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Vegan ice cream maker who turned down Dragons’ Den scoops Tesco deal

Vegan ice cream maker who turned down  Dragons’ Den scoops Tesco deal

An ice cream maker who turned down a £75,000 investment from the Dragons’ Den has now scooped a lucrative deal with a major supermarket.

Mother-of-two Cecily Mills, the founder of vegan ice cream brand Coconuts Organic, appeared on the hit BBC show last year and received an offer from Jenny Campbell.

The 35-year-old later changed her mind and opted to work alone and now, one year on, has landed a deal with Tesco which will see her non-dairy ice cream on sale in more than 600 stores.

Cecily Mills, the founder of vegan ice cream brand Coconuts Organic, has now been offered a lucrative contract with Tesco 

Ms Mills took her idea to the Dragons’ Den panel in 2018 (pictured)

Ms Mills, 35, from Redruth in Cornwall, was motivated to start her business after the death of her mother, who died suddenly from bowel cancer when Cecily was just 15.

She said: ‘I was so flattered and honoured and in the Den I accepted Jenny’s offer.

‘Actually what happened post filming, is that I was offered a listing with Tesco, that we’ve just gone live with a couple weeks ago and it suddenly became clear that the money I had been offered by Jenny in the Den wasn’t going to be enough.

‘After a lot of discussions with Jenny and her team, we decided the best thing for both parties and the business was to part ways very graciously.

‘I’m so grateful to her for her faith in me.’ 

Coconuts Organic is available in six flavours and sold in more than 100 independent stores in the UK, as well as Morrisons, Asda and Ocado

Ms Mills added: ‘I started the business four years ago literally from my kitchen table.

‘I started it after making changes to my own diet looking for more energy to cope with a demanding job I had in the South East.

‘I started eating a plant-based diet and part of that change, I missed ice cream. I didn’t know I was such an ice cream fan actually.

‘I started to develop the recipes at home, using coconut cream and unrefined coconut sugar, keeping them as natural as possible.

‘There seemed to be something in it, everyone loved it, I loved it and my friends and family loved it.

‘I wanted to start my own business and everything aligned and I decided this is the thing I want to pursue.’ 

Coconuts Organic is available in six flavours and sold in more than 100 independent stores in the UK, as well as Morrisons, Asda and Ocado. 

Internationally, the product is available in Dubai. The brand is also developing its international expansion plans, with a particular focus on the Middle East and Asia. 

From pitches to riches: The Dragons’ Den rejects who went on to make a mint

Some entrepreneurs given the financial backing of the Dragons’ Den panel have become internationally-recognised moguls – such as Reggae Reggae Sauce founder, Levi Roots.

But other aspiring business stars felt the wrath of the by the Dragons’ Den panel before being turned away from the boardroom.

However some of those who chose to go it alone have gone on to make millions. 

Series 5, 2007 

Shaun Pulfrey: Tangle Teezer 

Shaun Pulfrey, was told by Duncan Bannatyne that his Tangle Teezer hair brushes would never make any money. He is now a multi-millionaire 

Shaun Pulfrey, who was told by Duncan Bannatyne that his Tangle Teezer hair brushes would never make any money – netted sales of £24million in 2017 after attracting clients including Victoria Beckham.

Mr Pulfrey braved the notoriously high-pressure environment of the Den in 2007, in a bid to raise £80,000 in exchange for a 15 per cent share in his company.

He had already invested £98,000 from his savings from working as a hair salon colourist and by remortgaging his London flat. 

The then Dragons – Deborah Meaden, Theo Paphitis, Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan responded unanimously: ‘I’m out!’

Mr Jones went so far as to tell Mr Pulfrey his brush scheme was ‘hair-brained’; Mr Caan called it ‘a waste of time’; and Ms Meaden dismissed his product saying it was like a ‘horse brush’.

He is now worth more than £12m, and his products can be bought in more than 90 countries worldwide. Some 40 million of his hair brushes have been sold.

He now owns outright his £2.6 million home – a townhouse in Clapham, South West London – and spends £350 a month on Creed cologne. 

Tangle Teezer hairbrushes are sold in all Boots stores, including his newest innovation, The Wet Detangler. Launched in May 2018, it is the first Tangle Teezer with a handle.

Series 3, 2006 

Rob Law: Trunki  

Rob Law brought his Trunki suitcase before the Dragons in 2006 but was turned away. Trunkis are stocked at 2,500 retailers including John Lewis 

Rob Law brought his Trunki suitcase before the Dragons, only for Robert Dyas owner Theo Paphitis to break one of the handles – causing the other panel members to question their quality.

But now Trunkis are stocked at 2,500 retailers including John Lewis and pulled in sales of upwards of £9million last year.   

Series 15, 2017

Jason Hamlin: Bikeaway Lockable Bike Box 

Turnover: Trebled in a year

Jason Hamlin appeared on series 15 in 2017 with his Bikeaway lockable bike box business proposal, when he asked for a £600,000 investment for 50 per cent profit.

He valued his business at £1.2million, despite a net profit of only £24,000, before asking the panel not to ‘throw their toys out of the pram’ and calling Deborah Meaden ‘Debbie’.

He was simultaneously rejected by all the dragons, however his turnover has trebled since his pitiful pitch.

Jason Hamlin appeared on series 15 in 2017 with his Bikeaway lockable bike box business proposal

He valued his business at £1.2million, despite a net profit of only £24,000

Series 15, 2017

Nilesh Pandit: Football Kits for pros 

Turnover: 25 new contracts won

In Series 15, in 2017, Nilesh Pandit, whose company provides kit for football players, asked for £100,000 in exchange for 12.5 per cent of the business. 

But he was rejected when they uncovered a £200,000 tax penalty he had failed to declare.

‘The nail in the coffin was when Peter said he would have invested if I had told them about the penalty’, Nilesh reflected, admitting that he wishes he had been upfront from the start.

However despite having to go it on his own, he has now won 25 contracts.

Nilesh Pandit, whose company provides kit for football players, asked for £100,000 in exchange for 12.5 per cent of the business

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