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Trio who appeared on Dragon's Den tell of busy time ahead
Three former students from a Bushey school have been thrust into the limelight after securing a £120,000 investment on television show Dragon’s Den.
Lewis Blitz, James Gold and Richard Gold, all of whom previously attended Immanuel College in Elstree Road, pitched their accessories business to dragons Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Hilary Devey, Duncan Banatyne and Theo Paphitis.
The graduates initially asked for a £120,000 investment in exchange for ten per cent of their company Skinnydip, which was conceived two years ago and combines fashion and technology with its range of accessories that include smartphone covers and headphones.
James Gold said: "We came up with the idea shortly after Lewis got one of the first iPhones.
"He noticed that all of the accessories were boring and grey, there weren’t any real options.
"All of the brands were producing exactly the same thing. We wanted to create something stylish, we wanted to give people options.
"Then we hit upon the idea of supplying shops where people do their clothes or grocery shopping - something other brands weren’t tapping into, a niche.
"We were all working at the time, and decided to put in as much cash as we could spare into the business including savings, which was about £45,000. This funded our first order.
"After securing some more orders, our next step was to appear on Dragon’s Den. Not only were we looking for an investment, but also business acumen from any of the Dragons, who are arguably some of the best business people in the country - something money really can’t buy."
Bushey resident Lewis Blitz delivered the opening pitch on the show in September, impressing the Dragons with a valuation of Skinnydip at £1.2million, an estimated turnover of £3.3million by 2014, and no debts.
But Peter Jones was initially distracted by one business partner in particular - James, who was inadvertently miming Lewis’s speech.
The 25-year-old said: "I learnt the whole pitch in case Lewis or Richard couldn’t remember it and I could stand in and do it.
"I was so embarrassed that I’d made such a fool of myself. But, it did act as an icebreaker. We were all so nervous when we got in there; it was a very real situation. I thought there would be more theatre, but we were faced with five business brains who just glared and a rolling camera.
"Then, when Peter Jones pointed out my miming, we all fell about laughing. Who knows, maybe that helped seal the deal."
The trio rejected offers from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis, but accepted Mr Jones’ offer of £120,000 in exchange for 30 per cent of the company, before he would "drop down and become an equal partner" once he retrieved his initial investment.
James added: "We’re looking to expand the business and we’ve new product lines coming out - so it’s going to be a busy next few years for all of us.
"Although all the Dragons are inspiring, we definitely went with the right one, his expertise and support has been invaluable. It’s meant the world to us.
Skinnydip currently supplies to 13 major retailers in the country, including Harvey Nichols, Debenhams, Next, Republic, River Island and Tesco.