given a glimpse into the opportunities and development of products at various stages, and what it takes for investors to see the value of the product.

Over the years, Dragon ‘s Den has launched many successful products and created new success stories along the way; in this article we take a look at some of these success stories and what happened to the creators’ after leaving the show. Some thrived while others failed.

1. Reggae Reggae Sauce

Levi Roots arrived in the Den in 2007, a musician and cook pitching an idea for a caribbean-inspired condiment called Reggae Reggae sauce. The recipe for the sauce came from his grandmother, it’s a spicy BBQ sauce with many applications. Despite being shot down by Duncan Bannatyne, Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh saw the product’s value.

Following some negotiation, Levi Roots secured an investment from the pair, he received £50,000 for a 40% stake in the business and was then able to take the sauce to market. It turns out the investment was a smart move by the Dragon’s and quickly became popular in the UK thanks to its combination of Carribean spice and BBQ flavours which set it apart.

Reggae Reggae sauce proved to be the launchpad for Levi Roots career, as well as founding the popular alternative condiment, he has expanded his empire to include cookbooks, a cooking show, an album, and a Caribbean-inspired food festival. As well as being his passion, these new ventures have allowed Levi Roots to showcase his talent.

Levi Roots didn’t stop at Reggae Reggae sauce either, he used his new found platform to launch a range of other products such as his Levi Roots Jamaican-inspired ready meals sold in majorUK supermarkets, and he’s appeared on popular cooking shows, such as ‘Sunday Brunch’ and ‘Celebrity Masterchef’. It’s estimated that Levi Roots is now worth £30 million.

2. Chocbox

Chocbox is another Dragon’s Den success story, a practical and innovative product designed to store electrical wires safely. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and we all know the trouble and dangers exposed wires can cause. Entrepreneur Peter Moule solved the dilemma with a patented plastic box that contains screw connector strips to secure wires.

Confident and prepared, Peter Moule made an impression on most of the Dragon’s and eventually secured an investment of £150,000 from Duncan Bannatyne and Jame Caan giving up a 36% stake in his business. Following the pitch, after just three months, the Chocbox sold one million units; it’s clear the Dragon’s see good investment opportunities.

A simple but necessary product, the Chocbox was an instant success and went on to earn £25 million in global sales shipping to 152 countries around the world. From professional electricians to DIY homeowners, the Chocbox provides a practical solution to common wiring complaints, and it helps the product is well designed and patented thanks to Peter Moule.

3. Trunki

Not every product pitch in the Dragon’s Den receives a deal, but that doesn’t mean the entrepreneur can’t go on to be successful, as we will see from the story of Rob Law and his Trunki product. Rob arrived in the Den in 2006 pitching a product he spent years developing, it is innovative ride-on hand luggage for children, that’s colourful, practical, and sizable.

Trunki might have gone on to capture the imaginations of parents and children worldwide, but it was hard sell to the Dragons on the Den in 2006. Initially there was some interest from them, especially since Rob invented the idea while he was studying product design at university and maintained his interest in it, but the deal ultimately fell through due to quality.

After leaving the Den without a deal, Rob Law decided to go it alone and launched the product by himself: Trunki was an instant hit with parents and children who loved the colourful designs and overall concept. Trunki sold 3.5 million units shortly after its launch and stands as one of the most successful products from the Den that failed to receive funding.

The story of Trunki is ultimately one of success and determination in the face of doubts, but it wasn’t all plain sailing. Had Rob Law secured a deal from the Dragons he would most likely have avoided some early issues with the company finances; still, the company expanded to include backpacks, neck pillows and travel blankets, and was sold for £12 million in 2023.

4. Magic Whiteboard

Where is a whiteboard when you need one? Especially if you are a teacher using someone else’s classroom, a business person pitching in a client’s office, or a creative person who needs to communicate or brainstorm ideas in a pinch. Introducing the Magic Whiteboard which first entered the Dragon’s Den in 2008 and has gone onto to find amazing success.

The Magic Whiteboard was brought to the Den by husband and wife team Neil and Laura Westwood. Their pitch on the show was successful and they received offers from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis–£100,000 for a 40% stake in the company, which proved to be an insightful investment from the Dragons who received eight times that amount in return.

Magic Whiteboard is a simple but innovative concept, it’s simply a portable whiteboard that is trimmed from a roll and stuck to a wall–a standard roll contains around 25 sheets which can be used by teachers and business professionals for one-off events, or as a longer term solution. Magic Whiteboard is versatile and portable, allowing you to take notes on the go.

In 2014, the westwoods’ decided to buy back their shares from Meaden and Paphitis for a whopping £800,000 giving the investors back eight times their initial outlay–which is a huge testament to the success of the business and its growth potential. Magic Whiteboard is now an established product and is sold in stores such as Ryman, Sainsbury’s and Viking Direct.

5. Skinny Tan

Everybody wants to look their best, but there’s no need to jet off to the sunshine when you have Skinny Tan. The brand arrived in the Dragon’s Den in 2013 and secured an investment from Kelly Hoppen and Piers Linney, who invested £60,000 in the product. It was first launched in Australia by Kate Cotton and Louise Ferguson and became an instant success.

Skinny Tan is a naturally-derived fake tanning lotion, it uses a blend of natural ingredients such as oils and natural tanning agents to deliver an industry-leading fake tan without the chemicals. Skinny Tan’s focus on a natural and healthy approach to tanning has proven compatible with a changing marketplace that places more value on a product’s ingredients.

The investment from Hoppen and Linney helped the product to scale to new heights and achieve a turnover of £2.2 million thanks to its traction in the UK and worldwide. Skinny Tan is now available in leading retailers such as Superdrug, Boots, and Feel Unique, as well as online; there’s no doubt that Skinny Tan was a huge hit with the Dragon’s and consumers

6. GripIt

If you’re a DIY enthusiast then you know the trouble plasterboard can cause, the crumply material isn’t always the best foundations for fixing screws for home appliances, but that’s where GripIt comes in. The Dragon’s saw the potential of the innovative DIT product when Jordan Daykin, then only 18 years old, brought his invention to the Dragon’s Den in 2014.

Jordan was on the show seeking an £80,000 investment from the Dragon’s in exchange for a 10% stake in the company–tight margins which showed the confidence he had in his product. He demonstrated the product showing how it could provide additional reinforcement when hanging objects on plasterboard, as well as how it could benefit general DIY folk.

GripIt is a versatile and easy-to-use fixing for the home, which is perhaps the secret to its quick success. The fixing can support a wide range of items such as TVs, mirrors, and shelves, offering reliability and strength. GripIt has two wings at the back which open when screwed creating a secure bind to the plasterboard, much better than conventional plugs.

Initially sceptical, it was Jordan’s passion and belief in the product that finally won the heart and the money of Deborah Meaden, who decided to invest for a stake in the company and helped to launch the product. Since its launch, GripIt has been a resounding success and

has sold over 20 million units in the UK alone. It’s not just Deborah who can see its potential.

7. Wonderbly

What if you read a book and discovered that you were also part of the story? This is the experience that Wonderbly offers to children thanks to their bespoke designed books. In 2014, the company appeared on Dragon’s Den and spent a gruelling hour with them attempting to reach a deal. Eventually they secured a £100,000 investment to help scale.

Following the pitch, Wonderbly, known at that time as Lost My Name shook hands with Piers Linney and began their journey to large-scale success. Personalised storybooks for children are not only entertaining and bring joy to childhood, but they are also a keepsake, something which children can hold onto throughout their lives and hand down to their children one day.

Since the pitch, Wonderbly has achieved amazing success selling over 2 million books worldwide. The success is not only in the concept, a customised storybook which incorporates a child’s name, interests, and personality, but the investment and vision for the company were also key–not to mention the hard graft that built the company’s foundations.

The commercial success of Wonderbly has caught the eye of others and the company is now involved in an exciting project with the Roald Dahl Estate. These innovative books are special and cannot be purchased on the high street or in major online bookshops such as Amazon, instead, they must be ordered and brought exclusively on the Wonderbly website.

8. Bio-D

In the last decade the world has become increasingly eco-conscious due in large part to the noticeable weather changes and environmental pressures, this has led to more eco-conscious products hitting the market, and Bio-D has benefited from the trend. Founded in 1988 by Lloyd Atkin and his wife, the company appeared on Dragon’s Den back in 2007.

Bio-D is a company that has stayed true to its values through the years and is dedicated to improving the planet by eliminating chemicals from common household products. In 2007, the company arrived in the Den looking for an investment of £50,000 for a 10% stake in the company. In 2007, the Dragon’s were sceptical about such an offering, but were won over.

While the Dragons were on-board with the core ethics of the company–products free from animal testing and chemicals–they were unsure about its possibility for expansion. While Lloyd did not secure what he was looking for in the Den as he refused to waver on the company’s core values, he continued to grow the business and later found his success.

In the end, the reason the company failed in the Den was the reason for its success in the world–it was its commitment to quality and transparency that resonated with the consumers. In 2017 the company continued to thrive and reported a turnover of £2 million. There are plenty of lessons to take from this story including the determination to stick with core values.

9. Mainstage Festivals

It’s summer and you’re 18-24 years old, what better time to go on a clubbing holiday and create memories that last a lifetime. This is the brainchild of Rob Tominey and Aden Levin when they founded Mainstage Festivals in 2011. The company’s big idea was to offer “once in a lifetime” clubbing experiences to young people so they can enjoy budget party holidays.

By the time the entrepreneurs reached the Dragon’s Den they were already a resounding success story boasting impressive revenues of £1.6 million with an excellent potential for growth. More than one Dragon was interested in the business and the entrepreneurs had a range of offers helping them to negotiate stakes, they settled on £100,000 from Piers Linney.

Having only given up 15% of an already successful business, Mainstage Festivals secured the funding from Linney to move onto greater things. In the years that followed, the pitch and backing appears to have paid off with the company boasting record profits and receiving positive feedback from young clubbers. When it’s time to grow, strike when the iron is hot.

10. Razzamataz Theatre Schools

Some Dragons are interested in DIY while others have a sustainable angle, but back in 2007 Duncan Bannatyne had an eye for the arts. Razzamataz Theatre Schools franchise arrived in the Den in 2007 and pitched their singing, dancing, and acting schools for children to the Dragons. The company, founded by Denise Hutton-Gosney, was attempting an expansion.

Following some negotiation in the Den, Razzamata secured a £50,000 investment from Duncan Bannatyne which allowed her to grow the franchise in the UK and beyond. The theatre school has gained a reputation for offering high-quality training for children as well as performance opportunities giving them a taste of the theatre in action–a resounding success.

The company has achieved such amazing success over the years that in 2014 Hutton-Gosney reclaimed her full stake in the company when she bought-out Duncan Bannatyne for £70,000 and now owns 90% of the business. Today, the company continues to thrive contributing to the artistic development, ny nurturing their performance skills.

Final Thoughts

Dragon’s Den is a reality TV show with a focus on entertainment, but it has also launched the careers of many entrepreneurs and provided inspiration for businesses throughout the UK. On this platform, budding entrepreneurs find out what it’s like inside a real board room.

It’s worth reflecting on the success stories hatched in the Dragon’s Den because they can inform us about what it takes to succeed in the world of business and entrepreneurship. Sometimes it’s a lucky trend, other times core values, but overall, it’s about those tough guts.

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