“Is the UK a truly entrepreneurial country? Absolutely not,” he told the audience. “We’re far behind other countries in helping small businesses.”
The Jamaica-born entrepreneur used to make his famous sauce from his kitchen in Brixton with the help of his seven children.
“It’s very odd that the first thing I had to do was get a refusal letter from the bank. Only then could I apply for funding from other sources.”
Roots appeared on Dragons’ Den in February last year, singing a tune about his sauce (“So nice with your fried chicken, Make burgers finger lickin’) as he entered the lair.
Blown away by his pitch, Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh each committed £25k for a 20 per cent share in the business. Jones put in a call to Justin King, the CEO of Sainsbury’s, who agreed an exclusive deal to stock Reggae Reggae Sauce.
“It’s become one of the biggest selling sauces in this country,” said Roots. “We’ve sold one million bottles in ten months. At one stage, we were outselling Heinz tomato ketchup.”
When quizzed about the lack of entrepreneurial success stories or role models from the Afro Caribbean community, Roots quipped: “There are too many bloody Dragons in the way! I had to slay five of them to get my sauce in the shops.”
To end the panel discussion, Roots broke into his famous Reggae Reggae Sauce song, much to the delight of the audience. Watch his pitch to the Dragons here.
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