Experience leaves entrepreneurs questioning ‘is the Den past its ‘best-before-date’?’
Two Yorkshire business men have joined the ranks of the country’s most successful Den rejects after the Dragons turned down the opportunity to back their budding online-only discount retail store Approved Food, which went on to receive more than double the investment elsewhere.
Despite positive feedback on the Dragons Den episode, which aired on Sunday, February 8, from both Jones and Linney – who bought in to the concept of the business – after a gruelling two hour session in the infamous warehouse all of the Dragons declared they were ‘out’.
But the lack of backing didn’t keep Approved Food founder and director Dan Cluderay and fellow Director Andy Needham down for long, with the business securing in excess of £400,000 from investors in and around Yorkshire since the show was filmed in May last year, resulting in impressive growth and expansion.
Now the UK’s largest online-only discount retailer, in 2014 www.approvedfood.co.uk shipped around 115,000 orders to tens of thousands of people across the country – resulting in a combined saving of more than £8.1million for its customers.
A unique business model that specialises in short-dated and residual stock food and drinks products sourced directly from manufacturers and wholesalers; despite being told by one Dragon that they should consider rebranding to ‘Old Food’, the experience has left entrepreneur Dan wondering if it is the Den that is ‘past its best-before-date’.
He said: “The Den was an interesting experience, and I am glad to have done it, but we went in asking for a £150k investment for a 10 per cent stake in our businesses and it was quickly apparent that the Dragons simply didn’t get what we were about.
“At one point we were criticised for having too low profit margins, but that is exactly what Approved Food is built on – value and convenience for our customers who are our priority. Looking back, talking to multimillionaires about saving a few quid on their weekly shop was perhaps a bit naive.”
Since Dan’s Den experience the Yorkshire born ex-market trader says the business has gone from strength to strength, with external investment totalling in excess of £400k resulting in the launch of two new brands, as well as the expansion of the company warehouse and workforce.
“In September we moved in to our new premises,” he said. “We introduced a totally new operating system, recruited more staff, launched two new brands and saw record sales all within a matter of weeks.
“We’re delighted by the investment we have received since filming took place, which has enabled us to expand our offering whilst maintaining our core values. I’m particularly pleased that we’ve been recognised as very scalable businesses that has capacity to grow even further – particularly in light of today’s consumer market and its needs.”