Finance · 13 August 2018

Peter Jones hands “real life Slumdog Millionaire” £100,000 as new Dragons’ Den kicks off

Rupesh and Alexandra Thomas sold investor Peter Jones a 33.3% stake in their business | Picture: BBC

As Dragons’ Den returned to BBC Two screens last night, viewers were treated to warm scenes as Peter Jones invested £100,000 into an iced tea brand with humble beginnings.

Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and Touker Suleyman were joined by Jenny Campbell and Tej Lalvani for the first episode of season 16 of the long-running BBC Two investing show.

Read more about the new Dragons’ Den investors

Viewers watched Yosi Romano and Ziv Leinwand pitch their pram and buggy anti-pollution device, requesting £100,000 for a 5% stake in the business, before the pair clashed with the panel after refusing to disclose the name of a retailer supposedly interested in their product.

After Suleyman eventually secured a 25% stake, Rupesh and Alexandra Thomas, founders of Tuk Tuk Chai, entered with an unusual story.

Rupesh originally came to England from southern India with just £600 to his name, and now oversees a £2m chai tea business stocked in a number of leading retailers.

Rupesh and Alexandra Thomas met as students in London in 2002

Business Advice first met the husband and wife team in summer 2017, when they spoke about investing £100,000 of their own money into their business and had just launched Tuk Tuk Chai in Harvey Nichols.

“I really am a real life Slumdog Millionaire,” Rupesh told the investors. “I am proof that if you work hard, you will be successful.”

The couple had viewers on the edge of their seats when Meaden pressed them to reveal the cost price agreed with Sainsbury’s for their product.

Rupesh eventually gambled and told the investors he was selling each unit for £1 – below their own £1.03 cost price.

The co-founders watched four Dragons drop out as news of their profit loss was too much to bear, but one wasn’t quite finished.

Jessops chief executive Jones was so taken with the brand, its story and high street potential that he offered £100,000 for a 33.3% stake in the business.

Read more Dragons’ Den content:

In an official blog post following the episode, Rebecca Trussell, from the government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), confessed she was biting her nails as the company’s profit loss saw four Dragons drop out.

Following Jones’ offer for a third stake, Trussell offered some IP advice for entrepreneurs worried about disclosing confidential information.

“It’s a good idea to get an IP attorney or solicitor to advise on confidentiality and draw up an appropriate NDA for you to use. A contract with clear agreements in place can give business owners peace of mind that both parties know what they can and can’t talk about in the public domain,” she said.

With many social media users initially shocked at the revelation Sainsbury’s had paid under cost price for the tea, the founders used Twitter to defend the retailer.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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