It is always comforting to know that even the most successful businessmen and women can make a mistake. Back in 2006 the famous TV Dragons cast scorn on designer Rob Law’s innovative children’s wheeled luggage which he had named Trunki. The invention received only one offer from the Dragons which Law rejected and that seemed to that. The failure in the Den, however, was not the end of the story.
Award Winning Design
Trunkie was to go on to win more than 50 product and design awards and has since sold some 1.5 million units and the sales show no sign of slowing down. The story became headline news and now it looks like the Dragons have missed another great money spinning opportunity with a product that they labelled “Tacky” and rejected out of hand.
The Tulip was a portable wine product which the panel wholly dismissed. Presented by packaging expert James Nash, this was a wine in a cup concept featuring a tipple in a sealed plastic PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) glass, yoghurt pot style. The panel may not have liked the idea but Marks & Spencer certainly did and contacted Nash days after the show was broadcast. The Tulip was trialled in 91 of the retail giant’s stores and as the glasses flew off the shelves the product was rolled out to all of the company’s food outlets.
Convenience in a Glass
Ideal for picnics, festivals and sporting events the Tulip has a shelf life of over one year and the glass is virtually unbreakable. Each Tulip contains ¼ of a bottle of wine and although the cost is proportionately much more expensive than buying the same wine in bottle form, the convenience and practicality has won the day. It is not the product for those with a taste for quality wines but for a quick tipple it is a winner.
Following rejection in the Den Nash and his wife initially funded the project themselves but required further investment to scale their production. £500,000 raised from family and friends enabled the acquisition of the machinery, technology and patent application that they needed and they were ready for large scale production.
The Tulip had achieved sales of £3.5 million by 2011 and began to expand across the globe with enquiries flooding in daily from those wanting to act as agents for the product overseas. It looks like there is no stopping The Tulip with impressive growth forecast and further innovations in the pipeline.
It certainly looks like the Dragons dropped a clanger when they scorned this simple but appealing idea. You would have thought that the evident popularity of convenience foods and the trend for grab and go products would have seen The Tulip ring a few bells when Nash walked into the Den but sometimes even the best ideas can initially slip through the net. Thankfully Nash had the courage to put his own cash into the project and to pursue the idea because if hadn’t it is likely that someone else would have picked up on the glass and the rewards for his innovative concept would have gone elsewhere.
Sally Stacey is a keen writer and business owner who loves successful new ideas