A FIRM that turned down £250,000 of investment on BBC’s Dragons’ Den has gone on to sell thousands of its fuel safety devices worldwide.
Diesel Do Nicely (DDN) was offered the investment from dragons Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden in return for a 25 per cent stake in the firm when it appeared on the TV show in August 2008.
The Darlington company had developed a device called Fuel Angel, which is fitted to diesel vehicles to prevent them being filled with unleaded petrol.
But bosses at DDN walked away from the dragons after they felt the stake in their business was too high.
The firm, based in McMullen Road, instead sourced private investment and has gone on to sell the devices across the world, mainly for company and emergency services vehicles.
Director Michael Cotton, who appeared on the programme, said: “We have sold just under 20,000 in the past 16 months.
“Prior to Dragons’ Den, we used to get 60 hits a day on our website. In the first 36 hours after the programme went out we had 360,000.
“A lot of the specialist services are taking it because they can’t afford to have the vehicle off the road, not necessarily for the repair costs, but because you can’t just go and rent one of these vehicles.
“We also get many people over the age of 40 who are well insured and look at it as an extra insurance policy.
“There is a real demand out there for these.”
Mr Cotton said he had no regrets about turning down the offer of investment on Dragons’ Den, adding: “I don’t think it suited us at the time.”
One of the advantages of the device is its simplicity. It fits the fuel tank like a standard cap, but makes it physically impossible for the smaller unleaded nozzle to enter.
Mr Cotton said: “It is a very simple device, but because you have no moving parts, it should last the lifetime of the car.”
DDN has urged other innovators to find out whether they qualify for a Government scheme after, with the help of Darlington-based business advisory firm Clive Owen and Co, the firm received £24,000 in cash plus an additional £8,000 in tax relief back from the Government, as part of a research and development tax credit scheme.
Peter Hogan, of Clive Owen, said: “Any businesses which are trying to refine a particular process or product or developing a new product may qualify.”