Dragons' Den success story: The 19-year-old running his third business

BusinessZone
Dan Martin
Former editor
BusinessZone.co.uk
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Despite being aged only 19, Jordan Daykin is running his third business, the idea for which he had when he was just 13. On this week's episode of BBC TV's Dragons' Den, the entrepreneur secured £80,000 investment from Deborah Meaden for his company, Grip It Fixings, which is stocked in more than 1,000 UK stores and sold in Germany and Belgium with a patent pending in the US. Daykin also also set up RS2Services, inspired by his love of online fantasy role-playing game Runscape, and tutoring agency, Tutor Magnet

BusinessZone caught up with the teenage business owner to find out more about his experiences on the show, and what it's like to run companies at such a young age.

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What is Grip It and how did you come up with the idea?
Grip It is a new universal plasterboard fixing that holds extreme loads of up to 180kg. The idea came about when I was just 13 and my granddad was 73 and we were struggling to fit a curtain rail and black out blinds. After breaking four drill bits, we went in to his garden shed and that's when Grip It was invented.
What challenges did you have to overcome when starting the business?
The main challenge was getting the product produced at the right price and in the right timescale. After this I faced the challenge of marketing the product and getting retailers on board.
Why did you decide to go on Dragons' Den? Talk us through the experience.
The whole idea came about one night when I was sat brainstorming the next steps as we had already contacted all the UK buying groups and were awaiting feedback. The next step was to tackle Europe and then head for the US. I was watching Dragons' Den one night and thought if I could get a dragon on board with their expertise and contacts, we could get the product abroad in no time at all where me on my own would take 10 times as long. I applied in December 2013 and appeared on the show in February 2014.
Were you happy that Deborah Meaden was the one to make you an offer?
Before the Den and having done my research, I knew that Deborah has a lot of marketing experience and an endless list of contacts so when she made an offer that was close to the figure I had in mind it was a no brainer as to have her on board is priceless.
You managed to negotiate a smaller equity share than Deborah first wanted. How did you do that?
I asked Deborah if she could meet me half way at 25% as this was my original set maximum before going into the Den. I even stated that if it was the money she was concerned about I could guarantee it as the business was already self funding. She then said she would like to meet me half way because she wanted us to both be happy with the deal and that she wasn't interested on the guarantee as she doesn't go in to a business thinking about how can she get her investment back.
How involved is Deborah in your business?
Deborah has been very involved so far and has already opened up many contacts such as Sainsbury's and Tesco. We are in touch at least once a day via email or telephone and she has been very hands on with suggestions and ideas.
What business advice has she given you so far?
The biggest piece of advice so far given to me by Deborah is that when I was worrying about stock due to the company growing from 500 stores to 1,400 in a matter of months she said not to worry about saying to people they are going to have to wait as there's no shame in the product being in demand and waiting for a good product.
What challenges did you face starting your first and second businesses at such a young age? How did you overcome them?
As they were both web-based businesses, they were not that hard to manage and market. My age was not really an issue because over the phone no one knew how old I was. However, with Grip It Fixings I would go to meetings age 15 and people would ask me where my car was in the car park. I'd say "I'm getting picked up in a minute."
Why did you leave school so early? Do you think schools are good at teaching business skills?
After my parents break up when I was just 9, I moved in with my Dad who then moved out to work in West Africa. When I was 13 I went to live with my grandparents. After leaving Warminster Prep School I couldn't find a secondary school I liked so I managed to persuade them to let me have private tutoring from home which I did for a few months. On the back of finding tutors for myself, I started my own tutoring agency Tutor Magnet. As I wasn’t in secondary school for business studies, I can't comment on school teaching skills but I think you cannot beat doing it yourself.
Do you think more teenagers should start their own businesses rather than go to university or college? What can be done to support teenage entrepreneurs?
I think it's each to there own and it all depends on what people want to do with there life. If they want a big social life, a business isn't for them as they need to be prepared to put in all the hours a company needs to get it going. I think there could be more financial backing and advice provided for teenage entrepreneurs but if you start small and prove your idea first, you can grow things gradually.
What are your top tips for business success?
If you believe in something enough, go for it or you'll regret it in the future. Be confident about yourself and your product and if you receive negative comments, turn them into positive ones and make changes accordingly. Be careful about who you trust and only trust people to different extents depending on how well you actually know them.

About Dan Martin

About Dan Martin

Dan Martin has 10 years experience as a journalist writing about entrepreneurs and the issues that affect them.

After three years working as a researcher for Sky News, he joined BusinessEurope.com as a reporter. This was followed by two years working as news editor for Startups.co.uk during which time Dan also contributed to Growing Business magazine. In 2006, he joined Sift Media as business editor before being promoted to editor of BusinessZone.co.uk. He also has responsibility for UK Business Forums, the UK’s most active online forums for small business entrepreneurs. In addition, Dan founded The Pitch, BusinessZone.co.uk's nationwide competition for small business owners. He host the grand finals in 2009 and 2010 in front of an audience of 300. 

As well as interviewing many entrepreneurs, Dan has written content for leading business organisations such as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, British Chambers of Commerce, Forum of Private Business, Investors in People and Business Link for London. Among the publications that have quoted Dan are The Times, Mail On Sunday, Financial Times, Personnel Today and Bristol Evening Post. His articles have also been published by publications including eGov Monitor, Virgin Express in-flight magazine and Personal Success.

Dan regularly speaks at events about small business and social media issues. Among the events he has presented at are the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies' annual conference, Learning Technologies, Publishing Expo and World of Learning. He has also chaired high profile debates featuring senior representatives from Business Link and the Federation of Small Businesses and Dragons' Den judge James Caan.

Dan was named the 10th most influential political blogger on Twitter by the Independent and won the public award for best B2B tweeter at the Golden Twits 2010. He also organised the Bristol Twestival, part of a global Twitter driven charity initiative, in February 2009 and March 2010. Volunteers from 175 cities around the world organised events using the social network. In total, $350,000 was raised for charity: water in 2009 and $500,000 for Concern in 2010. In Bristol, £1,500 and £5,600 was raised.

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By figurewizard
21st Aug 2014 12:17

What happened to the first two businesses?

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By Dan Martin
21st Aug 2014 12:42

Very good question. I don't think the first business still operates but Tutor Magnet is still up and running. It turns over around £2,000 a month.

Dan Martin
Editor, BusinessZone.co.uk 

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