Since Dragons’ Den aired, the show has been the ultimate platform to help small businesses ideas sky rocket into multi-million pound companies. From Levi Root’s Reggae Reggae range to Shane Lake and Tony Charles’ HungryHouse – we all know some of the most successful contestants who gained the Dragons’ approval, but what about the Dragons’ Den rejects? Although these entrepreneurs didn’t walk away with an investment, having their inventions on national TV not only boosted their awareness but also their sales. And did we mention they didn’t have to give a single penny of their profits away? Yes, these determined inventors made it all on their own, after being told their idea was rubbish or “worthless”, and are now rolling in it. Prepare to ask yourself “why didn’t I think of that?”, as we meet the multi-million pound entrepreneurs that got rejected by Britain’s best business minds…
Branded as “hair brained” by the Dragons, Shaun Pulfrey’s Tangle Teezer is now valued at £65 million and sold in over 70 countries. After being turned down by the Dragons in 2007, the determined entrepreneur continued on with his innovative product and nearly 10 years later his projected turnover for this year is £34 million. In his original pitch for the specially designed untangler brush in the Den, Pulfrey offered the Dragons 15% of his company for £80,000, which would have resulted in one of the Dragons receiving £8 million return on their investment. Ouch. Since it launched, the Tangle Teezer has become a favourite among celebrities including Cara Delevigne and can be bought at M&S and Urban Outfitters.
Whether you’re picnicking, at a concert or at a BBQ, who wouldn’t want a glass of beautiful French wine already poured, sealed and ready to drink? Well, apparently the Dragons didn’t. According to Duncan Bannatyne: “People don’t want to buy wine in plastic glasses like that with a seal on top. For that reason, I’m out.” Thankfully, Marks and Spencer’s thought it was genius and were completely sold on the idea. Since 2009 James Nash’s ‘Le Froglet’ AKA cup-a-wine continues to be sold across their stores.
Probably one of the most successful Dragons’ Den rejects, Trunki is a suitcase for children that they can ride around on when they’re too tired to queue. Invented by Rob Law, the suitcase was deemed by Peter Jones as “worthless” but despite being rejected, Law’s company now turnover £7 million a year. With Trunki having been such a massive success, Rob Law plans to develop a new series of products called Jurni, which are the teenage equivalent.
Destination London Board Game
After being rejected by the Dragons, Rachel Lowe continued on with her board game idea and landed a contract with Hamley’s Toy Store in 2004, where the game has become one of the top selling items online and in-store. Since her initial London themed game, the Destination board game range has gone on to include over 25 editions including a Destination Hogwarts, a Pixar Disney theme and a Harry Potter version. Thanks to her entrepreneurial skills, Lowe was awarded an MBE for her efforts in business during the Queen’s Birthday Honour List.
Road Refresher Dog Bowl
After being rejected, Natalie Ellis continued her plan to take her non-spill pet travel bowl to the US. Since taking her product state-side, her business has expanded to include clientele such as President Obama. Although her £120,000 offer was rejected by the Dragons, her exposure on the show resulted in her website crashing with people from around the world keen to buy her dog bowl.