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Dragons Den - Entrepreneurs In The Line Of Fire - Success Stories and More

Updated on August 30, 2011

Dragons Den Format

Dragons Den is a UK reality show that sees members of the public pitching products and services to 5 successful entrepreneurs who are classed as the Dragons. A percentage of a business is offered in return for the Dragons investment and expertise. The amount of investment must remain the same throughout any negotiations, and a deal can only be done if the full amount requested is met. Percentages offered are often successfully negotiated by the Dragons to a higher amount.

In what started out as a Business programme, Dragons Den soon evolved into an entertainment show due to the characters of not only the Dragons themselves, but the sometimes eccentric and odd people who pitch to them.

The Dragons Den format originated in Japan where it was known as Money No Tora, and has since gone on to be shown in 15 other countries.

The Dragons
The Dragons

The Dragons

Over the course of seven series there have been nine Dragons in total:

Peter Jones: Series 1 - Present

Duncan Bannatyne: Series 1 - Present

Simon Woodroffe: Seies 1

Theo Pathitis: Series 2 - Present

Rachel Elnaugh: Series 1 - 2

Deborah Meaden: Series 3 - Present

Doug Richard: Series 1

Richard Farleigh: Series 3 - 4

James Caan - Series 5 - Present

There has been controversy over two of the Dragons being replaced. First was Rachel Elnaugh who owned Red Letter Days, an events company which specialised in experience gifts such as balloon flights and motor racing. The company went into administration in 2005 and the remaining assets were bought by her fellow Dragons, Peter Jones and Theo Pathitis. The BBC who broadcast Dragons Den deemed that it was inappropriate that a failed business person remain on the panel, and so Rachel Elnaugh was replaced by Deborah Meaden after two series.

Richard Farleigh who joined the show in series three was replaced in 2007. The British newspaper the Daily Mail claimed that this was due to the BBC wanting a Dragon from an ethnic minority to join the show, but this has never been proven. James Caan who replaced Farleigh in series five is however of Pakistani origin. Coincidence or not, we shall probably never know. Farleigh moved from his native Australia to concentrate on filming Dragons Den, so was understandably upset when he was dropped from the show.

Rapstrap - Dragons Den


Levi Roots Sings Reggae, Reggae Sauce On Dragons Den

Dragons Den Success Stories

Some of the people who have pitched to the Dragons and got investment have done very well indeed with their products:

Andrew Harsley, inventor of the Rapstrap; a reusable plastic band that can be used to tie up cables, bin bags and plants, has secured a deal which will net him, James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne, £36 million over the next 3 years. The product may not be sexy, but the payout certainly is!

Imran Hakim invented the iTeddy after a challenge from his brother to see who could create the best new toy for their niece who was approaching her first birthday. Some teddy mutilation and a few wires later, a prototype was in existence. Peter Jones and Theo Pathitis invested £160K in the toy which is now being sold around the globe. The trio also have a multi miliion pound deal with Argos in the UK.

Levi Roots is possibly the most famous of success stories. After getting the Dragons attention by walking into the den with a guitar, and proceeding to sing his Reggae, Reggae Sauce song, he secured a £50K investment from Peter Jones. Levi Roots was a musician who sold his Reggae, Reggae Sauce at Brixton Market and the Notting Hill Carnival as a supplement to his income. He learnt how to make the passed down sauce recipe from his grandmother in Jamaica and would make batches up in his kitchen to sell. Levi Roots has since gone on to launch more sauces and food products and has his own restaurant and cookbook. His business is estimated to be worth £8 million.

How does Reggae, Reggae Sauce taste? As a big fan of hot sauces I can tell you that it's delicious, Levi Roots sure knows how to cook hot stuff!

The 'Look I'm Single!' Products

Dragons Den Fun

One of the things that takes Dragons Den from being just a business programme into entertainment, is the oddballs that pitch to the Dragons. Sometimes they aren't even oddballs, they are seemingly good business people, but with ridiculous products!

Have you ever watched a home shopping channel or an infomercial and wondered who the hell would need, let alone buy one of those?! Well that's the kind of stuff that crops up on Dragons Den time and time again.

The Current Dragons Backgrounds

Of the current Dragons, none of them were born into mega money, but all have accomplished self made millionaire status.

Peter Jones' career began as a tennis instructor, opening his own academy at 16. He then went onto manufacture computers under his own brand and invested into a cocktail bar based on the Tom Cruise film. Both the computer company and cocktail bar had difficulties, and in his late twenties he had to give up his house and cars and move back into his parents home. At 28, Peter Jones joined the telecommunications industry and once again built up a fortune from scratch.

Duncan Bannatyne's business career began at 29 when he bought a used ice cream van for £450. The business expanded with more vans and was sold £28K. Bannatyne then went into the nursing home and childcare sectors. He now makes his money from health clubs, hotels, bars and property.

Deborah Meaden's career began when she moved to Italy and set up a glass and ceramics export company. The company only lasted for 18 months. Meaden then spent a brief spell in the textiles industry before joining her parents leisure company who built caravan and camping holiday parks. Deborah Meaden became managing director of the company when her parents retired and later sold the business for multi million pounds.

James Caan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and moved to the Brick Lane area of East London in 1960. In the area known for it's leather shops, the young James Caan worked for his father selling clothes. At 16, Caan decided to leave school and start his own business. Caan has been involved in recruitment and private equity. The actor James Caan inspired his name change from Nazim Khan.

Theo Pathitis was born in Limassol, Cyprus and came to England with his family when he was 6 years old. At 15 he was running his school's tuck shop. He then went on to be a tea boy and filing clerk at a London Insurance broker's. Pathitis' passion was for sales and retail and he went to work as a sales assistance for Watches Of Switzerland in London's Bond Street. He went on to buy lingerie businesses La Senza and Contessa, stationers Rymans, and experience gifts company Red Letter Days.

Dragons On Twitter

Duncan Bannatyne -

Peter Jones -

Theo Pathitis -

James Caan - (James has announced as of January 2011 that he is leaving the show due to other work commitments)

Deborah Meaden - Doesn't have a Twitter Account

Dragons Den Comments

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    • william.fischer29 profile image

      william.fischer29 6 years ago

      Great hub.

    • profile image

      Amina D. 7 years ago

      i Love watching the dragons den, my favourite show, gives me good ideas and i learn a lot from it. I run a sauce company that is very successful, i focus on ethnic flavours ie: sahara sauce(northern africa) pili sauce ( sweet chillies and tamarind(eritrea,sudan and somalia) congo flavours ( DRC,CAR,Gabon) and a few others.

      I hope we can start such a show in my continent so that pple like me can benefit!


    • Property-Invest profile image

      Property-Invest 7 years ago from London

      Thanks for the great hub. I can't believe how badly prepared most people are when they go on the programme. Just shows that most "business people" are actually not business people.

    • profile image 7 years ago

      Does anyone have transcripts available of the TV show the Dragons' Den? I am a student which is writing his thesis and for which he needs the transcripts. Could you send it to ? Thanks

    • Jennifer D. profile image

      Jennifer D. 8 years ago from Canada

      Nice hub on a fascinating television show. I never knew that Peter and Theo were on Top Gear! Cool.

    • profile image

      KellyEngaldo 8 years ago

      Great hub! Loads of information for this American. Love the use of the video - gave me a front row seat. Successes and failures of entrepreneurs and inventors are fascinating. I wish they would distinguish between an entrepreneur and an inventor - there is big difference in the risk level.

    • profile image

      khoustello 8 years ago from lancashire