We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been asked if we’ve considered going onto the popular TV programme “Dragon’s Den”. We’ve even been approached by the production team……but we’ve decided it’s not for us at the moment. Unlike Adam and Sinead Murphy of Shnuggle, who decided to give it a go and appeared on the show on Sunday (Series 14, Episode 14). They left the den with an offer of investment from maverick Dragon Touker Suleyman.
We first met Adam when our first product, the Omnio Stroller, was finalised alongside one of Shnuggle’s more recent products, the Pebbly Bath Thermometer, for a hotly contested Innovation Award within the nursery industry. The beautiful, tactile Pebbly was beaten on that occasion by our revolutionary wheels, but Adam could not have been more generous towards us despite his disappointment. We spent a number of days together at Harrogate International Nursery Trade Fair – all of us extremely busy as we manned four stands between us – and over the course of many snatched conversations Adam shared the benefit of his years of experience of bringing new products to market. (Sinead was back in Northern Ireland, juggling running their growing business with providing childcare for their young children.)
Both Adam and Sinead have continued to be very supportive of our team as we are trying to break into the most competitive and expensive corner of the nursery, for which we are very grateful. As UK-based parentpreneurs, creating products to solve problems they encountered with their own children, they are obvious role models for us. They are about four years ahead of us! The more time we spend on the industry circuit, the more positive reports we hear from distributors and retailers about the quality of the nursery items that Shnuggle are presenting. They are really well respected as a company and already sell products in many countries. Their products – sleek, modern, useful – fly off the stands when they attend big consumer events in the UK such as The Baby Show. ) The Shnuggle Dreami Moses Basket and the Shnuggle Baby Bath are available and popular from the UK industry giant, John Lewis as well as a number of other well known stores. So why on earth would they need to go onto a TV programme in search of investment?
The truth is, for small but ambitious companies, it is virtually impossible to develop a brand without enormous financial investment in marketing. Without big international orders, you can’t generate the revenue to pay for this marketing. If people haven’t heard of you, it’s a big risk for them to invest. It’s a vicious circle. Adam and Sinead needed to break this cycle in order to expand into the lucrative US market, and decided to explore the option of seeking a “Dragon” – a high profile Angel Investor. They walked away from the television appearance, filmed in June, with Touker’s offer of a £100,000 investment in return for a quarter share of their business. This share would drop to 15% should they meet their target turnover.
To put those numbers into some kind of perspective, £100,000 might pay for a couple of months of intensive digital marketing when launching a new brand.
As it happens, we know that Adam and Sinead have put Suleyman’s offer on hold, although they haven’t ruled out future collaboration with the tycoon. It may well be that Touker Suleyman’s televised flying leap into the Dreami Moses basket (he broke the stand and then became stuck on his back, waving his limbs in the air) will have generated enough awareness of the Shnuggle brand for them not to have to give up 15-25% of equity in order to grow their business. We hope so! We know how many years of dedication have gone into developing and growing the Shnuggle product range. We also know that Adam and Sinead work incredibly hard to support their three young children and half a dozen members of staff.
We personally would like to wish Shnuggle all the very best as they consider all options for raising £500,000 this year – including crowdfunding and other, non-televised, Angel Investor possibilities. It was very exciting to see you on the television on Sunday, and congratulations on slaying your dragon! Having your product broken on Dragon’s Den could be a very good sign, if Trunki are anything to go by…
We look forward to our next meeting but we do promise not to climb into your Dreami…..
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