Kenilworth entrepreneur secures Dragons’ Den deal worth £50,000

David Kendall pitching Slappie watches to the Dragons. Copyright BBC
David Kendall pitching Slappie watches to the Dragons. Copyright BBC
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A Kenilworth entrepreneur who recently appeared on hit BBC show Dragons’ Den managed to walk away with a lucrative deal worth £50,000 after pitching his wrap-around watch business to the five dragons.

David Kendall, who acquired the Slappie watch business just over a year ago, secured an investment from dragon Neil Jenkins, who sold greetings card website Moonpig for £120 million in 2011 and has invested in a variety of start-up companies since then.

David Kendall prepares to face the Dragons. Copyright BBC

David Kendall prepares to face the Dragons. Copyright BBC

David had only been running Slappie, which is registered in Leamington, for a couple of weeks when he opted to try and appear on Dragons’ Den.

He said: “I bought Slappie because I wanted to challenge myself. I liked the product and felt it had potential. If I could get the brand right than I could inject some longevity into it.

“But I really didn’t have the first idea about where to go from there, so I decided to apply for Dragons’ Den.”

He had to undergo a gruelling auditioning process involving three separate stages until he was eventually accepted to appear on the show, which was filmed in April last year and was broadcast on Sunday January 31.

It’s as much about the person as it is about the product - I backed myself because I knew I had the right values.

David Kendall

When asked if he was confident about securing an investment, David said: “I was confident that I’d benefit on a personal level. I’m all about trusting myself.

“It’s as much about the person than it is about the product - I backed myself because I knew I had the right values.”

David appeared first during the episode. He initially wanted £50,000 for a 25 per cent share in Slappie, which manufactures a variety of colourful plastic watches which wrap around and snap onto the wrist and have interchangeable faces. He also revealed Slappie owed himself £107,000.

Although not impressing all of the dragons, David’s pitch resonated with Mr Jenkins and fashion entrepreneur Touker Suleyman, who both offered him the full amount but for 45 per cent of the business. However, Mr Suleyman wanted the £107,000 debt written off.

Once he had the offers, David asked the pair: “Can I have a chat with the wall for two minutes?” before accepting Mr Jenkins’ offer because of his online connections and his simpler solution to the debt.

Since the episode was broadcast, David has said that sales of Slappie watches have skyrocketed and major retialers have been in touch with him.

He now hopes to capitalise on the exposure the show has given his business. However, he insisted the experience would have helped him even if he had failed to secure an investment.

He said: “To be honest, it wasn’t really about the money - I could have gone to the bank and asked for £50,000. It was about the experience, the publicity, and having somebody of Nick’s calibre on board.

“45 per cent is a lot to give away but to retain 55 per cent with the benefit of a Dragon on board makes commercial sense to me.”

David talks with Mr Jenkins around once a month, but speaks with Jenkins’ investment manager almost every day.

The main work done with Mr Jenkins since April was to prepare the business for the extra demand when the episode came out.