BoBo Buddies and the Dragons
Last month some of you might have seen talented young entrepreneur, James Roupell, doing battle with the protagonists of BBC's Dragons' Den. Following an assured presentation of his company's products, the very attractive and eminently practical BoBo Buddies backpacks for kids, all five dragons promptly proceeded to make offers of investment.
Now those of you who watch the show will know this is a highly unusual situation as the normal scenario involves a procession of trembling applicants, the cameras zooming in on the victims' faces as beads of perspiration erupt into rivulets as they struggle to recall how many products they have sold during the last year (if any) what a balance sheet is or why on earth they have subjected themselves to this, the ultimate form of public humiliation, in the first place. Invariably the crestfallen applicant is booted unceremoniously from the Den with Cyril, the remotely operated seal or some other contraption they were certain would save humanity, forlornly under their arm.
Whole programs seem to pass without a flicker of interest from any Dragon in the hopefuls' schemes and the piles of neatly stacked £50 notes on offer remain defiantly unplundered. So it was with considerable interest after James's pitch, we watched not just one but all five battle it out to get him to choose them. What impressed me most was the skill and calm manner with which he negotiated with what after all, are five battle hardened and highly successful business folk.
The story does not end there however. Having made his choice of Dragons (for the record Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones) James began to rue the amount of equity he had given up in return for the investment. The money required was for short term finance and being a relatively new company, the banks would not lend to him. After recording the show James spoke to a trusted advisor in retail who proceeded to raise the finance from alternative sources without James having to give up any equity in his company. James duly informed the disappointed Dragon duo who wished him well and asked to be kept informed of his progress.
The buzz created by the Dragons' Den episode did BoBo Buddies no harm at all however. I am told that after the show, the term "BoBo Buddies" was more frequently Googled than either of the two "oscars" : the Oscar Pistorius trial (I was going to write "Utterly Preposterous" there for some reason) or the Oscar Awards, both events dominating the front pages at the time.
We met James at the Spring Fair at the NEC back in February and were so taken with his delightful characters we immediately placed an order. So what are BoBo buddies? Their inspiration came from an air trip he made a couple of years back. He was aware of all the soft toys and blankets the young children on the flight had scattered around them and then he had a flash of inspiration. His grandmother had sewed a blanket into a favorite toy when he was young - why not refine this idea?
The result of this brainwave was the Blanket Back Pack - a selection of toy characters made of super soft material with a cuddly blanket inside and elastic straps so that it can be carried as a back pack and the smaller companion,the Toddler Backpack made of the same soft material with plenty of space inside for the little owners' essential travel items and with the additional benefit of reins. Both can be used as pillows - even without the blanket. We stock both lines at heartsdeco.com.
The feedback from delighted parents who have bought these backpacks from us so far has been fantastic and they report that their little ones have become inseparable from their new, ultra cuddly BoBo friends.