How James is making the Bo Bo Buddies Boat go faster
Dragons Den for Will It Make The Boat Go Faster Alumni
James Roupell is an entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word and the lead character in one of our favourite success stories to come out of the Dragon’s Den.
Not least, because we feel we have a vested interest. James was one of the participants in our inaugural Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? Open Programme in 2013.
Featured in last week’s episode of the BBC programme, he brought his BoBo Buddies fledgling business to Peter Jones, Piers Linley, Kelly Hoppen, Deborah Meaden and Duncan Bannatyne with aconcrete goal in mind – to secure £50,000 worth of investment.
As founder of the business, he had accepted an offer of £50,000 in exchange for a 40% stake, from Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones. The Independent reports on James’ thoughts at the time:
“Standing there, surrounded by film crew and cameras, with all eyes on you, is so surreal. You’re under so much pressure to make a decision. I was trying to think rationally. It was only once I’d left that I thought, ‘What have I done?’”
“They were very persuasive – I hadn’t planned to give away nearly that much of my company.”
Business dream becomes a reality
Before we find out why this business entrepreneur turned down the money he needed, let’s find out more about where the idea for BoBo Buddies came from.
“I was on a flight back in 2012 – I was surrounded by kids with soft toys and blankets strewn everywhere. When I was small, my granny had sewn a blanket into my favourite toy and I suddenly thought, why don’t I start making these all-in-one toys.”
Within six months, his business dream was a reality – he had sold his first batch of 4,000 units at Christmas fairs and trade shows, and had managed to secure a contract with Debenhams. However, when the banks refused him the £50,000 he needed to deliver the products to fulfill the deal, he turned to the Dragon’s Den.
Retaining control of your business
So after achieving success in terms of getting the investment he’d wanted, why did James turn down the Dragons?
“I know some people from within the retail industry who help me out when I’ve had questions or problems. They are my sounding board,” he explained. “I explained my situation and to my surprise, most of them offered to help.”
Having secured an offer of financial help – a loan with a small amount of interest – James was able to move forward without the help of the Dragons, whilst retaining control of his business.
“The most important thing was that I lost no equity,” he said.
Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?
Since the programme was filmed 12 months ago, he has sold over 20,000 products in UK stores such as Debenhams, Harvey Nichols and Fenwick.
We caught up with James this week to ask him how he felt in hindsight about his time on The Will It Make The Boat Go Faster workshops last year.
“I have to say that I’ve been putting into practice so many things from the Will It workshops and now don’t do anything without asking myself “Will it make the boat go faster?”. I came away from it feeling more efficient and organised. I’ve since gravitated towards people who are enthusiastic and who can directly help…and I found it very useful meeting new people, all of whom shared a commondesire to learn and improve the way they do things.”