Dragons’ Den reject has turned his business into a global success

The entrepreneur from Skelmersdale in Lancashire has had the last laugh after selling more than 70,000 child buoyancy aids called SwimFin, receiving backing from Olympians and Paralympians plus an MBE. The former swimming instructor sells SwimFin, a child’s buoyancy aid which is shaped like a shark fin to more than 140 countries.

He continued: “So I stayed up literally all night putting some kind of a business plan together. I mean, what did I know? I was a swimming instructor at the time.

“What did I know about manufacturing, legal affairs, distribution, marketing, sales, the whole supply chain? So the application went in Monday morning. I got a phone call on the Tuesday afternoon saying, ‘We like it, can you come in for an audition?'”

Kevin asked Olympic swimmer Mark Foster if he would endorse SwimFin which he agreed to and also appeared alongside Kevin on the show. However, his time in the den did not go well.

While Peter Jones offered 25 percent for half the money, the other Dragons didn’t back the product leaving Kevin feeling ridiculed.

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Kevin decided to go alone, remortgaging his house, cashing in his savings and even selling his swim school business. Thankfully, it has all been worth it.

He added: “Within a couple of years we hit 70 countries where orders were coming in from all over the world. It’s taken me around the world.

“I do seminars, I’ve done lectures, I’ve done exhibitions. I’ve met royalty, I’ve met celebrities. You know, I’m just a swimming instructor from Skem. It’s life-changing.

“So today, we export to, we’ve lost count, to be honest. The last time we checked it was 140 countries. So I think there’s only 197 in the world.”

They asked the Dragons for a £250,000 investment for a 20 percent stake in the business.

One of the Dragons, Duncan Bannatyne, said: “I don’t think I would buy the product. How many people have bought it?”

The investment was also declined by dragons Richard Farleigh and Peter Jones who said: “I don’t think you’ll sell the volume you expect.”

However, since then the invention has won a Double Gold Award at the British Invention Show and is now valued at just less than £2million.

Dragons’ Den returns on Thursday on BBC One at 8pm.

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