Entrepreneurs give their all to impress the Dragons

Entrepreneurs give their all to impress the Dragons. Laura Cummings looks at what happens to those who escape the Den

COUNTLESS "entrepreneurs'" have faced the wrath of the TV Dragons and left with nothing.

Few manage to escape the Den with either what they asked for or their pride intact, with their "big idea" torn to shreds by millionaire Dragons Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Theo Paphitis, Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan on the hit BBC2 show.

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But being knocked back on the show has not necessarily meant the end for many of the entrepreneurs, including several from the Lothians.

Among the latest hopefuls were pooch lovers Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, 48, and Sarah McLean, 34, who appeared on the programme last night.

They asked the Dragons for 75,000 in return for a 20 per cent share in their business - Edinburgh's first canine crche.

The dog-minding duo had hoped to expand Citidogs Crche, which is based in Colinton, across the UK, but were refused funding by the Dragons.

"It was an amazing experience and we came away really fired up," says Sandy. "Immediately after recording for the show we bought our second van, and we're hoping to open our second crche by the end of the year."

So what about the other Lothian businesspeople who have ventured into the Den?


Andrew Gordon was laughed off the first ever Dragons' Den show after presenting his invention for steadying wobbly table legs but has had the last laugh.

The 34-year-old's invention was dismissed as "ridiculous" when he appeared on the show in 2005.

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Despite the humiliation, Mr Gordon, formerly of Linlithgow but who now lives in London, stood by his invention and has since sold more than three million Stabletables.

Mr Gordon, who also works full-time as head of marketing for a large insurance company, says: "After the show it took a couple of years for things to progress and then I sold about three million Stabletables over the course of the last three years, not just in the UK but America, Asia and Europe too."


Edinburgh entrepreneur Ralf Klinnert, below, pitched his fat-busting product on Dragons' Den last week and was successful.

Ralf sought investment for his electronically controlled "Funky Cones", aimed at encouraging youngsters to exercise and improve agility and fitness.

The 40-year-old electronic engineer pitched for 120,000 investment in return for a 20 per cent stake in his Livingston-based company Funky Moves.

Dragons Theo Paphitis and Peter Jones each offered 60,000 in return for a 25 per cent share, which Ralf accepted.

Since filming in May, Ralf has been in talks with a national company that distributes sports equipment, and aims to have the product available to buy by the end of the year.

"I'm currently in discussions for a partnership there which would get the product out there on a much larger scale," he says. "It's very exciting. I have made fantastic progress already."

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Ralf, who lives in Bruntsfield, has received hundreds of enquiries from around the world since appearing on the show.


Indie-pop band Hamfatter won the backing of Peter Jones in 2008, who stumped up 75,000 to fund their work and free them from the clutches of major record labels.

They re-released their single, The Girl I Love, which made it to number three in the indie charts, and the album, What Part of Hamfatter Do You Not Understand?

Hamfatter embarked on their first full UK tour in 2008 and their fourth album, Cassiopeia, will be released this year.

Guitarist James Ingham 29, from Leith, below, says: "Dragons' Den has given us lots of opportunities that we otherwise wouldn't have had, and lots more people hear our music now."


Motivational training company Tree of Knowledge asked the Dragons to invest 100,000 in the Dunfermline firm, in return for a ten per cent stake but the Dragons refused.

One of the firm's key products is the Apodo, a tool kit full of weird and wonderful materials designed to motivate people, and the team wanted to put the funding towards the launch of a business Apodo in October.

Managing director Gavin Oattes, who lives in Trinity, said: "We have gone ahead with the launch of the corporate Apodo.

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"We're also in discussions with regard to expanding the business in England. It might take that little bit more time without money from the Dragons, but that's okay."


Mark Greenhalgh defied criticism on Dragons' Den to launch a taxi TV advertising firm.

Despite not winning any investment on the show in 2004, Cabtivate initially appeared to prosper before hitting problems in 2007.

Dozens of Edinburgh cabbies were left out of pocket when Cabtivate, which screened adverts on televisions in the back of black taxis, went out of business.

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