Having entered into a market that neither Patrick Gavin nor Chris Bibby knew anything about, they and the rest of the Blooming Simple team have made every sacrifice required from an entrepreneur to make their Card Vase business a success.
Creating a unique, innovative and patented product, Card Vase combines the gesture of giving a greeting card and flowers in one convenient gift. Each vase features a design for any occasion, just like a greeting card, such as Happy Birthday, New Born, With Love, and includes a writing panel to personalise the gift.
After securing a license deal with Carte Blanche to produce a Me To You range, creating vases for the world’s largest foil manufacture Anagram International, partnering with a US distributor to supply to Walmart, Majier, Hy-Vee, plus other grocery chains, Patrick and Chris felt it was time to find an investor who could help finance the growing business and open doors. This is when they decided to apply for Dragon’s Den.
Having almost forgotten about his application, Patrick was pleased to receive a call from the BBC informing him that Blooming Simple has been invited to audition. With only 1 day to prepare a pitch and arrange for the necessary props, Patrick and Chris were heading off to the BBC studios.
The pitch went surprisingly well with only 6 takes (the first was good enough but just to be sure), Patrick and Chris now just had to wait and see if the producers liked the audition. Sure enough, in a matter of weeks, they received the call to say they have been invited to Manchester to pitch in front of the Dragon’s.
Rising at 5:00am in Manchester, the morning of the shoot was spent rehearsing the pitch, going over the figures and imagining any kind of question that would be asked, so that they would be fully prepared for any questions. With suits dry cleaned, hair trimmed and shoes shining, Patrick and Chris were ready for the day.
They were told to be prepared for a long day and, after setting up props, the morning was spent meeting the other entrepreneurs and finding out about their businesses. As the day goes on, one by one, and in no predetermined order, the entrepreneurs are called up to enter the Den, until eventually Blooming Simple are called in to the Den.
Feeling surprisingly confident and relatively calm, Patrick and Chris deliver what they feel is a faultless pitch, asking for £100,000 for 10% equity in their business, detailing the success of the business, the various markets and revenue streams, the Me To You licensed designs and distribution in America, the hardest part is now over….. or so they thought.
Patrick and Chris are now ready for the Dragons comments, which consist of Peter Jones describing them as ‘likely lads’ and questioning some of the figures, Piers Linney wondering if we have any concerns about the patent and Kelly Hoppen, Deborah Meaden and Duncan Bannatyne suggesting that if we had entered the Den with a better evaluation of the business, we may well have secured a Dragon or two. Unable to secure the investment they required, Patrick and Chris left the Den feeling disappointed, but not disheartened.
Overall, the product received praise. Kelly could see Card Vase selling in the supermarkets, Peter suggested that we need to focus more on licensing, Piers liked the balloon and vase combination and Deborah said we gave a good pitch.
However, since leaving the Den, Patrick and Chris have had a successful meeting with a major supermarket who has proposed a trial and, based on the success of Card Vase, could then be rolled out to 250 stores. They have also appointed a UK distributor, Paperlinx Retail, to handle UK operations. Paperlinx have also presented Card Vase to the supermarkets, receiving enthusiastic and positive responses. They are now in the process of producing a new range of designs and displays to present to the major UK retailers.
Paperlinx will also be exhibiting Card Vase at the NEC Autumn Fair in September (Hall 4 – Stand 4B27).
With the exposure from the show and interest from the supermarkets, Blooming Simple hope that Card Vase will become a recognised brand in the card, gift and floral markets, making all their hard work and sacrifice ‘blooming’ worth it!