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The Dragons' Den 'rejects' that had the last laugh

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by Startacus Admin

Earlier this week (July 2014) we had the pleasure of hearing that Jennifer Duthie - our Self Starter of the Year for 2013 had pitched successfully on the Dragon's Den. It fab to see her great and already trading well business being further validated by the Dragons themself.

However not all contestants are so lucky...

One of the most disheartening things has to be when you come up with an idea, share it with someone and they either laugh, dismiss it or just don’t Dragons Den 2014plain get it. It’s bad enough when that happens and the person in question is your best friend, work colleage, or partner; but when the person in question is a ‘figure of note’, an ‘expert’ (aka the Dragons themselves) one who would ‘know best’, it’s an entirely different thing. Demoralising? Demotivating? Embarrassing? Of course!

That pretty much must sum up how some contestants feel when they exit that infamous lair which is the Dragons’ Den. All that preparation, all that planning, all that work, only to be ridiculed and told that they are wasting their time.

Much as we admire what the Dragons do, we have to admit to feeling more than a little delight when we hear of ‘the one that got away’ - the contestant who they dismissed out of hand, whose idea they snubbed, who in turn makes a real success of it without their help. Hats off to them for having the tenacity and passion to do it anyway!

So, if someone has just mocked, laughed at or derided your latest idea, why not take a little inspiration from these previous Dragons' Den rejects first highlighted by Startacus in 2012 and keep on going regardless...

Aquatina is a water bottle which, when empty, collapses to fit into a pocket or handbag. When Guy Jeremiah asked the Dragons for £100,000 for 10% equity, he was turned down flat and his product, business model and forecasting all brought into question. It didn’t deter him though. The product is now on sale in 15 countries and Guy has signed a distribution deal with none other than M & S.

When Adam Ewart entered the Den, he asked for £100k investment in return for 5% equity. His idea, SendmyBag offers a door to door luggage delivery service, to help air travellers travel light and combat the excess luggage charges demanded by airlines. Despite being told that he was reinventing the wheel and that his valuation of his business was ludicrous and insane, Adam has since managed to find Angel Investment from NI based Loughshore Investments and is now expanding the business internationally.

‘Stupid’ was how one Dragon, Hilary Devey described the Safestix product which was introduced to the Den by its’ creator Paul Blair. Safestix is a rubber dogs’ toy which replicates a wooden stick but which cannot splinter or hurt the dog. Undeterred however, Paul carried on and now can boast excellent product sales both online, in retailers and at dog shows as well as a recently signed global deal with US pet product giant, Kong.

When Rob Law appeared on the Den with Trunki, a ride-on hand luggage suitcase for children, not only was his idea dismissed, but the product itself broke when one of the Dragons, Theo Paphitis tugged its’ strap! However Rob took it on the chin, carried on with his business idea and within no time at all secured agreements with some of the country’s biggest retailers. Since then, the business has expanded overseas and Trunki is now sold in over 60 countries worldwide and Rob has also diversified the company’s product range.

Tangle Teezer
Shaun Pulfrey’s idea for an innovative hairbrush that smoothed knotted hair easily was considered a no go for the dragons. His request for an investment of £85000 in return for 15% of the business was rejected and he was told his idea was not a ‘worthy business project’. Shaun felt differently though and carried on, with the result that he now has a substantial online business with customers globally as well as lucrative contracts with leading high street retailers including Boots.

Inspiring stuff, we’re sure you’ll agree. The moral of this tale? Ignore the naysayers - just keep on going...

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Published on: 30th October 2012

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