From bacon butties to amassing a fortune – How Dragons’ Den backed entrepreneur achieved success

Interview

DaykinJordan Daykin has had an incredible rise in business over the past few years. At just 18, Daykin, appeared on the BBC TV show Dragons’ Den with Gripit Fixings, securing an investment from Deborah Meaden of £80,000 in return for a 25% stake.

BLM caught up with Daykin to talk Dragons’ Den, if he thinks Gripit would be where it is today without the show and his recent £5m investment in the VPS Group.

For those who aren’t sure, please tell us about your success story. 

I invented Gripit back in 2008, basically me and my Grandad were trying to fit a curtain rail to a plasterboard wall and no fixing would catch, so we invented what is now Gripit.

I applied for a patent to get it protected and then over four years developed the product and got it to market in November 2012. From that, we got our first order from Screwfix. They came on board January 2013 and its snowballed from there. We went from being in no stores to over 500 in the first year and then we applied for Dragons’ Den, which was in 2014.

After that we’ve been listed in thousands of stores around the UK, exporting to 32 countries worldwide.

Do you believe you could have gone to market if you hadn’t gone on Dragons’ Den?

We’d have got there eventually in the end, but the benefit of Dragons’ Den has sped the process up. You gain contacts, a lot of publicity and the knowledge.

How did you get the message out there about Gripit before stepping into Dragons’ Den?

We had a lot of product samples, we sent them out with leaflets to retailers and then I would go around with my fiancé and do breakfast morning outside of stores. We would set up a gazebo with free bacon sandwiches so retailers and customers could get a demo of Gripit.

How important has the role marketing and PR played to your business success?

Quite heavily. Especially in the early days. Following on from Dragons’ Den it was a good two years of a PR whirlwind and that boosted the awareness of Gripit as a brand. There’s been a long slog behind that, people knew us as a brand, but it’s now a case of showing people why they need to use Gripit, and that’s where we invested over £1m in marketing to do TV, radio advertisements, to drive awareness of the product.

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced so far in business or life, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest obstacle has been building the right structure and gaining the right staff around me. It’s difficult, because it’s your business, to try and find people which have the same enthusiasm as you have. At the end of 2016 we had five staff and now we have 47, so to go to that number in around 14 months is challenging but we’ve come out the other end. Everyone is working towards the same goal.

How hard has it been to delegate roles in the business to other people?

I’d say that’s part of the reason that it’s tough building a team. You’ve got to let go and delegate otherwise you’d never have any time. If you find the right people you can trust then you can let go.

You mentioned about the company growing so rapidly, are there any specifics you could share?

When I was on Dragons’ Den we turned over £80,000, that was in 2014, and we’ve grown three folds year-on-year. This year we’ll do turnover of more than £4m. It’s quite fast growth in such a short space of time.

What do you think it takes to be a success in business?

It’s a case of not giving up. No matter how many knockbacks you take you’ve got to keep going because not everything will work, but you will find a route which will work. So many people fall at the first hurdle, but you can’t. The key is to keep going.

Any advice to entrepreneurs?

For those going on Dragons’ Den, just prepare and know your numbers. You see so many people on there who crumble when they forget a number. You also need to get your pitch right and keep it simple so you don’t over-complicate things half way and forget. In terms of starting a business I’d say over-prepare for any eventuality, you’ve got to think of all the options and think about all the results and scenarios. Nothing ever goes to plan.

You recently made a £5m investment in automotive supplier VPS Group, can you talk to us about that?

VPS Group was actually my Dad’s business, he started it back in 2004, and it supplies labour to vehicle manufacturers at port of entry. Over the last two years I was involved at a board level and trying to diversify the business. The company manufactures and supplies number plates all from the UK.  

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