Dragons' Den: The five most successful businesses

The return of Dragons' Den this Sunday on BBC Two will see a significant change to the panel. Theo Paphitis, a Dragon since the show began in 2005, has gone, while Hilary Devey will focus on projects elsewhere. Replacing the duo is Piers Linney, owner of internet communications company Outsourcery, and interior designer Kelly Hoppen. But what does it take to impress the Dragons? Here the five most successful businesses in the programme’s history. 

Paul Cockle- The Generating Company (2005)

When an entrepreneur asks for an investment of £160,000, the Dragons are always going to grill them closely. Paul Cockle and his contemporary circus production business was determined to compete with industries leaders including Cirque de Soleil. 

Paul stood strong against questions being asked about the financial side of his business and managed to secure the investment he came for, with Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis taking 40% of the business. The Generating Company have secured clients such as BBC and Audi. During his pitch, Paul’s insistence that his business could compete in the industry was criticised; but his success is there for all to see. 

Levi Roots- Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce (2007)

Levi Roots and his pitch was something of a rarity when he sung his way towards stardom in 2007. The charismatic musician secured a £50,000 investment from Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh in return for 40% of his business, making Roots’ Reggae Reggae Sauce a reality. Levi's Caribbean inspired products and a niche marketing strategy based around ‘putting music in your food’ made his business an instant success. 

A long list of products ranging from sauces to ready meals and snacks has seen Levi reap the financial rewards of his Dragons' Den experience. 

Denise Hutton-Gosney- Razzamataz Theatre Schools (2007)

Despite the current boom in the theatre and dance school market, Denise Hutton-Gosney saw a gap in the industry back in 2007 when she stepped in front of the Dragons. Razzamataz Theatre Schools offer exceptional and affordable singing, drama and dance lessons to children aged from 4 to 18. But, Denise’s appearance on the programme looked as if it was going from bad to worse when Four Dragons gasped the dreaded ‘I’m out’. Luckily,  Duncan Bannatyne gratefully offered the full £50,000 for 25%. Students from Razzamataz have gone on to appear in West End shows such as Billy Elliot.

Neil and Laura Westwood- Magic Whiteboard (2008)

Married couple Neil and Laura Westwood are considered one of the standout stories of Dragons' Den history. Heralded by Theo Paphitis as a ‘rare genuine success story’, their Magic Whiteboard product had the whole panel talking. The product was inspired by Neil who, while working for the NHS, saw a gap in the market for a lightweight and portable solution for a whiteboard. 

The whiteboard roll was created and the Westwood’s rise to stardom was magnificent. Leaving the Den with a £100,000 investment after Deborah Meadon and Paphitis secured 40% of the business, Magic Whiteboard has gone from strength to strength, listing a number of products including Magic Blackout Blinds. 

Richard Blakesley and Chris Barnardo- The Wand Company (2010)

It’s not every day that the Dragons are left with blank faces. But when optimistic duo Richard Blakesley and Chris Barnardo walked into the Den with their universal remote control that looks like a magic wand, all five investors were left impressed by the idea. The Kymera Magic Wand is a universal remote-recognising 13 gestures, allowing the users to control their music with a flick of the wrist. 

The pitch kicked off a bidding war, with all five dragons desperate to place offers. But, it was Duncan Bannatyne who secured the investment, taking 30% of the business for £200,000. The Wand Company has released products including a Doctor Who’s Sonic Screwdriver.

The one that got away: Rob Law- Trunki (2006)

Designer Rob Law and his inventive children’s hand-luggage product seemed to be on the road to success when he made his appearance on Dragons Den. Trunki was an innovative design, but the pitch turned into a nightmare when Theo Paphitis broke the strap of the suitcase. All Dragons refused to invest the required £100,000 for 10% and Rob was left with a huge task to sell his product. 

However, perseverance and determination has seen Trunki become a massive success. Over 1.8 million Trunki’s have been sold across 97 countries worldwide. The moral of the story is, never give up when you experience a setback.  

What's your Dragons' Den highlight? Let us know in the comments box below. 

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