Kokoso Baby Softens Up The Dragons
We said we never would.
As an ordinary mum and dad who don’t normally seek out the limelight, it was at the bottom of our ‘ways to build the business’ list. But then we got the call. A producer at Dragons’ Den had seen an article on Kokoso Baby Coconut Oil in Metro about being a Start Up Loans success story. Would we like to apply to the show?
Well, no, not really! But we realised it would be an amazing opportunity for us and, if we were lucky enough to gain investment, the influence of a Dragon could help turn Kokoso into the thriving business we knew it could be. So after a lot of soul searching we decided to go for it.
We practiced the pitch at every opportunity around the house. Our little girls were clearly puzzled as to why mummy and daddy would suddenly break into this strange, serious recital, throwing questions at each other across the kitchen. They must have thought we’d finally gone coconuts.
Pitch day in May 2016 rolled round quickly. With childcare arranged we travelled up to Manchester the day before, as we had to be at the studio for 6.30am for filming.
We arrived, set up our display, went into make-up, did our pre-interview and then, after what seemed an eternity of anxiously waiting in the green room, it was our turn to pitch.
Looking back, the whole experience feels very surreal. We were so incredibly nervous it was like an out-of-body experience. As the famous lift doors opened my stomach lurched. I saw that Sarah Willingham, on the left, was smiling warmly. Peter Jones, on the right, refused to make eye contact.
There were around 30 other people and lots of cameras in the room, all along the left hand side. We’d been told to remove the panels to reveal our display and I remember catching mine on the corner of the table and having heart palpitations thinking I was about to send a tower of Kokoso flying. Not a good start.
Heart still racing, our pitch began…
Apparently, some performances in the Den can last for up to three hours but we were only in there for around 45 minutes. Ultimately, four out of the five Dragons had conflicting business interests and therefore declared themselves ‘out’ quite swiftly. It was a situation Peter Jones said he’d never seen before in the Den!
We did get a bit of a bashing from Peter Jones and Nick Jenkins. They were disappointed by our moderate sales figures – so far. We wish we’d responded that we had built the brand from scratch with almost no marketing budget to spread the word. That’s why we were on Dragons’ Den, after all!
All hail Deborah Meaden, who really understood our reasons for starting the business:
“I love the smell – and the purity of it is really lovely. One of the things I constantly say is don’t put things on your children’s skin that you wouldn’t put in their mouth because our skin absorbs exactly the same things as we do when we eat. And you can’t get purer than that [Kokoso Baby].”
And Sarah Willingham was also a big fan of the multitasking wonder oil:
“In terms of putting raw organic coconut oil on your kids I think it is completely the future, the way forward. It’s been the single product that I’ve put on my kids that’s had the biggest success.”
And then, finally, there was Touker Suleyman, our fashion tycoon in shining armour, who saw something special in what we’d achieved so far:
“I admire what you’ve done… As a brand I love it. And I’m going to make you an offer.”
Touker had been one of our preferred Dragons from the outset, so it was easy to accept his offer of a £50,000 investment in exchange for a 30% stake in our business, dropping to 25% when he makes his money back. We had gone in offering only 10% but we knew we were prepared to go up to 25%, so were happy to shake on the deal.
We’re thrilled to welcome the millionaire businessman to Team Kokoso and can’t wait to take our natural baby skincare business to the next level with some Touker Time to guide us.
With his investment, our first task is to bring out our amazing natural and organic coconut oil baby wash. We’ve been working hard on developing a formula that’s nothing less than perfect for little people – and can’t wait to share the coconutty goodness with you all later this year.
Watch this space…
Kokoso Baby appeared on Dragons' Den in 2016. We accepted investment from Touker Suleyman and worked with him for three years before buying back his shares in the business in 2019. We now own 100% of our business and are proud to be 100% family-run!