All the huge brands and products that were originally rejected on Dragons’ Den

They told the people behind Pasta Evangelists they were ‘delusional’ but now the business is worth £200million


The CEO of BrewDog has revealed the £100,000 investment he asked for, which was turned down by Dragons’ Den 13 years ago, would now be worth £360million – the best deal in the programme’s history. You might not even believe that it was initially turned down by the Dragons in the Den – but there have been loads of other, now successful, brands which were given the dreaded “I’m out” on the show. So, who else are among the many other now successful Dragons’ Den rejects?

From the beer company to hair products and takeaway brands, the investors really have let some slip through the net in their time. Here are the biggest Dragons’ Den rejects, who went on to create hugely successful brands and make millions.


Brewdog, Brew, Dog, Dragon's Den, pitch

via Instagram @brewdogofficial

In 2009, the founders of brewery and pub chain BrewDog applied for Dragons’ Den. They got on to the show and pitched the business to the Dragons, asking for a £100,000 investment in return for 20 per cent of the business. However, the Dragons rejected them saying the idea was not investment worthy nor unique enough. The business said it was “a huge kick in the teeth for us at the time and that stinging rejection still burns today.”

via SWNS

However BrewDog has now said the £100,000 investment alone would now be worth £360million and Forbes valued the company at around $2billion (£1.6billion), meaning this would have been the best deal in Dragons’ Den history. Co-founder James Watt said: “We got over the rejection eventually – but it took a while. It would have been by far the most lucrative investment, not only in the history of Dragon’s Den, but pretty much in investment history overall.”

Pasta Evangelists

via Instagram @pastaevangelists

In 2016, Pasta Evangelists was founded after one of the three founders attended a pasta making workshop. Inspired, he used his Italian grandmother’s recipe and sold the first ever portion of gnocchi from the brand. Two years down the line and the trio appeared on Dragons’ Den, offering a 1.5 per cent stake in Pasta Evangelists in return for £75,000 investment.

During the pitch, Dragon Jenny Campbell savagely said: “I like it because it’s a good lesson on how not to run and set-up a business. This is pasta le disaster and I’m out.” Touker Suleyman branded them “delusional”. The business is now worth £200million and turns over £14million in revenue a year.


Dragon's Den rejects, Dragon's Den, millions, brands, success, stories, rejects, turned down, Trunki, suitcases

via Instagram @trunkitravels

You’ve seen those little suitcases in airports with the characters on that kids sit on top of and ride about on? Yeah, annoying, but nonetheless a great idea and they are everywhere. The product was originally pitched on Dragons’ Den, but was turned down.

Rob Law appeared on the show pitching the idea, wanting £100,000 in return for 10 per cent of the business. Theo Paphitis said he didn’t like the design and Rob didn’t secure any investment. The suitcases are now stocked in loads of retailers, including John Lewis, and the turn over in 2018 for the company was reportedly £9.5million.

Tangle Teezer

Tangle Teezer, Dragon's Den

via Instagram @tangleteezer

In 2007, the Tangle Teezer hairbrush was pitched to the Dragons. Shaun Palfrey wanted £80,000 for 15 per cent of the business, which the Dragons are probably kicking themselves over now. They called the idea “just a brush” and said it “won’t make any money”. How wrong they were, the company is now worth £65million and is loved by celebrities and the public alike.


Dragon's Den rejects, Dragon's Den, millions, brands, success, stories, rejects, turned down, Cup-A-Wine, wine, M&S, Le Froglet

In 2009, James Nash pitched the quite frankly genius idea of selling people a glass of wine, already served up in the glass. Yep, a wine glass with a serving of wine already in it. Incredible.

He asked for £250,000 in return for 25 per cent of the business. However, Duncan Bannatyne said: “People do not want to buy wine glasses like that” and it was branded as “tacky”. The idea was rejected. James Nash then bagged a deal with M&S in 2012 to launch its Le Froglet wine in glasses. The product has sold millions.


Dragon's Den rejects, Dragon's Den, millions, brands, success, stories, rejects, turned down, HungryHouse

In 2007, Shane Lake and Tony Charles appeared on Dragons’ Den to present their idea of an online takeaway order and delivery service called HungryHouse. They asked for £100,000 in return for 11 per cent of the business. The Dragons made them an offer, with Duncan asking for 50 per cent of the business, but it fell through.

The company was later valued at around £2billion before, in 2018, the service was bought by Just Eat in a deal worth up to £240million. 

Approved Food

In 2015, Dan Cluderay went on Dragons’ Den hoping to secure investment in his online food company, Approved Food. He asked for £150,000 in return for a 10 per cent stake in the business. The idea was rejected in the Den, but the company is now reportedly turning over more than £4million a year.

Destination London

Destination London, Dragon's Den

via Amazon

Rachel Lowe invented Destination London, a destinations based board game, and took her idea into the Den in 2004. She asked for a £75,000 investment – which she didn’t get.

Hamley’s launched the product and it became its best selling game that year – out selling Monopoly. Rachel Lowe went on to launch 21 different varieties of the game and was awarded an MBE in 2009 for services to business. At least Her Majesty liked it, right?

Prestige Pets, Road Refresher Bowl

Dragon's Den rejects, Dragon's Den, millions, brands, success, stories, rejects, turned down, Road Refresher Bowl

Natalie Ellis, the founder of Prestige Pets, appeared on the show in 2008 pitching her idea – the Road Refresher Bowl. It’s a non-spill portable bowl for dogs, ideal for taking out in the car for long walks and trips.

She is now a millionaire, after reportedly making her first million in 2010. Barack Obama even said he bought one of the bowls for his dog.

Oppo Ice Cream

Oppo Ice Cream, Dragon's Den

via Instagram @oppobrothers

In 2016, brothers Harry and Charlie Thuillier went on the show asking for investment in their luxury ice cream brand. They wanted £60,000 but the Dragons said it was too risky. The ice cream is now stocked in over 1,300 stores including Co-op, Holland & Barrett and Waitrose.

Aquatina Water Bottle

Dragon's Den rejects, Dragon's Den, millions, brands, success, stories, rejects, turned down, Aquatina, water bottle

Duncan thought Guy Jeremiah’s idea of a collapsable water bottle was “a terrible invention”, adding: “It’s really made me angry. It’s ridiculous and it’s ludicrous.” But in short, it wasn’t. The bottles are now stocked in M&S and in 15 other countries. Guess that’s a big two fingers to Duncan then.

Chika’s Foods

via BBC

In a huge turn up for the books, Chika’s Foods turned down the Den, as opposed to them turning it down. Chika Russell appeared on the show in 2015, and turned down a £30,000 investment from Peter Jones in her food company. Seven years later, and she’s secured an £9.8million investment elsewhere and owns six houses.

Speaking to This Is Money, she said: “As a result I’ve started paying myself a salary for the first time since I set it up seven years ago. Less than 10 per cent of private equity funding goes to female entrepreneurs – and less than one per cent goes to women like myself who are from black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds. So it’s a huge deal to secure such a significant investment.”

Chika aced her Dragons’ Den pitch, and all the Dragons wanted to work with her. She initially said yes to Peter Jones’s cash in exchange for a 25 per cent stake in her African-inspired snack company, but off-camera changed her mind and turned down his offer.

She’s doing pretty well for herself now – owning six houses, including an eight-bed Notting Hill mansion where she lives with her husband. Chika also donates 1p from each sale of her products to World Vision, in a bid to give girls in Africa an education.

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