Posted by BlindsInABox on 18/02/2014
Her second was to say, “No way”, fearing that an appearance on the show might turn her business into just another casualty of the Dragons’ caustic grilling.
In the case of Mrs Salik, Mr Lawrence and their third partner, Janice Dalton, 52, that product is temporary window blinds, and their company, Blinds in a Box, had been trading for around a year when they went before the Dragons last September.
The idea came about when Mrs Salik, a grandmother of eight, needed temporary window coverings for her house in London’s Mill Hill. She had ordered bespoke curtains from Mrs Dalton, who runs an interior design business nearby, but didn’t want to leave her windows bare while awaiting for delivery. She could not find anything suitable in the UK and eventually had to order temporary blinds from an American supplier. This, she concluded, was a clear gap in the market.
She and Mrs Dalton decided that, with their combined skills in PR and design, they would make a good team, but they lacked any experience in manufacturing and importing, which is where Mr Lawrence comes in. “We make an unusual but effective triumvurate,” he said.
Despite a confident, well-rehearsed pitch in front of the Dragons, three of the five investors declared themselves “out” early on. But then James Caan declared an interest, offering the full £40,000 for 50pc of the business. Duncan Bannatyne then suggested splitting the investment with Mr Caan and hey, presto, Blinds in a Box had two new directors.
“We reckoned that half of a company backed by these two experienced businessmen was worth more than 100pc of a brand without their backing,” said Mr Lawrence. And part of the deal is that, if the business reaches its targets over the next three years, the Dragons will give 10pc of the equity back to the founders – something they are confident they can achieve.
Until recently, sales were mainly direct to the public through the company’s website, but then the credibility lent to the product through their association with the Dragons was put to the test when Argos were approached to stock the blackout blinds. A big order was won in exchange for an introductory period of exclusivity. With that period due to end soon, the team have the big DIY chains and department stores in their sights. They are also looking at developing a fire-retardant version of the blinds for sale to the health and educational services.
“What the endorsement of the Dragons has done is to open doors that would otherwise have remained closed to us,” said Mrs Salik.