by John Sharp
At the end of 2007, James Halliburton, appeared on the BBC 2 programme Dragons’ Den, where he faced the fierce panel of financial investors with Waterbuoy, his ingenious emergency floatation device that saves boaters’ dropped valuables from a watery grave – Now they want him back!
For those of you that missed the show, Waterbuoy was a massive hit.
But, despite walking out of the den with the biggest deal ever offered by the Dragons, James took a different path, deciding to keep all of his equity and get Waterbuoy to market without the Dragons onboard.
What’s more, it has paid off, and the Dragons have invited him back to their den to explain how and why he decided to plough his own furrow.
'I just wasn’t comfortable handing so much of my company over to the investors,' explains James Halliburton. '£200,000 was a tempting sum of money, but ultimately, I knew that there was much more value in the business than the Dragons could see, and I didn’t want to undersell my company.
I was right too - we’ve sold over 50,000 units in the first eight months with some very large orders looming for the 2009 season.' James was being interviewed for a Dragons’ Den documentary that will air at the end of the new season, sometime in October.
The documentary follows the experiences of a handful of entrepreneurs that have found success following their appearance on previous shows, even though they turned-down the Dragons’ help. With a huge network or marine chandlers and on-line retailers now stocking Waterbuoy, James has single-handedly managed to achieve the impossible.
In the world’s largest boating market, the USA, retail giant West Marine has just signed-up to stock Waterbuoy. West Marine has over 400 retail outlets in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, selling over 50,000 products to more than 150 countries worldwide. In the UK, high street outdoor-pursuit chains Blacks and Millets will also be stocking Waterbuoy in the coming weeks.
Keep an eye on the Waterbuoy website at www.water-buoy.com to find out when the BBC’s October air date is confirmed, so you see how James managed to survive the Dragons’ Den unscathed. The site will also be regularly updated with the details of all the new national and international Waterbuoy stockists as and when they come on-line.