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From Rejects to Riches: the Dragons’ Den Contestants Who Made it on Their Own

The UK TV show, Dragons’ Den, revolves around five wealthy investors who are approached in the ‘den’ by nervy entrepreneurs looking for cash to kick start their businesses. The dragons fight it out over the most lucrative investments, whilst those entrepreneurs who fail to capture their attention are kicked to the kerb and left to go it alone. The judgement of the dragons is usually spot-on, but there are a few that have fallen through their fingers and have gone on to achieve astronomical success.

The Tangle Teezer

Hairdresser Shaun Pulfrey took his innovative Tangle Teezer, a cross between a hairbrush and a comb, into the den back in 2007 with the hope of securing an £80,000 investment to grow his business. He was shrugged off by the dragons, who dismissed his product as a ‘hair-brained idea’. Thousands of long locked girls who saw the Tangle Teezer’s potential were no doubt screaming at the television in frustration as Shaun was turned down by the potential investors. Luckily for Shaun, he didn’t end up needing the dragons’ help, as he’s gone on to sell over 6 million units across 60 different countries and his product has won 20 awards. This year, his company is expected to turnover £15 million, with 75% year-on-year growth expected. Now, how’s that for a success story?


The idea behind individual servings of wine contained in a plastic, sealed glass is the brainchild of James Nash, who pitched his business plan to the dragons back in 2009. After being rejected by all of his potential investors, who thought his idea was ‘tacky’, James decided to go it alone and has since experienced huge success. Marks & Spencer are struggling to meet demand for the product, and the entrepreneur is now rolling the concept out to America.

Destination London

Cab driver Rachel Lowe took her board game, Destination London, into the den after combining her occupational knowledge with a Monopoly-style board game. She was dismissed by the dragons, but later went on to outsell the board game giant Hasbro in the world-famous Hamleys toy store and become its number one selling game.

The dragons may be experts, but these success stories are proof that they don’t always know a lucrative investment when they see it. Maybe a few of them need to seek some advice from some of the financial services companies in London before heading back into the den!

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