Despite securing offers from four Dragons, entrepreneurs Dylan Watkins and Louise Mackintosh have since received funding from other avenues and have seen sales soar.
Wiltshire entrepreneurs Dylan Watkins and Louise Mackintosh stepped into the Dragons’ Den on Sunday evenings show to pitch their raw dog food business to the investors.
The pair had been running the business for less than 12 months before stepping into the Den however they were quietly confident they had what it took to win over the investors.
Louise told BQ: “Dylan went ahead and applied for the show without telling me. He told me after the initial audition that he wanted me to come too. I wasn’t impressed!
“We had so much going on in the business that I worried it was too much to take on at the same time. But the due diligence we had to go through with the BBC was actually one of the most useful things we have ever done – we now know our business so much better as a result.”
Dylan and Louise pitched for a £60,000 investment in return for 5% of their business, Poppy’s Picnic. However, as ambitious an ask it was for a company of their age and size, their sound financials and incredible results had the Dragons’ tails wagging from the off.
In just under a year, the pair were turning over £40,000 per month. This, coupled with a £44,000 order to Hong Kong secured just a month earlier and the right to sell their products in China, attracted four offers from the Dragons.
Tej Lelvani, who has his own supplements and nutrients business for pets, immediately offered £60,000 for 15% of the business, before they had even finished pitching. This followed offers by Deborah Meaden, Jenny Campbell and Touker Suleyman.
But, like many others who enter the Den, they already had an idea of who their ideal investor would be and it didn’t take them long to make their decision. Louise adds: “Deborah felt like the obvious choice before we even got to the Den.
“In the Den itself, it just felt right. She was willing us on all the way through our pitch and was willing us to choose her. It was a fit on both a professional and personal level. And when a Dragon opens by saying, “I feed all my pets raw food,” you know you are onto a winner!”
However, it wasn’t as straight forward as that. After leaving the Den, the pair were offered the chance to join the Entrepreneurial Spark accelerator programme and began scaling their business before attracting an offer from another investor which was just too good to turn down.
“Soon after the Den we were awarded a place on the UK's only free business accelerator programme, Entrepreneurial Spark, and also received an offer of investment at a higher valuation,” she said. “After much consideration we decided not to proceed with Deborah’s offer.
“We were over the moon to accept Deborah's offer in the Den and were genuinely thrilled at the prospect of working with her on Poppy's Picnic. But the circumstances changed and it wasn't meant to be... Not yet. We do hope very sincerely that our paths cross again in future.”
To coincide with the airing of the Dragons’ Den episode on Sunday, the pair have now also launched an ambitious crowdfunding campaign via Crowdcube in a bid to raise £350,000 as they look to continue scaling the business.
Louise concluded: “Our business is rooted in our customers – and their dogs - so it felt completely natural to crowdfund so that we could include them in our business journey. We also know there are many, many more other pet owners across the country who aren’t customers but will understand what we do and want to be part of it.
“The funding will support a relocation of premises, which will significantly increase our capacity, which in turn will allow us to launch cat food. Cats are an important market for us and we want to be able to reach them as quickly as possible.
“With increased capacity we can start selling more to trade, which will allow customers to buy our food direct from their local store and not only online. We will grow with cat food too. And we are always innovating – aiming to make raw feeding easier for more people.”
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