Dragons’ Den reject who designed world’s loudest bicycle horn reaches over £3m in global sales

A company based in Exeter which invented the world’s loudest bicycle horn to increase cyclists’ safety has achieved export sales worth over £1m after a growth of 220% to Australia since 2019.

Hornit’s founder, Tom de Pelet appeared on BBC’s Dragons’ Den in 2015 where the Dragons turned down the chance to support his patented Hornit Bicycle horn.

The company’s success comes as Australia and the UK agreed a free trade deal in June 2021, which is set to boost industries that employ 3.5 million people in the UK.

Tom spent seven years commuting to work in London and realised there was a gap in the market for innovative cycling products. The first product launched was the dB140 – the world’s loudest bike horn which allows cyclists to alert distracted drivers. At 140-decibels, the Hornit can be heard by drivers over the noise of a radio and the sounds of the city.

The company’s growth to the market comes as Australia experienced a boom in cycling activity during 20201, with one survey finding that 63% of respondents increased cycling during COVID-19 restrictions.

The company has been supported by the Department for International Trade (DIT) since 2016 which included introductions to key contacts and support with developing an export strategy.

Tom said: “It is an anomaly that all vehicles have loud horns by law to make road users safer, but cyclists, the most vulnerable, only have a bell. The dB140 changes this and riding in cities is much safer and less stressful as a result.

“We heard that DIT would be able to help with introductions to potential customers in countries all over the world as well as being able to contribute towards the costs of international trade fairs in the Hong Kong, France, and Germany.

“Our growth in the Australian B2C market has been largely supported by DIT and we’ve seen strong growth in just 6 months. The Australian website launched in March 2021 has already generated $50,000 in revenue.”

Australia was the UK’s 20th largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q1 2021, accounting for 1.2% of total UK trade. In 2020, The total value of goods exported from the South West to Australia in 2020 amounted to 238m, accounting for 5.9% of total exports to the market, showing the strong existing demand.

Paul Shand, Head of Trade for DIT in the South West said: “Hornit’s success in Australia demonstrates the strong demand for high-quality UK goods and services overseas and it’s great to see them thriving during a time when cycling and other physical activity have become so important for our mental health.

“The new Free Trade Agreement between the UK and Australia will open even more doors for British exporters, and I look forward to seeing more South West businesses taking advantage of these opportunities.”