Dragon’s Den, Britain’s second favourite business TV programme, returned to our screens last night. But what have been the show’s biggest successes over the years? Solopress look at our five faves…
The confident walk down the stairs. The insane company ‘over’ evaluation. The confused pitch. The flustered face. The complete lack of commercial awareness. The stern look – and razor sharp questions – from the five impatient multi-millionaire investors. The rejections that quickly follow. The crestfallen walk back up the stairs with no investment secured.
Yes, Dragon’s Den is back. After all, UK plc desperately needs something to inspire all of us now that the athletes have gone back to their crazy training schedules for the Rio Olympics. Meantime, here’s a timely look back at the popular TV show’s previous business success stories since the first episode was broadcast in January 2005.
5. Denise Hutton-Gosney
Before establishing Razzamataz Theatre Schools in 2000, Denise Hutton-Gosney had been a professional dancer for over 10 years, performing around the world on cruise ships, pantomimes and the London Palladium. She secured a £50,000 investment from Duncan Bannatyne for 25% in her company in 2007. There are now nearly 40 Razzamataz schools across the UK, with a new one opening in Sheffield this month.
4. Guy Portelli
Sculptor Guy Portelli managed to negotiate one of the savviest deals ever by a contestant on Dragon’s Den, securing an £80,000 investment from James Caan, Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis in 2008. Guy’s Pop Icons Collection was unveiled a year later at The Mall Galleries in London. Editions of the pieces are still available to buy.
3. Kirsty Henshaw
Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones offered emotional single mum Kristy Henshaw an investment of £65,000 for a 30% stake in her allergen free, nutritious food business. Since the show aired in 2010, she’s re-branded her Worthenshaws company as Kirsty’s and is selling frozen desserts and ready meals.
2. Hilary Devey
Hilary Devey, the award winning haulage entrepreneur and post-Dynasty queen of the shoulder pads, is leaving the Dragon’s Den this autumn after only appearing in two series. She’s departing the show to front a new business programme for Channel 4, called The Intern. “Hilary is not only an exceptional businesswoman but an unforgettable TV presenter,” says Jay Hunt, Channel 4’s chief creative officer. “I am thrilled she is joining Channel 4.”
1. Levi Roots
Easily the most memorable of all the business hopefuls on Dragon’s Den, Levi Roots immediately made a great impression on the Dragons by singing his pitch to them! Before appearing on the Dragon’s Den, Levi made the spicy Reggae Reggae sauce in his kitchen in Brixton. By exchanging a 40% stake in his company for an investment of £50,000, Levi secured the support of Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh in 2007. Reggae Reggae sauce became an instant success, and the brand is now available as cooking and table sauces, crisps, pasties, pizzas, ready meals, soft drinks, wraps and more.
Levi has even been given this animated makeover by the Oscar-winning Aardman studio for his new TV advert: