Stratford entrepreneur bags £60k Dragons' Den investment
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 October 2019
A Stratford entrepreneur is excited for the future of his business after bagging a £60,000 investment on Dragons' Den.
Oliver Adkins and his business partner Ruth Nicholls scooped the investment from Deborah Meaden during their appearance on the popular BBC Two show.
Their company, Churchill Gowns, offers low-cost university gowns made from recycled plastic and is aimed at both environmentally-conscious and money-saving students.
The gowns are delivered and returned by post, allowing students to keep them for a week - something which Oliver explained was influenced by his grandmother being unable to attend his own graduation ceremony but wanting to take photographs with her.
"We had offers from Deborah Meaden and Touker Suleyman," Oliver said. "Both of them had experience with textiles, but Deborah was really excited about the sustainability side of the business."
He explained that the business, which is based in Hackney Wick, has attracted a lot of attention since the programme aired. "The response from our customers has been incredible," he said. "We have had so many people coming to us saying that they saw us on the show.
"We have gone from supplying gowns for 20 universities to nearer 50, and a large part of that is just off the show."
On the experience, Oliver said: "We did a lot of preparation for it. The filming lasts for two hours. There's lots of questions and the producers don't get involved.
"What you see is 15 minutes and you don't know if they're going to use your good bits or your bad bits."
It was during while studying for his postgraduate degree at Cambridge that Oliver first came up with the idea for his business.
"It's one of those places where you wear gowns to exams and to dinners," he said.
"There are 28 colleges and each of them have their own gowns. It's like a Harry Potter experience.
"I realised most universities tell you to go to one supplier. In Cambridge there are a couple of places you can buy them.
"Competition means there's a massive price difference."