Umbrolly: The Story of UK’s First Umbrella Vending Machine on Dragons’ Den and Beyond

Dragons’ Den Series 1 Episode 1: Umbrolly’s Successful Pitch Takes the Den by Storm

Dragons’ Den is a famous BBC reality programme where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to five multimillionaire investors called Dragons. Dragons’ Den’s first episode aired on 4 January 2005, featuring Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne, Rachel Elnaugh, Simon Woodroffe and Doug Richard as Dragons.

The BBC series began with a great start. In the first episode, Charles Ejogo, a British entrepreneur, pitched his brilliant innovation Umbrolly vending concept on the Dragons’ Den. Charles describes Umbrolly as a niche business that offers the world’s first and only umbrella vending machine. Yes, you read it right! Ejogo’s invention Umbrolly is an umbrella and multimedia vending machine. Moreover, Umbrella is a necessity, especially in the unpredictable weather of the UK. Thus, Charles invented Umbrolly to solve the problem people face during rain.

Journey of Umbrolly on Dragons’ Den

Charles came up with the idea when once he had to walk home in the rain. Additionally, the umbrella vending machine Umbrolly also has an LCD screen on the front, through which the company displays high-quality adverts. Interestingly, the vending machine lasts for five years and doesn’t cost a lot. Charles asked for a £150k investment in exchange for 20% equity in the business. Moreover, the price of Umbrolly is £2, which is cheaper than other companies and competitors. Ejogo plans to install 300 umbrella vending machines having LCD screens displaying premium advertisements in the London underground for at least 12 years.

 All the Dragons were excited by Ejogo’s offer and called the product terrific. The entrepreneur said he expects at least 60-70% profit. Simon Woodroffe and Doug Richard thought Ejogo’s valuation and profit expectations were unrealistic and said they were out. Peter Jones offered to invest £75k for a 22% stake in the company. Duncan Banytane joined Peter’s offer, and both the dragons made a combined offer to invest £150k for a 44% equity.

Charles thought that Peter and Duncan were asking for too much equity. So, he asked Doug Richard to invest £150k in Umbrolly for 30% equity, but Richard refused. After a tough negotiation and fiery argument with Banytane, Ejogo accepted Peter’s and Duncan’s offer. The duo invested £75k each for combined 40% equity.

Also Read: Best Innovations and Ideas by British Women Entrepreneurs

What Happened to Umbrolly After the Show

After seven months, the deal between Charles and the Dragons collapsed. However, Ejogo took Peter’s advice and established a new company without his original business partners.