Jenny, 50, a special abilities school assistant and Martin Chard, 50, a self-employed building maintenance man, are the brains behind Marxman, the latest business to wow the Dragons’.
Marxman is a new tool addressing the common problem of being unable to clearly mark a drilling hole, something regularly encountered by professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike.
With one push the Marxman delivers a burst of brightly coloured chalk that marks any surface ready for drilling or fixing, even at a distance from the wall.
Martin came up with the idea for Marxman six years ago while trying to fit a sink. He couldn’t mark the drilling position on the wall and see the marks clearly so after a few time wasting attempts he reached for a can of black spray paint in desperation and marked it with that.
After several other frustrating incidents like this and lots of wasted trips up and down ladders with broken pencils and felt tips not doing the job, he started the process of developing Marxman so other workers could benefit.
Once a search of the patent office came back clear in 2009, Marxman began to take shape in 2010 as the first early stage prototype was developed. The first product was sold in 2014 and in March this year the duo secured a contract with trade retailer Wickes.
In a bid to raise capital to continue growing the business, having already patented the concept, the duo decided to apply for popular TV Show Dragons’ Den.
Airing on BBC 2 last night, each of the Dragons immediately saw the potential in Martin’s invention and were keen to get on board, with each of them making an offer to invest in the business.
After receiving an offer from each of the Dragons, Jenny and Martin decided to choose Deborah Meaden to be their partner and mentor.
They gladly accepted her £50,000 investment for 30% of the business even though this wasn’t the highest offer they received.
Speaking about the decision to choose Meaden, Jenny said: “We had our sight set on Deborah from the very beginning.
“She’s a fantastic businesswoman with a huge amount of knowledge and experience in this sector that will really help us develop our offering and expand our network.”
Meaden added: “The best inventions come from people solving a problem that lots of us experience but don't do anything about.
“Martin is exceptional in that not only did he recognise and solve the problem through his invention, but he did so in a simple, elegant and affordable way.
“I can see widespread use of the Marxman with it becoming an essential part of all home and professional tool kits.”
It was Jenny’s son Oren who came up with the name Marxman and up until recently the family have been manufacturing every unit themselves in order to achieve the level of perfection they wanted to ensure Marxman does the job.
Jenny said: “Being on Dragons’ Den was extremely daunting and we were very nervous, we definitely got flustered when being grilled on the numbers – that’s not our forte!
“We are the first to admit that we have very little business experience and we know we need a lot of help.
“We’ve been able to get this far thanks to the extraordinary support we’ve had from friends, family and the various businesses big and small we’ve asked advice from along the way.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone that has believed in Marxman and played a part in our journey so far.”
Jenny and Martin plan to use Deborah’s investment to increase manufacture and grow the awareness of such a useful tool.
It is also set to be stocked in Screwfix stores across the UK later this year.
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