Thursday, July 21, 2016
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
Sunday, July 17, 2016
For Kieran Behan, the fact that he is able to look forward to his second Olympic Games is little short of miraculous. Born in London to a father from Dublin and a mother from Monaghan, the gymnast who has partnered with Team Ireland, is an athlete who will carry the nation's hopes in Rio. But Kieran's greatest challenge came when he was just 10 years old.
A benign tumour in his leg left the young Kieran confined to a wheelchair. However, he defied the odds and was able to return to training until, 15 months later, tragedy struck when he suffered a fall and a brain injury that affected his balance and co-ordination. The young gymnast was told he would never walk again, much less compete.
But Kieran Behan is a fighter, and an embodiment of – 'The Power Within'. Not only did he return to gymnastics, he went on to prove himself at the elite level. In 2012, Kieran qualified for the Olympics through a 4th place finish at the London test event, making him only the second Irish gymnast ever to qualify for the Games.
He's described his feat as "a miracle", and although his Games didn't go as well as he had hoped – he was unable to qualify for the individual all-around, or any of the event finals – London went down as an important learning experience and a source of immense personal pride. "I'm proud of proving myself as the athlete I am," he says. "From twice being told that I was never going to walk again to competing at the highest level, and seeing how happy my family and the people around me are."
However, it hasn't all been smooth sailing since. After London, Kieran was hit by another setback. His troublesome left knee flared up again and he was forced to undergo surgery on it for the fifth time in his life. With surgery came missed competitions, weight gain and a lot of soul-searching, and Kieran admits that that period of his life put him at his lowest ebb – but he didn't let it beat him.
"That was the closest I've ever come to quitting," he says. "I was struggling – being injured, financially, everything. But then I sat down and said to myself: 'You've been through a lot worse, you're made of strong stuff, let's go for it'."
Go for it, he did – and then some. Kieran went on to show immense resolve yet again on the road to Rio. In April, he qualified for his second Olympic Games with a highly creditable fourth-place finish at the Aquece Rio final gymnastics qualifier, and a score of 14.966 in the floor apparatus final.
It was vindication not only of Kieran's talent – which has never been in doubt – but also his relentlessly positive attitude and the drive and determination that has seen him overcome every obstacle that has been put in his way.
"If you've had adversity in life," he says, "you're going to be mentally stronger and have more resilience if you can flip a negative into a positive. That's something that I try to live by. When I hit a low point in my career, I pull from my experiences in the past and say, 'Right, let's look at the next goal that you can overcome'."
With everything he has been through, it's tempting to suggest that Kieran Behan already won. But that's not his mentality. The next goal is Rio 2016. It's time for another fight.