Thursday, July 21, 2016
The £200million Dragon's Den reject
The £200million Dragon's Den reject: Yes, that's the hair-raising worth of the detangling brush inventor who was told to get knotted (and who will now be five times richer than judge who said: 'I'm out')
• Rejected Tangle Teezer idea now worth £200million in business deal
• BBC show's judges rejected him, describing the idea as ‘hair-brained’
• Inventor Shaun Pulfrey said of 2007 bid: 'I didn’t feel they heard me out’
They built their reputations and fortunes by combing through investment proposals to spot money-spinning opportunities.
But the Dragons’ Den moguls will be shocked to discover that a former hairdresser who invented a detangling brush is set to sell his business for £200 million – after they told him to get knotted when he first pitched the idea to them.
Entrepreneur Shaun Pulfrey braved the notoriously high-pressure environment of the Den in a bid to raise £80,000 in exchange for a 15 per cent share in his young company, called Tangle Teezer.
Shaun Pulfrey didn't manage to tame the Dragons with his detangling brush 'The Tangle Teezer' in the Den when he appeared on the show in 2007. But now he is worth a fortune
The Tangle Teezer - originally rejected by Dragon's Den judges is now set to make a fortune for owner Shaun Pulfrey if a £200m business deal goes through
The then Dragons – Deborah Meaden, Theo Paphitis, Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan – listened patiently to his pitch on the BBC2 show.
But when it came to putting their hands in their very deep pockets, they responded unanimously: ‘I’m out!’
Mr Jones went so far as to tell Mr Pulfrey his brush scheme was ‘hair-brained’; Mr Caan called it ‘a waste of time’; and Ms Meaden dismissed his product saying it was like a ‘horse brush’.
Ironically, if the £200 million deal goes through as expected it will make Mr Pulfrey five times richer than Ms Meaden, who has an estimated wealth of £40 million.
It will also make Tangle Teezer one of the most ‘successful failures’ in the hit programme’s history.
Mr Pulfrey had been nagged by a friend into entering Dragons’ Den in 2007. Despite facing five fearsome Dragons he felt confident because he believed that he had a decent idea.
Importantly, he also had a serious business plan having raised £98,000 from his savings from working as a hair salon colourist and by remortgaging his London flat.
He stressed it was not just about the financial investment, it was also the prospect of the extensive fringe benefits of getting a high-profile Dragon on board.
But in the event his bid for backing from the Dragons proved to be unsuccessful.
He recalled: ‘Deborah Meaden gave me a really hard time saying it was like a horse brush, but before I could argue with her the next comments were coming from another direction.
‘I wasn’t disappointed about not getting the money because I can get that from a bank.
‘But I wanted a Dragon to take it to the consumer global market and I didn’t feel they heard me out.’
Mr Pulfrey left the Den empty-handed, but that did not stop him pursuing his dream.
In the nine years since his rejection, he has built a business which exports 13 brushes a minute to 60 countries around the world and has been endorsed by a host of celebrities, including X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger.
It was reported earlier this year that the business was set to sell for £100 million, but because Brexit has brought down the value of the pound and so boosted overseas sales, investors could now be prepared to pay twice that.
And as Mr Pulfrey is the sole shareholder in the British firm he will be the one enjoying the profit.
Several British private equity firms, including Exponent, Inflexion and Bridgepoint, have been participating in the sale process but it is unclear who is still in the running to buy Tangle Teezer.
Investment bankers from American firm Baird have been appointed to find a buyer.
City sources have told The Mail on Sunday that the company has received takeover offers of up to £200 million.
The Tangle Teezer auction process is now understood to be entering the final stages and a deal could be announced shortly.
Ben Harrington and Stephanie Condron