Dragons’ Den success stories

Need some start up inspiration? These Dragons’ Den success stories show how to make a start up business a success with a little funding and a lot of work.

Start up businesses come in all shapes and sizes – from children’s fashion to reinventing the humble baked bean. One thing many successful start ups have in common is using a loan from Start Up Loans to give their small business the financial boost it needs to succeed – and even help them in entering the BBC’s Dragons’ Den TV show thanks to the network of mentors and advice that comes with the loan.

If you’re looking to transform your brilliant business idea into a commercial reality, these inspirational start ups show how it’s possible to grow quickly. Thanks to hard work, an innovative idea and the support of a loan from the Start Up Loans Company, these small businesses caught the attention of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, helping them gain valuable exposure and launching them into the big leagues.

Masons Beans

Britain is a nation of baked bean lovers. We chomp through more cans of baked beans than the rest of the world combined, and with 1.5m cans of Heinz Baked Beans sold in the UK every day, there is clearly a market for the beloved baked bean.

For founder Ben Mason, a market opportunity arose by adding new flavours to the humble baked bean – such as bacon and mustard – and updating the post-World War 2 classic as a chilled, rather than canned product. His business idea helped him secure a loan for £25,000 from Start Up Loans to launch Masons Beans, allowing him to source suppliers and use fresh ingredients.

With the fledgling business starting up, the loan from Start Up Loans helped Ben develop the business further and get in front of the Dragons’ Den. The Dragons battled over a stake in Ben’s business, with Nick Jenkins investing £50,000 for a 20% stake in the start up.

Masons Beans is breaking into the big league, according to Ben, and its chilled beans are now on sale across the UK, and can be found in the prestigious London stores Selfridges and Fortnum and Masons, as well as being available from Ocado.

Baggers Originals

The children’s clothing market in the UK is booming, with kids’ clothes chalking up over £5.6bn in annual sales.

Now, with kids being as fashion conscious as adults, breaking into the children’s wear market can be challenging – but it was second-time-lucky for mum and daughter entrepreneurs Angela and Jessica McLean who founded Newcastle-based Baggers Originals. Jessica took out a £2,500 loan from Start Up Loans to get the new business off the ground – and ended up being able to turn down a Dragons’ Den offer of investment.

Baggers Originals is based on Angela’s initial business in the 1990s that created children’s rainwear – using the then five-year-old Jessica as a model. Uniquely, the garments fold into one of the pockets to form a carry bag for the clothing that kids can tote around. Following the Start Up Loan investment, Jessica secured an additional £100,000, a spot on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, and a second chance at making the business a success.

Success also saw Baggers Originals star in the BBC programme Be Your Own Boss and the pair were invited to 10 Downing Street, showing how far a loan from Start Up Loans can get your new business. Baggers Originals now sells through Monsoon, Amazon and Fenwick.

Kokoso Baby

When you think of skincare, you probably don’t think about baby skincare – but this gap in the market allowed Warwickshire-based Kokoso Baby to get off the ground.

Founded by husband-and-wife team Lauren and Mark Taylor, Kokoso Baby was launched in 2014 offering all-natural baby skincare products based on the positive skincare benefits of virgin organic coconut oil. Soon after launching, the new business appeared in front of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, securing £50,000 from Touker Suleyman for a 30% stake in the business.

Yet it was a £10,000 loan from the Start Up Loans Company that saw the couple quickly turn their business dreams into reality. And while the loan proved useful in helping to scale the business fulfil orders, it was the support offered by Start Up Loans’ network of mentors and business experts that proved vital.

Since 2014, Kokoso Baby has grown rapidly. It now sells its skincare products for babies through 200 Boots stores across the UK, and other retailers such as JoJo Maman Bébé, as well as via their own online store.

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