BBC Dragon’s make record 300% profit on £250k investment…. ….or did they?

From: Applied Language Solutions
Published: Tue Nov 27 2007


In November 2006, Gavin Wheeldon, a Yorkshire Entrepreneur climbed the steep steps for his opportunity to prise an investment from the Dragon’s claws. On that day the Dragons made a fatal mistake and failed to invest in the already thriving Translation Company, Applied Language Solutions. Gavin Wheeldon was denied investment after giving a bold pitch asking for £250,000 to invest in global expansion, in return for just 4% of the business; the lowest ever known on Dragon’s Den.
Gavin said, “I’m not a man afraid to take risks, but facing the Dragons was at times intimidating, particularly as I was only offering a 4% share in the company. I was in the den for a total of 90 minutes but I managed to negotiate my way through the tough questions by focusing on the massive and organic growth Applied Language has enjoyed since 2003.”
The Dragons did not deny they were impressed with Gavin’s entrepreneurial skills. Theo Paphitis described Gavin as an “intelligent and very capable” man and Duncan Bannatyne was also very impressed. He saw a very risky but money-making investment opportunity.

Impressed with Gavin’s business acumen and cheeky sales attitude, Duncan made him an offer on the proviso Richard Farleigh would match it but Richard Farleigh decided it wasn’t for him. Richard was distinctively shocked at the offer of just a 4% share and told Gavin he was running a “Copycat business in a super competitive Industry” and, in their eyes, he had greatly overvalued his company.” Following this Duncan admitted, “Gavin, I think you’ll probably prove all the Dragons wrong ??" even me. And I think you’ll do tremendously well.”

Duncan Bannatyne was right. The events that followed have proved that sometimes even the most successful entrepreneurs can fail to recognise an excellent idea when it is right in front of them. They have admitted as much, as they have described Applied Language as “The one that got away” in the first Dragons Den book, ‘Success from pitch to profit’.

A year on from filming and despite not securing investment, Gavin’s business has enjoyed phenomenal success. Since the dreaded den, several venture capitalists have approached Gavin Wheeldon eager to invest. The latest offer has been, $12million (£6million) in exchange for a 25% share in the Translation Company valuing Applied Language Solutions at an incredible $48 million (£25million). This figure is far removed from the £6 million Gavin valued it at on the BBC2 programme. Just one year on and had they chosen to invest, the Dragons would have made a phenomenal 300% profit.

“The recent success we have achieved is testament to our hard work as a company. With the new venture capitalist valuing the company at £25 million I am sure the Dragons will be deeply regretful. They have clearly missed out on a fantastic investment opportunity.”

Applied Language Solutions success has come from winning major contracts for Yahoo, Dell, Google, Nike, United Nations and 60 NHS Bodies. Expansion has been seen in all areas of the business with the addition of over 30 staff and the introduction of professional face-to-face and instant telephone interpreting to their services portfolio.

What's more, unlike many entrepreneurs that appeared before him, Gavin Wheeldon has stayed true to the pitch he delivered to the Dragons. Throughout the last year the Company has now opened two new offices in Asia situated in India and China and a new office in Chicago, USA. They also plan to open an additional Asian office in Singapore early next year.

Many of the candidates who were successful in securing investment in the Den have not been as fortunate in business and have certainly not seen such significant growth. Several of the companies are still at the pre-launch stage or have simply not expanded at all. Furthermore many deals made with companies such as, Eggxactly and Umbrolly fell through shortly after the programme. Just how good are the five elite business entrepreneurs at spotting the ‘next big thing’?

Gavin has shown that you can get where you want through sheer hard work and determination. Despite not being able to speak any foreign tongues, Gavin runs a highly successful translation and interpretation company that provides professional translation and interpretation in over 150 languages, has 9 offices worldwide and a 90-strong team.

Applied Language Solutions translate all kinds of documents from simple letters to large technical documents, including whole websites and printed catalogues, for specialist Medical, Legal, Financial and Marketing organisations. The company is committed to using only professional in-country translators and interpreters, of whom they have over 14,000 on their books. These translators work in over 150 languages including all the major European, Asian, African, Middle Eastern and American languages.

Applied Language have received many awards for their performance over the last year including the 2007 National Business Awards "Small to Medium Sized Business of the Year", the "HSBC Start-up Star" in November 2006. They are also currently nominated for four awards at The Chamber Awards 2007 including, Entrepreneur of the Year Award and Most Promising New Business Award.
Company: Applied Language Solutions
Contact Name: jmcdermott
Contact Email: jmcdermott@appliedlanguage.com
Contact Phone: 08702250243

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