James Watt: When Dragon's Den turned down BrewDog

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Back in 2009, after BrewDog had been running successfully for two years, we applied to go on Dragon’s Den and pitch to the Dragons. We got through the initial application process and were selected for a screen trial in Manchester. Martin and I put on our best clothes, practised our presentation and drove down to the BBC studios where we pitched our hearts out during the screen trial and thought we did quite a good job.
However, the producers did not.

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They thought our business wasn’t a good-enough investment proposition for the Dragons and that BrewDog was not unique enough, special enough or with enough growth potential to make the grade and appear on the show. So at the last minute it was decided that we would not get to pitch our business to the Dragons.
It was a huge kick in the teeth for us at the time and that stinging rejection still burns today.
Our pitch would have seen us offer the Dragons 20% of BrewDog for a £100,000 investment.
Since the producers turned us down, we have gone on to build a pretty neat little business which is currently valued at £1.8 billion and which has raised over £250m. Had we been able to pitch (and had any of the Dragons invested) that £100,000 would now be worth a whopping £360 million. It would have been by far the most lucrative investment not only in the history of Dragon’s Den but pretty much in investment history overall.
Looking back, despite how much of a setback it was at the time we are actually really happy we got turned down. It forced Martin and I to go back to the drawing board in terms of how to finance our business. As a result we created a model that lets the people who enjoy our beer own a part of our company. Equity for Punks would not have existed without the Dragons Den rejection.
We now have a community of over 75,000 Equity Punk investors all over the world who are the heart and soul of our business. The Dragon’s loss was our amazing Equity Punks gain. It definitely worked out for the better, in our eyes. You can find out more about joining our community and owning part of BrewDog here.
The producers on Dragon’s Den also thought Martin and I weren’t good on TV during the screen trial and that we would not be able to do a good job of a televised pitch. Well, we subsequently headed up our own TV show Brew Dogs, which is now shown all over the world.
Who needs celebrity investors when you have Equity Punks.


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