Dragons’ Den rich list reveals wealthiest contestants ever – including £40m empire rejected as a ‘delusional disaster’ | The SunApril 15, 2023
DRAGONS’ Den is the nation's favourite business show and has been on our TV screens for 18 years.
Of the many investment gurus, tech giant Peter Jones is the only star to have featured on all 225 episodes of the hit BBC programme.
As many entrepreneurs know, pitching in the Dragons' Den is no walk in the park and many leave humiliated and empty-handed.
But for some, the risk is worth it because securing support from one of the TV show’s business brains can be life-changing and help them to make millions.
Here, we reveal some of the most successful companies to emerge from the show in our Dragons’ Den rich list.
It was one of the most humiliating pitches in Dragons' Den's history after the co-founders were branded both “delusional” and a “disaster” in 2018.
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But now it seems that the men behind Pasta Evangelists are having the last laugh after being one of the show's most successful companies.
Despite failing to bag an investment, co-founder Finn Lagun told The Sun that they were “on track to make £40million in revenue” this year.
He explained that “sales exploded” after the episode aired, with many disagreeing with the Dragons' mockery, and they went on to make £10million in sales in 2020 alone.
They were bought out by the world’s largest pasta company Barilla in 2021 for a reported £40million and now have more than 40 kitchens across the UK.
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Finn explains a personal highlight was the fancy fresh pasta brand being invited to be guest judges for the semi-finals of Gordon Ramsay’s Future Food Stars.
He told us: “A few years on from being called ‘delusional’ and a ‘disaster’, a three Michelin star chef was inviting us to be the authority on his TV show.
“We went from being downtrodden and ridiculed to being celebrated by Gordon Ramsay, which was a real moment of vindication.”
Reggae Reggae Sauce
The musical pitch from Levi Roots – real name Keith Valentine Graham -remains one of the most famous in the Den and propelled the entrepreneur to national fame in 2007.
His offering was Reggae Reggae Sauce, a secret recipe created by his grandmother, which secured a £50,000 investment for 20 per cent of his business.
Former Dragon Duncan Bannatyne will likely be kicking himself after telling Levi there was “no future in this business” on the show.
It’s now stocked in all major supermarkets across the country and the entrepreneur is reportedly worth £35million.
Peter, who invested alongside Richard Farleigh, boasted the business was “one of my most successful investments from the show”.
Craft Gin Club and Bubble Club
Jon Hulme and John Burke’s business was branded “the most ingenious product ever featured” on Dragons’ Den by commentators after the show aired.
Their artisanal gin and sparkling wine subscription service was pounced upon by former Dragon Sarah Willingham, who was already a customer.
She offered £75,000 for 12.5 per cent share in the company back in 2016 and the company has soared since.
The company’s annual turnover for 2021 was reportedly £33.58million and their compound average sales growth – a measure of revenue growth – was 112.7 per cent.
Dragons were lining up for a slice of Sam Jones’ business Gener8, which helps internet users profit from their data, back in 2021.
His pitch was called the “best ever”, “brilliant” and “exquisite” by the investors and he walked away with £60,000 from Peter and Touker Suleyman.
Sam told The Sun that six million people – nearly 10 per cent of the UK’s population – visited his website after the show aired and since then his business has boomed.
He’s now got a number of celebrity backers including Harry Redknapp, Tinie Tempah, Tony Ryan and Chris Gayle as well as a “bonus” Dragon.
Sam told us Tej Lalvani called him after the show to “reiterate that he loved the pitch and business and really wanted to be involved”.
"He told me, ‘Sam, I can’t miss this opportunity, I’ve got to be on board,'" the founder recalled.
"It must have been the first time a Dragon has chased up a contestant outside of the show”
Just last month, Gener8 was valued at £30million after raising £5.1million in a new funding drive and Sam admitted the success was “all very humbling”.
With revenue in excess of £30million and selling more than two million units worldwide, Wonderbly is easily among the most successful Dragons’ Den businesses.
The personalised children's book business was pitched by ‘dad-treprenuers’ Asi Sharabi, David Cadji-Newby, Tal Oron and Pedro Serapicos back in 2014.
They received a £100,000 investment from Piers Linney for four per cent back and since then it's brought in millions.
Former Dragon Piers said it was on track to be “the most successful business to have ever passed through the Den’s Walls” and it’s hard to disagree.
Since the show, Wonderbly was nominated for a BAFTA, scooped countless awards and last year announced a collaboration with the Roald Dahl Estate.
Contrary to its name, it couldn’t be any further away from a confectionery business.
ChocBox is actually a small plastic container designed to safely hold electric wires.
Founder Peter Moule became a millionaire just three months into his partnership with Duncan and James Caan, who invested £150,000 for 36 per cent of the business
Shortly after the showing aired in 2007, the entrepreneur signed a three-year deal with GET PLC, one of Britain’s biggest distributors of electric accessories.
As part of the arrangement the £1-a-pop gadget was predicted to sell five million units per year in 152 countries and was believed to have the potential to make up to £100million in sales.
Current figures for ChocBox are not known but the GET PLC multi-year deal was brokered for £25million.
Previously Peter told the Daily Mail: “Although I was nervous about appearing on Dragons' Den, I have always been confident about my product and its potential, and I went in with a quietly confident air about me.”
The pitch from the founders of Skinny Tan was definitely an eye-catching displaying – as it featured three dancers in bikinis.
Louise Ferguson and Kate Cotton wanted £60,000 for a 10 per cent stake in their self-tanning product business, which claimed to also eradicate cellulite, back in 2013.
After an impressive pitch and boasting £600,000 in sales before the show, the Dragons' ears perked up – eventually leading to Kelly Hoppen and Piers investing.
After the show, they struck a £150,000 deal with the "Australian equivalent of Boots" and by 2014, reports showed they had made £1million in revenue.
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In 2017, Louise told The Sun that their turnover was "several million pounds a year" but insisted she did not "live a millionaire's lifestyle".
It has since been reported that the Skinny Tan founders have made £5million and the company has an annual turnover of £2.2million.
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