Home News Bristol man rejected on Dragons’ Den goes on to big success

Bristol man rejected on Dragons’ Den goes on to big success

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An entrepreneur from Bristol appears to be well on his way to proving the Dragons’ Den tycoons wrong.

Keir Carnie’s appearance on the BBC Two show was aired last night (July 8), seeking £50,000 for 10 per cent equity in his plastic-free chewing gum Nuud.

The 33-year-old had invested his entire £20,000 life savings into a business he built in his bedroom — and the Dragons were impressed by his presentation, even though he failed to win investment.

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In his pitch, he said: “Did you know that every piece of regular chewing gum contains the same amount of plastic as a plastic straw? Yet while plastic straws are banned, chewing gum waste goes practically unnoticed.”

Deborah Meaden appeared shocked by the revelation and impressed by Keir’s ambition to make chewing gum containing plastic “as socially unacceptable as plastic straws”.

And Tej Lalvani, a regular gum chewer, enjoyed the Nuud sample he was offered, describing it as “just like normal gum”.

When Sara Davies questioned the valuation, Keir answered by drawing on his experience as a business development manager at Heineken.

He said: “I would relate this to the craft beer boom and Heineken was slow to react to that boom. What they ended up doing five, six seven years later, was investing in market-leading disruptors that had showed more adaptability to changing consumer trends.

“They came in and paid massively over the odds for these craft beer brands.”

A wowed Tej chipped in: “I think you’re fantastic. In fact I haven’t heard a better answer from someone trying to justify a high valuation.”

There was also praise from Touker Suleyman, who said: “You come across very credible. You’re like an actor who’s got the script and you’re ‘punch, punch, punch’. Can’t fault you.”

But he added: “So far the only thing that looks credible is you. This is a very low-value product. You’ve got to sell a lot of chewing gum to even get going. So all you can go for is margin and low cost.”

When Keir said his forecasted profit margin was 37 or 38 per cent, Touker described this as “quite low” and told Keir he had come to the Den with the “wrong business”.

Deborah said she “loved” what Keir was doing but was put off investing by fears the market’s big players would adapt to be plastic-free and ruin Nuud’s prospects.

Before Keir left without a bid, Tej told him: “You’ve ticked a lot of boxes here. You’re in the right space at the right time and I think you are the right person to run this business.”

He advised Keir to start selling in more retailers and get Nuud’s margins down, urging him not to be disheartened but adding the business was “probably not investable at the moment”.

In the time since filming, Keir has secured a significant deal for the business. During the episode he mentioned Nuud was being sold in Nisa and Costcutter — but now it is available in Waitrose.

In a report last month, The Mirror described Nuud gum — which is sold for £1.50 — as a £100,000 business. The plant-based peppermint gum can be bought in more than 260 Waitrose stores across the UK.

Keir said the deal was a “high” after biding his time during the early stages of the pandemic, when gum purchases were down.

He launched the firm’s website in March 2021 and it has since “grown from strength to strength”, The Mirror reported.

“I’m really proud of Nuud’s success so far but it’s still early days and we have huge ambitions to effect positive change within a category that causes such significant litter and environmental problems that currently go unchecked,” Keir said.

“We will continue to shine a light on this and campaign for ingredient transparency to empower consumers to make an informed choice on what they chew.”

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