James Watt and Martin Dickie applied to appear on the BBC’s hit investment show Dragons Den in 2009, however upon getting through the initial application process, the producers decided they wouldn’t actually appear on the show. The Dragons at the time were Duncan Bannatyne, Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones, and Theo Paphitis, and from the numbers of Watt’s and Dickie’s company now, they missed out big time.
The premise of the TV show Dragons Den is to put entrepreneurs in front of a panel of five judges, who will invest their hard-earned cash into their business if they believe it has potential. The Dragons must invest all of the money the entrepreneurs ask for – but if multiple Dragons want to invest, they can share the investment. The Dragons can also ask for more equity in the entrepreneurs’ business if they believe it’s too risky, or the valuation is wrong.
Watt and Dickie are founders of BrewDog, a craft brewery from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, that has been operating since 2007. They applied to Dragons Den in the hopes of receiving an investment of £100,000 for a 20% stake in their business, however didn’t make it on the show. They completed an initial application, however the produces of Dragons Den – BBC – decided that the two behind BrewDog wouldn’t get the chance to meet the Dragons.
Recalling the rejection from Dragons Den, James Watt said:
“It was a huge kick in the teeth for us at the time and that stinging rejection still burns today. Looking back, despite how much of a setback it was at the time we are actually really happy we got turned down. It forced Martin and I to go back to the drawing board in terms of how to finance our business.
As a result we created a model that lets the people who enjoy our beer own a part of our company. Equity for Punks would not have existed without the Dragons Den rejection.”
In February BrewDog was valued at £1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) – that’s 3,600 times more than their valuation when they wanted to appear on Dragons Den in 2009. If one of the Dragons would have invested the £100,000 for 20% of their company almost nine years ago, that Dragon would be sitting on a staggering £360 million ($486.4 million) now.
Earlier this year Watt announced that BrewDog are opening up a new brewery, restaurant and visitor center in Australia, costing them £17 million. Construction will start at their site in Brisbane, Queensland, later this year, and begin production in 2019. This will be their third brewery – as they have one in Scotland and the US. The new brewery in Brisbane will allow BrewDog to export into Asia and other surrounding markets.
In just nine years, the craft brewery has grown from two employees to approximately 800, and they’ve opened 30 bars in the UK and a further 15 in various countries around the world.