Two mums who turned down a £100,000 offer on TV’s Dragons’ Den are set to become millionaires after selling their ‘Cuddledry’ baby blanket in 40 countries worldwide.
Pals Helen Wooldridge and Polly Marsh designed a hooded ‘apron’ towel called Cuddledry which makes it easier and safer to get tots out of the bath.
They took their product onto the BBC’s Dragons’ Den in 2007 and were given three offers of investment.
Deborah Meaden, James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne all offered the duo the £100,000 they were asking for, but demanded between a 40 and 50 per cent stake in the business.
Helen and Polly, both 39, refused to part with such a huge part of their business, which they painstakingly built from scratch at home, and instead opted to go alone.
And yesterday, three years after appearing on the show, they said they had ‘no regrets’ about rejecting the offers.
The business has grown rapidly and Cuddledry towels have now been a hit in over 40 countries.
They have sold 80,000 and their business turned over £500,000 in 2009, with one in every 20 new parents in Britain currently owning one of the towels.
Cuddledry is stocked in a wide range of high street stores including Tesco, Harrods, Debenhams and John Lewis.
Married mum-of-three Helen, of North Cadbury, Somerset, said: ”We decided we didn’t need the Dragons and it has been great going it alone. The business is expanding quickly and we have no regrets.
”It has been a massive learning curve but we didn’t want to give away nearly half of our business.
”We’ll never know how it would have gone if we had taken one of the offers, but we are delighted with how things are going.”
Helen and Polly came up with the simple idea after struggling with their babies during bath time, with both complaining of getting wet and living in constant fear of dropping the baby.
The Cuddledry fastens around the parent’s beck, leaving both hands free to safely pick up the child.
They appeared on Dragon’s Den in October 2007, where they were offered their desired £100,000 but for between 40 per cent and half their business – a price they said was ‘too high’.
After attempting to haggle, the pair went away and launched their business alone, which has proved such a runaway success that both have since given up their jobs in marketing and PR.
They managed to secured investment privately, for a much-reduced 10 per cent, and then began displaying the product at trade shows and pitching to shops.
Their company, which also makes other bath-time accessories, now has products in stores including Tesco, Harrods, Debenhams and John Lewis.
They are currently launching Cuddledry in America and have already sold thousands across the globe – including Russia, Australia and The Netherlands.
Helen revealed that turning down the Dragons was no mean feat and only did so after a ”long and nervous deliberation”.
She added: ”We thought Deborah Meaden in particular might have helped us a lot and given us the support we needed, so it was tempting.
”But we took a deep breath and decided we could do it by ourselves. Now it is going amazingly well so I think we’ve been proved right.”
Polly, of Nether Stowey near Bridgwater, Somerset, lives just an hour away from long-term friend Helen and also has three children.
She added: ”Cuddledry’s appearance on Dragons’ Den was a fantastic launch pad and we have achieved an awful lot in a short space of time.”