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Dragons' Den turned down company which is now worth nearly £2 billion

Dragons' Den turned down company which is now worth nearly £2 billion

Dragons' Den has had some great successes and passed on loads of huge opportunities, but none are likely bigger than this one

With the return of Dragons’ Den to our screens, it might be the time to remember that – despite all of their accumulated business acumen – the Dragons don’t always get it right, specifically on one occasion where they turned down a company that went on to make billions.

This time, Gary Neville has been added to the team, bringing his experience as both an entrepreneur and an international-level full back to the team.

Hey, maybe some businesspeople need to learn when to stay and go, or whether to hit the by-line or cut back, right?

Anyway, we digress.

In this instance, back in the days before Neville’s time in the Den, the Dragons passed up the opportunity to get in at the ground floor with a brand that is nowadays one of the biggest brands in beer, as well as owning loads of bars around the world.

The latest line-up of Dragons' Den bosses.
BBC

We’re talking – of course – about BrewDog.

BrewDog went on to be worth around £2 billion, but back in the mists of time – that’s 2009, to you and me – they were after just £100,000 for a 20 percent stake in the business.

What’s 20 percent of £2 billion?

A lot, that’s what.

However, co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie didn’t end up securing the investment, but went on to find the money somewhere else and have gone from strength to strength ever since.

Back in 2020, Watt shared a post on X explaining what happened.

Founders Martin Dickie and James Watt.
Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

He said: "In 2008 we applied to Dragons' Den & got as far as a screen test and we pitched our hearts out before the producers rejected us.

"They deemed Martin & myself not investment worthy. We were crushed. We were prepared to offer the Dragons 20% for £100,000.

"Based on our latest [at the time] BrewDog valuation, that investment would now be worth almost £360m meaning the Dragons missed out on by far the best deal in Den history.

"We got over the rejection eventually. But it took a while."

Still, the Dragons aren’t short of a couple of quid between them, so they’ll be fine.

In a recent valuation, published in City Index, BrewDog was valued at around $2 billion, and after raising £7.5 million through share sales, they were given a market cap of £1.8 billion.

That means that Watt’s 24 percent stake in the business is now worth around $480 (£393m) million and Dickie’s 20 percent stake worth $400 million (£328m).

In hindsight, you’d have to assume that nobody is too bothered that the deal didn’t get past the Dragons.

Featured Image Credit: BBC/BrewDog

Topics: Dragons Den, TV and Film, Business