Dragons' Den: Couple had all dragons vying for share in company on

NHS nurse who set up a skincare business after getting cracked hands at work wins over all five judges Dragons’ Den – and impress viewers by negotiating one of the biggest equity climb-downs in the show’s history

  • Jonny and Antonia Philip put need for NHS workers at the core of their handwash
  • Couple asked dragons for £75,000 in exchange for 1.5% of their skincare range
  • Ended up with a full house of dragons fighting for a share in their business
  • Couple appeared on tonight’s episode of BBC One’s Dragons’ Den 

An NHS nurse who set up a skincare business after getting cracked hands at work had all five dragons vying for a share in her company on Dragons’ Den.

In tonight’s episode of the brand new series, which aired on BBC One, UK-based husband and wife Jonny and Antonia Philip – co-founders of skincare brand called Nursem – offered a benevolent pitch which put compassion before cash.  

Speaking to all five dragons, Jonny explained that they were pitching for £75,000 in return for 1.5 per cent equity – before ending up with a full house of dragons fighting for a share in their business.

And viewers were left more than impressed when the couple secured the money they were asking for after negotiating one of the most impressive equity climb-downs in Dragons’ Den history.

One gobsmacked viewer deemed it the best ‘hustle’ they had ever seen on the BBC show, while another described it as a ‘cut throat negotiation’. 

On Dragon’s Den, UK-based husband and wife Jonny and Antonia Philip (above) – co-founders of skincare brand Nursem – offered a benevolent pitch which put compassion before cash

Appearing on the programme, Antonia explained: ‘The idea behind Nursem happened a number of years ago when I was working as a busy pediatric nurse. 

‘On average, I’d be washing my hands up to 50-60 times a day. It was during this time, my hands became cracked, dry, and at times bled and resulted in me taking two weeks off work for them to recover.’

Jonny continued: ‘While Antonia was off work, we discovered there was a real lack in the market place for a natural, yet effective product targeted towards people with hard-working hands. 

So working with some expert cosmetic laboratories, this is the product we’ve developed which is available today. Nursem is available in Boots, Lloyds pharmacy and many other prominent UK retailers.’

Viewers were left more than impressed when the couple secured the money they were asking for after negotiating one of the most impressive equity climb-downs in Dragons’ Den history

During the show, Jonny explained to the dragons that not wanting to lose sight of the reason they set Nursem up in the first place, they created something call the Nursem promise.

‘For every product we sell at retail, we then provide a month-worth of free handcare back to a nurse, midwife or other healthcare professional in the NHS,’ explained Jonny.

Deborah was the first dragon up, and after pointing out that the range already seemed like a success story before Covid-19, she then homed straight in on the couple’s valuation. 

‘£75,000 for 1.5 per cent of the business sounds quite racy, so I’m hoping you’re going to be able to give me some pretty good numbers to back that up,’ she said.

One gobsmacked viewer deemed it the best ‘hustle’ they had ever seen on the BBC show, while another described it as a ‘cut throat negotiation’

A knowledgeable Jonny responded: ‘So last year’s turnover for 2019 was £142,000 with a loss of £18,000, year to date so far we’ve turned over £800,000 with a net of £200,00 and our full year forecast for the whole of 2020 is £1.5million with a net of £312,000.’

Spectacular sales have helped support the company’s £5million valuation, usually a red flag to a dragon, but Touker Suleyman expressed long-term concerns for the business.

‘Call it what you want, but at the end of the day it’s a hand cream,’ he said. ‘You’ve got that little bit of what I call “Covid magic” going in your favour, but without the Covid, where would this business balance out at?’

Jonny replied: ‘I don’t think the way people view hand washing will change any time soon – not just in the UK but internationally too.’  

Speaking to all five dragons, Jonny said they were pitching for £75,000 in return for 1.5% equity – before ending up with a full house of dragons fighting for a share in their business

Jonny and Antonia’s acumen and ethos proved to be a potent formula in the den – and even seemed to win over Peter Jones who initially offered all of the money – but in return for 10 per cent of the company due to concerns over the couple’s valuation.

Competing with the offer Peter Jones put on the table, Touker Suleyman asked for the same 10 per cent share of equity, but upped the cash offer to £100,000. 

Also keen to place an offer, Sara Davies explained to the couple that their biggest potential with the skincare range would be in the US market.

‘And that’s a journey that I’ve been on personally and I think that’s something I can really help and support with,’ she continued. ‘Honestly, I think that’s where you need the help and support more than here in the UK because you seem to have everything sorted out.

With all dragons deadlocked at 5 per cent, and agreeing it’ll go down to 3 per cent once they get their money back, Jonny finally announced the winning dragon, Tej Lalvani (pictured)

So I’d like to make you an offer. I’d like to offer you all of the money, for 8% of the business.’  

Deborah Meaden and Touker Suleyman then swooped in with the same matching undercutting bid – offering the couple all of the money, but for 5% of the business.

In response to the offers, Jonny circled back to Peter Jones and asked whether he’d be willing to match Deborah and Touker’s offer, to which he and the other dragons all agreed they would.

With all dragons deadlocked at 5%, and agreeing it’ll go down to 3% once they get their money back, Jonny finally announced the winning dragon and said: ‘We’ve decided to accept Tej Lalvani’s offer.’ 

Many of those watching were left stunned by the negotiation, with one writing: ”The nurses on Dragon’s den! What a pair of professional hustlers. Well done #DragonsDen.

A second penned: ‘Most amazing negotiation that I’ve ever seen on Dragons Den. Well done and good luck!’ 

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