BLM talks to former Dragon’s Den contestant Jordan Daykin about his business, GripIt Fixings and the investment he received from Deborah Meaden.
Jordan, can you give us a bit of background on GripIt Fixings?
“I came up with the idea of GripIt in 2008 with my grandad, while having difficulty putting up some curtain rails.
“After developing a solution, and following months of testing and applying for a patent, I took the product onto Dragon’s Den where I received financial backing from Deborah.
“Our product is now sold in 3,000 stores across the UK, including Wickes, Screwfix and Currys, and we’ve just secured a £30m deal in the US to sell our products through Home Depot, Lowes and Ace Hardware.”
How was your experience with the dragons?
“Nerve-wracking! I arrived at 7am and was there for the whole day. You didn’t have any preparation or warning; someone would come over and say “You’re up.” And that was that.
“I was face to face with the Dragons for an hour and a half, but they only showed 15 minutes.”
Was going into business something you always wanted to do? Did you show any entrepreneurial qualities from a young age?
“I originally wanted to be a doctor or accountant. When the swine flu epidemic hit I bought anti-bacterial hand gel from a supermarket for pence and sold this to kids at school for £3.
“I ended up leaving school at 13 with no GCSE’s. Just because you don’t get the grades it isn’t the end of the world. Success is working hard; nothing has ever been handed to me on a plate.”
What are the main challenges entrepreneurs face and how have you overcome these?
“Experience. It’s worth seeing if you can take unpaid internships at companies to gain experience. You need to be a quick learner and have a willingness to learn and be able to take criticism.”
Do you feel there are advantages to being a young entrepreneur?
“You have more time to get where you need to be. You can start at the bottom and work your way up. Also, in my experience, employing young people means you can train them how you want.”
What advice would you offer to budding entrepreneurs?
“Learn from others. It might sound clichéd and corny but I read a lot of business books and autobiographies of successful business people.
“I was most interested in the failures as well as the successes. I read about business people who had gained success, lost it and rebuilt it from nothing, learning from their mistakes as they went.”
Do you feel there are enough educational opportunities and support available for young people who want to get into business?
“I think the support is there but people don’t know about it, so it’s something to raise awareness around. Apprenticeships are great, but people are put off by apprentice salaries so it’s about striking a balance.”
Which business person(s) inspire you the most?
“Sir Richard Branson and Duncan Bannatyne. Anyone who’s been through the good and the bad – the people who had a high net worth, lost it, then regained it. I look at their business success and failures and make sure I learn from their mistakes.”