An entrepreneur who was rejected for investment for his plastic-free chewing gum after appearing on Dragon’s Den has seen his business take off.
Keir Carnie appeared before the business tycoons on the BBC Two show which aired last night and asked for £50,000 in his plant-based peppermint Nuud gum.
But despite impressing the dragons with his ‘actor like’ impressive pitch, he failed to win investment for the product which he ploughed his life-savings of £20k into.
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.”
Dragon Deborah Meaden was impressed by Keir’s drive to make chewing gum containing plastic “as socially unacceptable as plastic straws”.
And regular gum chewer, enjoyed the Nuud sample he was offered, describing it as “just like normal gum”.
And Keir continued to show he’d done his homework when asked about the valuation 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.”
Dragons Tej and Touker Suleman were wowed by Keir’s natural delivery but failed to be convinced about the numbers behind the product which they said is a ‘low-value product’ meaning he would have to ‘sell a lot of gum to get going’.
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.”
Touker added: “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.”
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”.
And since the show’s filming Keir has gone on to secure supermarket Waitrose’s 260 stores across the UK to add to his existing distribution platforms including Nisa and Costcutter.
Keir remain optimistic about the future despite the lack of investment from the Dragons adding: “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.
“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.”