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Which Dragon is most likely to invest in a business?

Duncan Bannatyne Duncan Bannatyne

Small Business Prices has analysed 18 seasons of the BBC TV show Dragons’ Den to reveal which cast member has invested the most.

Dragons’ Den has been credited for helping to launch hundreds of businesses, making several millionaires along the way.

Taking a look into the show’s history, Small Business Prices reveals which Dragons are most likely to back your business and the total amount of money each investor has pumped into startups over the years.

DragonNo. of seasons as a DragonNo. of deals Average deals per season
Duncan Bannatyne12121
Rachel Elnaugh221
Richard Farleigh231.5
James Caan4112.75
Doug Richard221
Peter Jones18412.28
Nick Jenkins263
Sara Davies2115.5
Sarah Willingham221
Simon Woodroffe100
Theo Paphitis8202.5
Hilary Devey221
Piers Linney242
Jenny Campbell263
Tej Lalvani4153.75
Kelly Hoppen242
Touker Suleyman6152.5
Deborah Meaden16342.125

Peter Jones has been on the show since the beginning in 2005 and has taken on the most deals. Over the 18 series of the show, he has made a whopping 41 deals averaging at 2.28 deals per season. Some of these deals include, Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae sauce, Intern Avenue by Dupsy Abiola, (an intern portal that pairs companies with youngsters looking for work) and WoodBlocx, a DIY wooden outdoor landscaping products by entrepreneurs Henry and Philip Blake.

Peter is closely followed by Deborah Meaden who has made 34 deals over 16 seasons, and Theo Paphitis who invested in 20 companies over his 8 seasons in the den- an average of 2.5 deals every season he was involved with. Although Deborah Meaden said in a Guardian interview in 2007 that she can “come over as quite blunt” and even feels she is criticised for not investing, on average she invests in 2.125 deals per season.

Even though Sara Davies has only been on Dragons’ Den for two seasons she has the highest number of average deals per season, making an average of 5.5 investments per season. Sara Davies is currently the youngest investor to be on Dragons’ Den and has said that she’s “been a fan of the show since it started” and was even invited to pitch on the show thirteen years ago.

Peter Jones has invested over £2m during his 18 seasons in the Den

Dragon Amount invested per Dragon (£)Average amount invested per deal (£)
Duncan Bannatyne745,000.0062,083.33
Rachel Elnaugh114,000.0057,000.00
Richard Farleigh205,000.00102,500.00
James Caan724,166.67181,041.67
Doug Richard85,000.0042,500.00
Peter Jones2,080,666.67115,592.59
Nick Jenkins315,000.00157,500.00
Sara Davies499,166.67249,583.34
Sarah Willingham100,000.0050,000.00
Simon Woodroffe0.000.00
Theo Paphitis1,449,166.67181,145.83
Hilary Devey117,500.0058,750.00
Piers Linney280,000.00140,000.00
Jenny Campbell320,000.00160,000.00
Tej Lalvani599,166.67149,791.67
Kelly Hoppen130,000.0065,000.00
Touker Suleyman674,166.67112,361.11
Deborah Meaden1,799,000.00112,437.50

The research revealed all the funds that have been invested by each Dragon. Taking first place with an overwhelming portfolio of 41 investments, Peter Jones has invested £2,080,666.67 over the course of 18 seasons, averaging just over £115,500 per deal.

The Dragon that has invested the second highest amount of money is Deborah Meaden, who has invested a total of £1,799,000.00. Meaden is a British businesswoman and TV personality who made her money mainly from the travel industry and has been on the show for 16 seasons, since the third season.

Theo Paphitis, a retail magnate and entrepreneur who is also the former chairman of Millwall Football Club, has invested the third-highest amount of money whilst being on the show for 8 seasons. Theo Paphitis has invested a total of £1,449,166.67 into potential entrepreneurs.

Sara Davies, the newest dragon, invests £249,583.34 on average for every deal. The British businesswoman and entrepreneur is the founder and owner of Crafter’s Companion. She began the start-up, which is now a million-pound business, whilst she was a student at the University of York.

The biggest deals ever made on Dragons’ Den

One of the biggest deals ever made on Dragons’ Den occurred in 2007, when Reggae singer and chef Levi Roots pitched his Reggae Reggae sauce to the Dragons. Although Duncan Bannatyne didn’t believe in the idea, Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh invested £25,000 each to manufacture the product, with 40% shared equity in the company.

The barbecue sauce, which Levi Roots began selling at Notting Hill Carnival, was a secret recipe from his grandmother and the company now has a net worth of £45 million. It even outsells Heinz Tomato Ketchup, according to Sainsbury.

Another Dragons’ Den success story is Skinny Tan, created by the budding inventors Kate Cotton and Louise Ferguson from Essex. After spending 10 years in Australia, the duo came back to the UK and tried to extend their self-tan brand startup. After the company launched in 2012, the brand made profits of £600,000 in its first year. However, after its founders pitched to the Dragons’ in 2013, the company reached global success and even became one of the fastest-selling tanning products in the UK. The Dragon’s Kelly Hoppen and Piers Linney made an offer of £60,000 investment for a 10% stake in the company. In addition to this, after the investment, the company secured a deal with Boots as well as expanding to Spain, Canada, South Africa and Dubai.

Another one of the biggest deals ever made on Dragons’ Den was when Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis invested in a Magic Whiteboard. The product was founded by husband-and-wife team Neil and Laura Westwood back in 2006 and is a roll of A1 whiteboard sheets that will stick on anything thanks to static. Meaden and Paphitis invested a respectable £100,000 for a 40% share in the company. The Magic Whiteboard is now stocked in all major office supply stores with a global customer base. In 2008 the product was stocked in 230 Ryman stores, in 2016 over 1 million rolls were sold and it is now the largest Pegboard range in the UK since 2018.

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