Dragon’s of­fer put on hold by baby firm

Bosses of North­ern ire­land com­pany Sh­nug­gle still weigh­ing up an of­fer from en­tre­pre­neur Touker Su­ley­man

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY RACHEL MARTIN

BOSSES of a North­ern Ire­land baby prod­ucts firm say they are still weigh­ing up an of­fer from en­tre­pre­neur Touker Su­ley­man af­ter tak­ing part in BBC2 se­ries Dragons’ Den.

And hus­band and wife team Adam and Sinead Mur­phy say they’ve also re­ceived two other con­fi­den­tial in­vest­ment of­fers since Dragons’ Den was filmed in June. They ap­peared in the show on Sun­day night.

The pair, who run New­tow­nards firm Sh­nug­gle, were made an of­fer by the fash­ion and re­tail en­tre­pre­neur and in­vestor, but af­ter film­ing, by mu­tual agree­ment the ty­coon’s of­fers were put on hold. How­ever, the cou­ple hope a fu­ture col­lab­o­ra­tion could be on the cards.

The ratchet agree­ment saw Touker of­fer to in­vest £100,000 in re­turn for a 25% stake in the busi­ness — with his share drop­ping to 15% should the cou­ple meet their tar­get of £1.2m turnover.

Six months on from the process, the pair say Sh­nug­gle is well on track to meet the tar­get, with cur­rent pro­jec­tions for the 201617 fi­nan­cial year fore­cast­ing the com­pany will turn over be­tween £1.1m and £1.2m.

The ex­pe­ri­ence saw the cou­ple come un­der the scru­tiny of the five busi­ness judges for around two hours, and even saw Su­ley­man try to jump into the cou­ple’s baby car­rier, with dis­as­trous con­se­quences.

Adam and Sinead Mur­phy say they came up with the idea for Sh­nug­gle when the cou­ple’s first daugh­ter Rose was born with a form of Down’s syn­drome and needed a more “hy­gienic” sleep­ing space.

The com­pany was founded in 2009 with a £25,000 per­sonal loan, which al­lowed them to de­sign and launch their first prod­uct, a mod­ern take on the tra­di­tional Moses bas­ket.

The busi­ness be­gan in the fam­ily’s garage, but ex­panded rapidly.

To­day, the firm em­ploys eight peo­ple and makes a range of blan­kets, bed­ding, bathing and sleep­wear.

Their flag­ship prod­uct — the Sh­nug­gle bas­ket — is hypo-al­ler­genic and eas­ily cleaned, with a wick­er­less de­sign which is al­most silent so it won’t dis­turb a sleep­ing baby or par­ents.

The firm al­ready ex­ports to 22 coun­tries in­clud­ing Canada, China, Tai­wan, and South Korea.

The cou­ple wanted the in­vest­ment to help them crack the US mar­ket. De­spite back­ing from two Amer­i­can dis­trib­u­tors — Buy Buy Baby and Ba­bies R Us — hefty in­sur­ance costs have made this a dif­fi­cult mar­ket to ac­cess.

Adam said: “We are do­ing a larger in­vest­ment round now and hope Touker will be join­ing us. Our fund­ing round has in­creased since the film­ing in June, so we are looking at a num­ber of op­tions; crowd fund­ing, in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors and pri­vate in­vestors.

“The fund­ing will be used for job cre­ation, mar­ket­ing, stock build­ing and fo­cus­ing on the US mar­ket launch. We hope to raise £500,000 with the in­vest­ment round and we’d re­ally like to get Touker in­volved in it.”

The money will also al­low the cou­ple to work on de­vel­op­ing two new prod­ucts ev­ery year, the lat­est of which are a wa­ter­proof ther­mome­ter de­signed to test the tem­per­a­ture of bath­wa­ter and a squishy chang­ing mat with high sides to pre­vent re­flux and colic.

The in­vest­ment round will close by the mid­dle of April and as a re­sult of the pair hope to be able to em­ploy a fur­ther four peo­ple.

Sinead added: “We still are rel­a­tively small in terms of where we would like to go and we are com­pet­ing with much larger brands.

“It’s not just hav­ing the back­ing of the dragons, it’s their team and lit­tle black book of con­tacts too, which brought us to the den.

“The dif­fi­cult thing to get across on the show is just how far we have al­ready come.”

The pair say they were en­cour­aged when Deb­o­rah Meaden told them their busi­ness “ticked all the boxes”, but she ul­ti­mately bowed out af­ter she de­clared she was not in­ter­ested in baby prod­ucts.

The cou­ple added they have taken on her ad­vice to cre­ate a stronger brand and have added new lo­gos to their prod­ucts.

Adam and Sinead mak­ing their pitch on Dragons’ Den

One of Sh­nug­gle’s baby prod­ucts

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.