A chocolatier has managed to impress the formidable panel of business moguls on BBC 2’s latest season of Dragons’ Den.
Linus Gorpe is the mastermind behind The Raw Chocolate Company, based in Henfield, which specialises in fairtrade, organic, vegan chocolate.
It was Linus’ innovative range of products and good business sense that caught the attention of panellist Deborah Meaden.
“I gave them each a little jar with four different products in it so they could munch while I asked them questions,” he said.
Wanting to impress, Linus said he studied episodes from the show including the American, Canadian and Australian versions.
He said: “That gave me a very clear idea of what they were looking for. I also spent lots of time in my accounts looking at my numbers.”
However, nerves almost got the better of the chocolate expert as he was ushered into a room with other hopefuls before meeting the five judges on set.
“The anxiety I was feeling – I didn’t know why it was there because there was nothing life threatening. Maybe it’s just life force energy moving through me, which is enabling me to grow. I thought, how can I use this in a positive way. I started dancing to calm myself down,” he said.
A self confessed lover of chocolate, Linus has built an impressive reputation for using unusual ingredients like mulberries, physalis and goji berries to create unique taste sensations.
Once the Dragons were ready to see him, Linus entered a room greeted by Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones, Nick Jenkins, Sarah Willingham and Touker Suleyman.
“They were all really nice. They asked me a lot of questions and when I didn’t know the answer I just asked them to repeat it,” he said.
Upon entering the Den, Linus asked for £72,000 for five per cent shares in his company. It was not long before Deborah offered to provide the full sum, but for ten per cent.
However, Nick decided to counterwith an offer of half the money for four per cent shares, and Touker said he would put up the rest for six per cent.
“Peter then said I’m going to offer you £90,000; however, I want 20 per cent of your business, and Touker said can I make an offer of £100,000 for 20 per cent! I said no.
“Debra knew I wasn’t there for the money, I was there for personal development reasons and to expose the chocolate company to the masses. I wasn’t interested in their higher offers,” he said.
Linus accepted Debra’s offer and is currently waiting for a routine investigation before the deal is officially sealed.
Linus was already in the process of moving into a bigger premises before appearing on the show and is developing new, exciting products.
“I have a new brand that I’m working on that will be launched in April 2016. It’s more of a gift range of chocolate bars that have different flavours that does not look like The Raw Chocolate Company,” he said.
The products have recently launched in 400 Holland and Barrett stores across the UK. The brand is also available in Australia, Sweden and Japan.
“I feel really good,” said Linus. “I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who works and has worked for the company. Also a special mention to Infinity Foods in Brighton. They were the first to stock my stuff.”
You can watch the episode on BBC iPlayer. For more details, visit www.therawchocolatecompany.com
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