Cash setback

Cocktail maker reveals dragon deal fell through

Paul Crawford on Dragons' Den
Paul Crawford: we never moved forward

A former Glasgow club owner, who accepted Dragons’ Den panellist Deborah Meaden’s £50,000 investment in his cocktail drinks business, has revealed that the deal did not go ahead.

Viewers saw Paul Crawford take the money after agreeing to forfeit 25% of his Panther M*lk business rather than the 7.5% he offered to the TV investors.

But he has now revealed that the deal fell through, although Ms Meaden continues to offer him advice.

“It was quite difficult, because the business is very young and I have very high aspirations for it,” he told the Daily Record.

“I had a figure in my mind which was 7.5% and I knew I’d have to negotiate to get a Dragon on board, but not 25%, which was quite a tough one to try and take.

“We didn’t actually move forward with the investment – I realised I was going to have to raise a lot more money and Deborah realised it too, so we never moved forward on it; but she has been really supportive.

“I’ve got her mobile and she’s been giving advice to me and has been really great.

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“She emailed me the other day to say she put us forward for a show called Love Your Weekend on ITV for a cocktail section at Easter.”

Crawford added that he has been inundated with messages since appearing on the show from people wanting to stock his oat milk product that he discovered at a Barcelona music festival. It was inspired by ‘Leche De Pantera’, a potent cocktail that has its origins in 1920s Spain.  

The brand has enjoyed rapid growth as the booming ready-to-drink cocktail category is expected to double in the next five years.

As he considered Ms Meaden’s final offer, viewers saw fellow dragon Steve Bartlett whisper to him: “Do it”.

After he agreed to the deal, Ms Meaden said: “I think we’re going to do something really good with this.”

Panellist Sara Davies called after him: “She might just make you a millionaire.”

Mr Crawford described the experience as “a rollercoaster, quite exhausting”. He added: “It’s a lot more than I wanted to give away but I do like Deborah’s vibe.”

Edinburgh entrepreneur Caroline Kennedy Alexander, who is behind the luxury post-breast cancer surgery brand LoveRose Lingerie, was unable to make it a Scottish double on the night after the dragons felt her product was too niche.

Ms Alexander and her business parter Sarah Bell Jones, asked for £200,000 to help grow the brand after spotting a gap in the market for luxury lingerie while she was recovering from a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

LoveRose on Dragons Den
LoveRose was seeking £200,000

Mr Bartlett said it was a ‘great product’ but said they had not demonstrated it was an investable business.

Afterwards Ms Alexander said: “We might not have received investment from the Dragons’ Den, but it was amazing to reach so many women who have been through breast cancer to let them know that LoveRose is here for them when they need luxurious lingerie post surgery.⁠

“We are currently halfway through our latest investment raise and the reaction to last night’s show has been very encouraging, with requests for fresh business conversations as well as a surge in customer orders.

“We’re so excited for what’s to come at LoveRose Lingerie – our Essentials line is launching this year, and we’re negotiating listings with some wonderful retail partners that will allow us to reach more women who have experienced breast cancer.

“One-in-seven women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, with more than 500,000 women currently living well after treatment.”

LoveRose – named in memory of Ms Alexander’s sister, Rose, who died from cancer – raised an initial £15,000 during a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to help get the business off the ground and won a further funding boost at the Scottish EDGE Awards 2018.

The business attracted further support from London-based venture capital investor Ruth McIntosh, who said she invested in LoveRose because it filled “a real gap in the post surgery market, designing lingerie that is certainly functional, but more importantly beautiful and sexy.”

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