Dragons’ Den, a BBC show that is basically unkillable at this point, is back for its 18th series, making it old enough to vote, drink and get into clubs on June 21st.
Fans familiar with the show will know the drill: wannabe entrepreneurs bring in a product, pitch it to the Dragons, and are then either rewarded with a chunky investment or told “I’m out,” which is Dragon shorthand for “no money for you sir.”
It’s basically The Voice but instead of hitting a big glowy button, they dangle money in front of the contestants’ face.
You’d think, given the Dragons are all business experts in their own right, that they wouldn’t let an obvious moneyspinner slip through the net, but there you’d be wrong.
In fact, several brands have left the Den with no investment only to rake in millions after the fact. These are all of the most noteworthy examples.
In 2009 Brewdog’s founders said Dragons’ Den rejection was “a huge kick in the teeth for us at the time and that stinging rejection still burns today.”
At the time they were only asking for a measly £100,000, but the Dragons said the idea wasn’t original enough, so they were packed off without so much as a penny.
These days, as you’ll know if you’ve ever been to a supermarket, Brewdog is everywhere and the company is now worth around $2 million according to Forbes.
“We got over the rejection eventually – but it took a while,” said co-founder James Watt. “It would have been by far the most lucrative investment, not only in the history of Dragons’ Den but pretty much in investment history overall.”
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In the hazy days of 20017, before JustEat and Deliveroo even existed, HungryHouse was on Dragons’ Den asking for £100,000 to get the ball rolling.
The Dragons did in fact make an offer, with Duncan asking for 50 percent of the business, but it eventually fell through.
The company was valued at roughly £2 billion before JustEat bout them in a deal reportedly worth £240 million. Wow.
Cup-a-Wine is a genius concept: a glass of wine with the serving ALREADY INSIDE IT. Truly this is why we were put on this planet.
In 2008, though, Duncan Bannatyne wasn’t so keen.
“People do not want to buy wine glasses like that,” he said when James Nash asked for £250,000 to jumpstart the idea.
In 2012, James inked a deal with M&S and they launched Le Froglet wine to general acclaim and adulation from the British public. It is now worth millions.
To the Dragons, the Tangle Teezer was “just a brush” and “wouldn’t make any money”. Oh, how wrong they were.
After walking away from the Den without the £80,000 he asked for, Shaun Palfrey’s company is now worth a staggering £65 million. Yikes.
Also known as those stupid suitcases children ride around on in airports, Trunki wanted £100,000 from the Dragons to get their idea off the ground, but they were turned down.
Theo Paphitis told the founders he didn’t like the design, so he’s probably annoyed these days that the company’s turnover in 2018 was reported £9.5 million.
Dan Cluderay asked the Dragons for £150,000 when he appeared on the show in 2015.
His idea was for an online food company that recommended healthy alternatives to customers, but it was turned down.
These days the company is reportedly turning over more than £4 million a year.
Oppo Ice Cream
It’s hard to imagine why the Dragons wouldn’t invest in a concept as easy to understand as ice cream, but here we are.
After being sent out of the Den without the £60,000 they asked for, brothers Harry and Charlie Thuillier bounced back massively. Oppo is now stocked in over 1,300 stores across the UK, including the Co-Op and Waitrose.
In 2004 Rachel Lowe asked the Dragons for a paltry £75,000 for her board game about the capital but it was rejected.
When Hamleys eventually launched the product, it was the year’s best-seller, even outdoing Monopoly.
By 2009, Rachel was awarded an MBE for services to business and Destinations has been produced for 21 different cities.
Aquatina Water Bottle
The concept of Aquatina is simple – a water bottle that folds.
Duncan, however, wasn’t having it, describing the product as “a terrible invention.”
“It’s really made me angry. It’s ridiculous and it’s ludicrous,” he ranted. Marks & Spencer didn’t agree with him, though and now the bottle is sold across 15 countries.
Prestige Pets, Road Refresher Bowl
You know how on boats the ovens and stuff all swing on hinges so stuff doesn’t go everywhere? Well imagine that concept but for a dog bowl.
If you think that’s a daft idea then you’re in good company because the Dragons also thought so, rejecting the idea for the non-spill portable dog bowl in 2008.
Natalie Ellis, the brains behind the bowl, is now a millionaire and can count Barack Obama among those who bought a bowl.