Dragons’ Den reject told his product was ‘not investable’ but now sells across UK

6 mins read


He entered the Den asking for £50,000 for a 15 percent equity stake in the business however he left with nothing. Mr Carnie is the founder of Nuud gum. Nuud gum makes plant-based, plastic free and biodegradable chewing gum.

When Mr Carnie entered the Den, he explained he was selling his product to two national convenience retailers, Nisa and Costcutter.

He recommended that these retailers sell the gum between £1.50 and £1.99 per pack, which was about 2.5 times the category average.

Mr Carnie explained that the gum costs 44p a unit to make with a manufacturer in Europe.

This manufacturer did produce the product for others, but he had exclusivity on the specific composition of Nuud gum.

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He said they could produce something similar for another brand, but he was confident that his composition was best.

Tej was impressed with the product and said: “I think you’re fantastic, there’s no question that you could be a great entrepreneur.

“But this type of industry, before you know it, your margin is gone.

“The real issue is just that I think you need to get your costs down.”

Mr Carnie explained that after he reaches 250,000 unites, the costs of the goods can come down by a penny, but Tej expected more.

Tej continued: “I was expecting it to come down to 20 percent, or at least 15 percent.

“For a penny, you’re going to struggle to increase the price. You’re already saying 2.5 percent higher than the standard chewing gum. I would really like to see the price coming down by half almost.”

However, Mr Carnie defended his product by saying that the consumer will win in this market as what they want is plant based, sustainable products.

He gave the example of the oat milk brand Oatly. This brand charges two times the amount of normal milk but and has “smashed the milk category” with their plant-based variant.

Touker Souleyman explained he can’t fault Mr Carnie but the only thing that looked credible was him.

He said: “This is a very low value product. You have to sell a lot of chewing gum to even get going, so all you can go for is margin and low cost.

“It’s a shame, you came to the Den with the wrong business for me. So, for that reason, I’m out.”

Deborah Meaden explained she loved what Mr Carnie was doing but it didn’t mean it was a good investment for her.

She said that once people find out that the market leaders are using plastic in their gum products, they will spend millions just changing their own products, they would not acquire the small businesses already making plastic free gum.

Peter Jones added: “There must be a reason why Wrigleys and others don’t come up. You’re not going to scare them. And if they realise, they want to enter that marketplace because there is a disruptor brand, they’ll just take you down.

“As a product I don’t think it’s something for me so I’m out.”

Sara Davies also could not see the gum as an “investable product”, so she did not invest.

Tej said: “I don’t want you to walk out of here being disheartened because I think you’ve got something, but I think you’re probably not investable at the moment, so I’m out.”

Since the episode aired, Mr Carnie has secured a significant deal for the business. He mentioned Nuud was being sold in Nisa and Costcutter — but now it is available in Waitrose.

The plant-based peppermint gum can be bought in more than 260 Waitrose stores across the UK.

The company is forecast to earn £400,000 from its new contract, The Times reported.



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