NE businessman says no thanks to Dragon’s Den offer

An Aberdeen businessman said ‘thanks but no thanks’ to an £80,000 investment from the most high-profile investors around and has instead turned to crowdfunding.

Stuart Ingram was invited down to pitch his business, which encompasses the hugely popular House of Elrick Gin and a new tartan, on BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den. As viewers saw last night, he was offered a huge investment by not one, but two dragons.

One of the newest dragons, Jenny Campbell, was the first to make an offer for 12%. Business tycoon Peter Jones then offered £80,000 for 10% equity, which Stuart accepted on air.

“It was a bizarre experience pitching in front of the Dragons,” said Stuart. “There were five businesses vying for investment that day and I was the last – I think the Dragons were all pleased to see me with my bottles of gin!

“I am so delighted they loved the product enough to invest – I was quite overwhelmed with the response. But ultimately, it wasn’t the right decision for me or the brand.”

Once the cameras stopped rolling, Stuart deliberated the offer and decided to walk away. “It took a lot to turn down £80,000, especially from someone as renowned as Peter Jones,” he said. “I just wasn’t prepared to give up 10% of my whole estate – it’s everything I’ve worked for and it needs to be completely my own.”

Peter did see great potential in expanding the brand and that is something that Stuart intends to do.

He said: “The House of Elrick Estate is pretty incredible and we have big plans. We’ve recently set up a crowdfunding page for our supporters to help us on our journey.

Our on-site distillery is due to open later this year which means we’ll be branching out into other spirits. We also want to open a second distillery and restaurant serving sustainable, local, food with a creative twist staying true to our heritage. It really is an exciting time at House of Elrick.”