By Jo Berry.
The Dragons’ Den is open for business once more, as a new set of brave – or perhaps, foolhardy – entrepreneurs step out of that forbidding elevator and pitch their best ideas to the businessmen and women who make up the formidable Dragons.
While many of us wouldn’t have the nerve to present our business ideas and inventions to Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman, Tej Lalvani and Sara Davies, plenty of people have faced down the Dragons and walked away with substantial investments.
Since the show began in 2005, over 1000 entrepreneurs have entered the Den, and the 18 Dragons who have appeared over the years have made 276 deals between them and pledged over £22 million in investments.
Success stories include Levi Roots, who appeared on the show in 2007 and sold a 40 per cent stake in his Reggae Reggae sauce company to Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh for £50,000. Roots is now worth an estimated £30 million and his sauce is stocked in supermarkets throughout the UK.
Husband and wife Neil and Laura Westwood were also a big hit after appearing in the Den in 2008 with their invention – a portable, roll-up whiteboard that attaches to multiple surfaces. Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis ignored Peter Jones (who thought it was ‘ridiculous’) and invested £100,000, and the Magic Whiteboard is now used in schools and stocked in stationary supply store Rymans and supermarkets.
The new season – series 18 – was filmed during 2020 under government guidelines for productions during the pandemic. Thanks to its success – series 17 boasted a peak of 3.4 million viewers – Dragons’ Den also moves from BBC Two to BBC One this year.
Dragons’ Den 2021 release date
Dragons’ Den series 18 begins on Thursday, 1st April at 8pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
Who are the Dragons on Dragons’ Den 2021?
Last season’s Dragons are all returning and they are:
Peter is the longest-serving Dragon, and at six feet seven inches, the tallest, too! He has an impressive history as an entrepreneur, having started his first business as a teenager when he opened his own tennis academy in Windsor. A father of five, he went on to run a computer business, and then founded Phones International Group in 1998. Peter now has an investment group that employs more than 1000 people, and he launched the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy colleges for students in 2009.
Deborah has been in the Den since season three. A supporter of environmental charities and initiatives, she is a fellow of the World Wildlife Fund and acts as a patron for Tusk Trust. The successful businesswoman got her start at the age of 19 when she launched her own glass and ceramics import company, and she has since worked in the leisure and retail sector, and invested in projects including Grip It, the world’s strongest plasterboard fixings. Deborah lives in London and Somerset, with her husband Paul and two cats, three dogs, six horses, sheep and geese.
Touker was born in Famagusta in Cyprus in 1953, and moved to London with his family when he was five. After helping out at his family’s restaurant in Camberwell from a young age, his first job was at a chartered accountancy firm, but his career took off when he went into partnership with a clothing manufacturer and formed Kingsland Models, which supplied fashion to stores including Dorothy Perkins and Top Shop. In recent years, his company has bought fashion labels Hawes & Curtis and Ghost. The father of two has been a Dragon since 2015.
This is Tej’s final season, as he decided to leave the show to concentrate more on his family and various businesses. He is the CEO of Vitabiotics, the UK’s largest vitamin company, which was founded by his father in 1971. Tej was involved in the business from an early age, studying pharmaceutical science in London, Germany and India before working in each department at Vitabiotics to learn about the company. In his spare time, Tej writes music and plays the drums, keyboard and guitar.
The youngest of the Dragons, Sara Davies is the founder of Crafter’s Companion, a crafter’s supply company that she launched whilst still at university in 2005. Born in County Durham, she attended the University of York where she earned a first class business degree, and following her entrepreneurial success, she was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to the economy. Sarah joined Dragons’ Den in 2019. She lives in Teeside with her husband and two children.
What happened on the last series of Dragons’ Den?
The last season featured a total of 27 investments by the Dragons, who pledged almost £2 million as investments.
Brave entrepreneurs who entered the Dragons’ Den and scored successes included Will Chew, with his Mak Tok Chilli paste, Daniel Gray with War Paint, a range of make up for men, and Richard Clark and Paul Briscoe with Drynks Unlimited, their alcohol-free drinks.
Best of all has to be Tom Keen and his alternative toilet cleaner Flush Brush, which apparently avoids dripping ‘toilet juices’ (a phrase which should now be adopted as an euphemism in everyday life) as the brush is stored directly in your toilet.