9 businesses who earned millions after being brutally rejected by Dragon’s Den

Dragons' Den infamous Dragons are some of the best business brains in the country – but even they can miss out on a good investment once in a while.

And across the last 16 years on the BBC One show, the group have enjoyed some phenomenal success from their various investments and helped to make a name for many young budding entrepreneurs in the business.

But they’ve also missed out on some massive opportunities and sent several entrepreneurs packing who have since gone on to earn millions with their products.

Huge names such as BrewDog beer and the Tangle Teezer comb were completely overlooked and even ridiculed in the Den which have now gone on to become popular household names.

The investors have gone on to miss out of stacks of money from their poor choices, including the most lucrative opportunity ever which would have seen them bag £360 million from just a £100,000 investment.

Here’s a look back at some of the businesses which were rejected from the Den and went on to prove the Dragon’s wrong.


Everyone has heard of BrewDog and spotted it in your local supermarket, but co-owners James Watt and Martin Dickie transformed their beer brewing company without the guidance of the five investors on the show.

Shortly after they founded their company 13 years ago, the pair applied to go on Dragons Den and got through the initial application process where they were selected for a screen test.

The dynamic duo effectively gave a practice pitch before they could meet their celebrity investors in which they offered a 20 per cent stake of their business in return for the £100,000 investment.

Despite pitching their hearts out, the duo claimed the Dragon’s Den producers decided it wasn’t good enough for the show and sent them packing without being able to share their ideas with the Dragons.

In 2018, the boys explained: “They thought our business wasn’t a good-enough investment proposition for the Dragons and that BrewDog was not unique enough, special enough or with enough growth potential to make the grade and appear on the show.

“So, at the last minute it was decided that we would not get to pitch out business to the Dragons.

“It was a huge kick in the teeth for us at the time and that stinging rejection still burns today.”

And that decision has proven to be a huge loss for the show after their woeful decision to reject the £100,000 investment for a fifth of the business would now be worth a whopping £360 million.

They boasted: “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.”

The pair also said the producers claimed the duo weren’t very good on TV and would not be able to present a televised pitch well which was another reason they were rejected from the show.

Despite their initial setback, James and Martin are now pleased that they were rejected by the BBC show as they went on to incorporate a finance model that lets their loyal customers own a part of the company.

They have also gone on to launch their own US TV show BrewDogs and launched The BrewDog Network – a streaming service featuring beer and cooking series, game shows and documentaries.

Hungry House

Entrepreneurs Shane Lake and Tony Charles presented their idea for an online takeaway order and delivery service back in 2007.

On the show, the pair secured an offer of £100,000 from James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne in exchange for 50 per cent of the business but the deal fell through during post-show negotiations.

And although the Dragons didn’t want a cut of the business, the company went on to feed millions up and down the country which earned them a healthy profit.

The lads managed to raise £150,000 from other investors after the show and in the space of just three years, they increased their restaurant partners from 150, to 2,500.

Since then, the company was bought by German food ordering giant Delivery Hero in 2013 who went on to sell the business to Just Eat in 2016 for a staggering £200 million.

Tangle Teezer

It’s fair to say, 2007 was a tricky year for entrepreneurs on the popular BBC programme, and Shaun Palfrey wasn’t the only one who missed out on the investment of the business Dragons.

The inventor got stuck in knots while pitching his Tangle Teezer hairbrush, which helps to remove tangles painlessly.

However, his mannequin model wobbled throughout the pitch and even snapped one of his combs on the show.

After his horrific pitch, he went on to offer 15 per cent of his business for an £80,000 investment but the Dragons decided to cut their losses and let him leave empty handed.

At the time, Deborah Meaden claimed it looked like a “horse brush” while Duncan Bannatyne added it “won’t make any money”.

But determined to prove them wrong, Shaun remortgaged his flat and used savings to get his product off the ground and into Boots – a British health and beauty retailer.

Luckily, his risky move paid off as his innovative product went on to sell 35,000 brushes in the first year alone, where he managed to push them into famed salon chains such as Toni and Guy and Regis.

After this the businessman started selling them internationally and his company is now estimated to be work an astonishing £65 million.

His products have even been endorsed by many big-name celebrities including Cara Delevigne and fashion mogul Victoria Beckham.


In 2006, Rob Law was completely humiliated when he appeared on Dungeons Den with his colourful carry-on hand luggage.

The budding inventor pitched for £100,000 in return for a 10 per cent stake of his business but the deal crumbled after fellow Dragon Theo Paphitis ripped the handle off of one of his rideable children’s suitcases.

His broken product caused fury inside the Den, as Theo exclaimed: “You shouldn’t come here with problems that can be solved … it drives me mad that we waste our time with these things.”

Despite the issues with his product, Rob did get an offer from Australian Dragon Richard Farleigh but he was only willing to part with half the cash for the same amount of equity.

The entrepreneur boldly turned down the generous offer, and went on to launch his colourful luggage in a number of retailers – including John Lewis – up and down the country.

Now, you will struggle to find a child without one of these brightly coloured suitcases with an estimate of one Trunki sold every 3.5 minutes in 2008.

The luggage is now sold in over 100 countries worldwide and has reportedly since turned over £9.5 million in 2018.

Prestige Pets

Another disappointing pitch was by Natalie Ellis who appeared on the show with her idea of a portable dog bowl for dogs which doesn’t spill back in 2008.

The simple concept failed to impress the Dragons when she asked for an investment of £120,000 for 15 per cent of her business.

Fortunately, the star found success when she took her business idea overseas in the heart of Chicago where she has gone on to become a huge success.

In 2010, the inventor raked in her first million and even went on to claim that former President Barack Obama got his paws on one of her in-demand bowls for his furry friends.

Destination Board Games

Rachel Lowe joined the show back in 2004, where she pitched her idea of board game titled Destination London based on her experience as a black cab driver.

The brunette beauty asked for £75,000 investment from the Dragons but they turned her away after she mixed up some of her figures during her investment presentation.

At the time, the businessmen and women were left unimpressed as one fumed: “It doesn’t seem like you’ve prepared very well to come in front of us today.”

Prior to her TV appearance, Rachel had already secured a deal with Hamley's but she needed more funds to fully develop her product.

Luckily, Hamley’s gave her the extra funds she needed to develop the board game successfully which went on to become its best-selling game that year – even outselling game board giant Monopoly.

The businesswoman has now launched a staggering 21 versions of the game and even got the Queen’s approval when she was awarded an MBE for services to business in 2009.

Aquatina Water Bottle

Guy Jeremiah caused contention when he brought his idea of a collapsible water bottle into the Den in 2010.

The entrepreneur sent investor Duncan into a blind rage as he fumed that the product would be useless.

He labelled the product a “terrible invention”, adding: “It’s really made me angry. It's ridiculous and it’s ludicrous.”

Although the investor failed to receive the funds he needed in return for 10 per cent of the business, he managed to sign a deal with M&S.

Since his deal, he launched his cheap and environmentally friendly bottle which are now stocked in 15 other countries and has sold more than 100,000 water bottles.

Approved Food

The Dragons weren’t impressed when they met Approved Food founders Dan Cluderay and Andy Needham in the Den in 2015.

Their business idea was to sell out-of-date food to food smart shoppers so families could cut down on spending hundreds on their weekly shopping bill.

Dan and Andy were willing to give up to 10 per cent of their businesses to potential partners in exchange for an investment of £150,000.

But none of the Dragons were going to bite as they left the entrepreneurs empty handed.

After the pair were rejected, the former market traders came runners up in the 2015 Virgin Media Pitch to Rich competition and secured £100,000 from the marketing campaign.

Later that year, they were receiving 3,000 orders a week and were regularly making a turnover of £4 million a year.

Oppo Ice Cream

In more recent years, brothers Harry and Charlie Thuillier failed to get any money from their investment pitch back in 2016.

The dynamic duo entered the Den with their idea of a low-calorie and “guilt-free” ice cream range which have fewer calories than a large apple.

They asked for £60,000 for a seven per cent stake in their business but were turned away after the Dragons claimed their product was too risky an investment.

Moonpig founder Nick Jenkins said: “The reward doesn’t justify the risk” when it came to forking over the money to the two lads.

However, the pair managed to raise the funds needed to launch their business through a series of crowdfunding attempts and now have 538 investors in their company – including tennis champion Sir Andy Murray.

They have also won the approval and backing of Sir Richard Branson and their ice cream is now stocked in more than 1,300 stores including the likes of Co-op, Holland & Barrett and Waitrose.

For more of the latest showbiz news from Daily Star, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here.

Source: Read Full Article