“I’d just come back from a buying trip in the Far East, saw the Screen Machine, believed in it and wanted to take it to market,” says Mire, who applied for the show in February this year.
The Screen Machine connects to any TV, DVD player or games console in your house, and allows you to control when and for how long your children spend in front of the screen by inserting reusable tokens. Mire was after a £150k investment in return for a 15 per cent stake in the business.
The Dragons hated it. “I just tell my children to switch the bloody TV off. That works just fine,” commented an irritated Duncan Bannatyne.
They were also annoyed by the fact that Mire already runs a successful toy business – RDM Creations which makes £300k a year on sales of £750k.
“They made a point of showing they don’t like people who have other businesses,” says Mire. “All the figures and details of potential markets for the Screen Machine were discussed on the Den – but those bits were edited out.”
Did he feel that Bannatyne’s scathing comments (“I’m not going to wish you luck in your business. In fact, I hope it fails”) were justified? “If there was going to be a problem with one of the Dragons, I always knew it would be with him,” says Mire. “You might remember the iTeddy on a former episode of the show? He hated that too. As with the Screen Machine, he couldn’t imagine giving that product to his children – but I don’t think that necessarily means that every family in the UK is the same.
“I still reckon there’s a huge market for the Screen Machine in this country. Since the airing, we’ve had confirmation of trial shows with two of the leading UK shopping channels. We’ve also had discussions with a major electronics distributor and a big holiday park, which is interested in putting the Screen Machine in each of its chalets.”
Mire says over 1,000 customers have registered their contact details on his website for updates as soon as the new stock lands in the UK.
“I’m estimating we’ll sell between 40-50,000 units in a year,” he says. “Each one will retail at £29.99 and the margins are around 55 per cent.”
So what next for the tenacious businessman? "I’m going to grow the business slowly, without external investment," he says. "I‘m not bitter that the Dragons didn’t believe in the product; I’m an entrepreneur and I’ll learn from this experience."
However, he does take a pop at the editing of the show. “They’ve got a format where every week they have one person who succeeds, one person who misses out because they already have a business and one person who fails because they messed up their figures. The focus is definitely on the reaction of the Dragons, rather than the potential of the business."
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