All the huge brands and products that were originally rejected on Dragon’s Den
They turned down BrewDog, which is now worth around £1.6billion
The CEO of BrewDog has revealed the £100,000 investment he asked for, which was turned down by Dragon’s 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 Dragon’s 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 Dragon’s Den rejects, who went on to create hugely successful brands and make millions.
In 2009, the founders of brewery and pub chain BrewDog applied for Dragon’s 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, according to BrewDog, 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.”
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 Dragon’s 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.”
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 Dragon’s 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.
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.
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 their Le Froglet wine in glasses. The product has sold millions.
In 2007, Shane Lake and Tony Charles appeared on Dragon’s 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.
In 2015, Dan Cluderay went on Dragon’s 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.
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
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
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
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 15 other countries. Guess that’s a big two fingers to Duncan then.