“The build-up to the programme was just as useful to us as appearing on national television,” says Westwood, who bought the distribution rights for the Magic Whiteboard two years ago and appeared on the programme in the hope of securing £100k for a 15 per cent share in the business. Their product allows you to create a portable whiteboard from a roll in seconds. Westwood describes it as a “reusable and erasable alternative to a flip chart”.
“We had to fill out a lengthy application form for the show. Next, we had a telephone interview. Then there was a screen test in Manchester with the producers and researchers, followed by an exit interview. How can you mess up your figures on air after that?”
Westwood says they spent a gruelling two hours in the Den (viewers saw four minutes). All of the dragons were impressed, bar Peter Jones. “It’s ridiculous,” he spat. “Why would I ever use this?”
“To be honest, I don’t think he was listening to our presentation,” says Westwood. “I told him that we’d sold 5,000 Magic Whiteboards that month. How can that be ‘ridiculous’?”
The Westwoods eventually accepted a £100k offer from Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden in return for a 40 per cent stake. “It’s been phenomenal. Dragons’ Den was the perfect medium for our product. It needs to be demonstrated. If it was just featured in a catalogue, no one would buy it.”
Within three hours of appearing on the show, Westwood’s website had 156,000 page impressions. It usually has 1,000 a day. The Magic Whiteboard is now stocked in 325 Ryman Stationary stores (owned by Paphitis) across the country and Westwood reckons he’ll pull in sales of £3m this year, 12 months earlier than originally forecast.
“We’ve gone from cottage industry to mass production in one fell swoop.”
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