Dragons' Den: Kelly Hoppen criticises cycling brand in 2014
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Richard and Lynn Bye entered the Den in 2014 seeking an £80,000 investment for 10 percent equity in their business Fat Lad at the Back (FLAB). FLAB caters to the larger-framed cyclist with sizes up to a 60inch waist and a 58inch chest.
In a year of starting their business they were able to turn over £40,000 and gain over 3,000 followers on Facebook. Their gross profit was £24,000, however they needed investment to take their brand to the next level.
Unfortunately they left the Den empty-handed as the Dragons’ did not believe in their brand.
Deborah Meaden had a problem with the brand as she thought it was “too closely descriptive” to the people they wanted to attract.
Kelly Hoppen thought their presentation was “flawed”.
She said: “Most people don’t want to think they’re becoming middle aged, or that they’re overweight. They don’t want that pointed out to them.
“I don’t get the positive out of it.”
Peter Jones said he did not think this could be a “mainstream brand” however he did think they could sell some items as the name and brand was “quirky”.
Duncan Bannatyne said: “The initial concept of this is great, I just think that the actual ‘fat lad at the back’ descriptive title or brand is wrong.”
But eight years later they have been able to prove the Dragons’ wrong.
After pushing on with what they knew would be a hit, Richard, 49, and Lynn, 54, are now the proud directors of a £5million business.
Since their rejection, the company won a deal with bike chain Evan Cycles, to which Bye suggests that they are one of Evans most successful product launches ever.
With the success they have gone on to create the Fat Lass brand for females.
“Of course the Dragons are highly respected and successful entrepreneurs but they don’t know everything, so we weren’t put off just because they didn’t love our idea,” Lynn told The Sun.
She continued: “We realised that when someone has an issue with the name it says more about their attitude to fat than it does to the business and what we are trying to achieve.
“We now have customers in 89 countries, 60,000 people in our communities, and we’ve empowered tens of thousands of people to get on bikes and helped them look good while they do it – in many cases when they never thought they’d be able to.
“That was our objective, and the Dragons can take whatever message they like from that.”
Richard said: “At the end of the day, people either ‘get it’ or they don’t and we’d rather that than be just another vanilla brand.
“Both Peter and Deborah were very complimentary about the success the business had already enjoyed in what was a very short period of time, but they had no knowledge of the cycling industry or the opportunity Fat Lad posed.”
FLAB aims to provide sportswear for the larger framed sportsman with “kit that actually fits them as opposed to making them look like “a shrink-wrapped chicken,” Richard said.
He found it difficult to find sportswear to fit him and he could not find things that suited him so he wanted to create something better.
With no kit to fit the larger frame, he went in search of something more suitable but found there was nothing for the “fat lad at the back”.
With Dragons’ Den recently coming to a close for another series, it is interesting to look at previous pitches that have received investment, and those that have not.
Despite not leaving with any investment, many entrepreneurs have gone on to do great things with their products.
For example, Tangle Teezer, a hairbrush company, is now worth £200million. Rob’s rejection has also been one of the biggest success stories in the show’s history.
Dragons’ Den is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
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