Harpenden dads who met at primary school seek Dragons' Den investment

Chris Burdett and Alex Lever took their product PipeSnug into the Den on BBC One

Chris Burdett and Alex Lever took their product PipeSnug into the Den on BBC One - Credit: BBC Studios

Two Harpenden dads have made their bid for a once-in-a-lifetime investment on Dragons' Den.

Alex Lever and Chris Burdett, who met at their children's Hertfordshire primary school, are the brains behind PipeSnug, a plastic disc plugs the gap around pipes as they transition through walls.

The duo met at their kids' school in Harpenden, and they soon got talking about Chris' idea

The duo met at their kids' school in Harpenden, and they soon got talking about Chris' idea - Credit: PipeSnug

They were the stars of Dragons' Den on BBC One last night (Thursday, March 31), when took their gadget onto the show in the hope of securing a £100,000 investment from one of Britain's most prolific entrepreneurs in exchange for a 7.5 percent slice of their business.

"Chris and I met when my children started at a new school in Harpenden," Alex told the Herts Ad.

"There were a few events for new starters and parents which I went along to.

"At one event, we were the only two dads there, so we struck up a friendship.

"Chris - who has more than 30 years' experience in the construction trade - eventually told me about his idea, and I thought I could help to make it work."

Alex, who has managed several teams at large tech firms in the City, set about crunching the numbers and trying to get Chris' idea patented.

Most Read

He said: "Chris does a lot of extensions, and he was finding that it involved removing and moving pips, which often meant drilling new holes in walls and finding gaping cracks in certain joins.

"Expanding foam and mortar can plug gaps, but they are not usually sustainable or all that long lasting.

"It's a simple bit of plastic, but it took about 18 months to get it sorted."

PipeSnug is designed to be a durable way of keeping damp and cold air out of homes and buildings, Alex Lever said

PipeSnug is designed to be a durable way of keeping damp and cold air out of homes and buildings, Alex Lever said - Credit: PipeSnug

"PipeSnug, not Pipe Mug"

PipeSnug launched its first product in 2017, and the firm has an international patent for the ring of plastic, which prevents cold and damp from seeping in through external walls.

Alex and Chris took their product, which is made in Britain, into the Den to take their firm to the next level.

They revealed that in their first year of trading, the twosome made £20,000 in sales with a £13,000 net loss.

"This is PipeSnug, not pipe mug" - Peter Jones

"This is PipeSnug, not pipe mug" - Peter Jones - Credit: BBC Studios

They also made losses in years two and three, but had recouped £2,000 in profits in the fourth year by the time they had appeared on Dragons' Den.

"This is PipeSnug, not pipe mug," said Peter Jones, whose portfolio includes the Levi Roots brand and photography retailer Jessops.

"There's something not quite right here."

But it was Touker Suleyman who was the first to decline the Harpenden duo's proposition, followed by Sara Davies and Steven Bartlett.

Touker Suleyman was the first Dragon to take themselves out of the negotiations

Touker Suleyman was the first Dragon to take themselves out of the negotiations - Credit: BBC

"An investment in something I find really boring"

Deborah Meaden warned: "This ranges from selling very little indeed, to absolutely cleaning up!"

Peter Jones added: "I'm sort of sitting here thinking I don't want to miss something.

"It's sort of like I'm sitting in Las Vegas. This will be the first time that I've made an investment in something that I find really boring."

Alex and Chris eventually accepted an offer from Meaden and Jones together - of £100,000 for 30 percent of their firm.

Alex celebrated securing the investment: "We want to make sure Peter Jones hits the jackpot."

In the end, Deborah Meaden (pictured) and Peter Jones when into business with the Hertfordshire duo

In the end, Deborah Meaden (pictured) and Peter Jones when into business with the Hertfordshire duo - Credit: BBC Studios

The businessman told the Herts Ad that the secret to success is making sure that new products fill a genuine gap in the market - or hole in the wall.

Alex said: "I would say definitely explore the market and your competitors.

"Look at all the avenues of solving the problem that you have at hand.

"One of the first things we looked at was protection and the patent - without it, our product could have been copied by a construction giant.

"Most importantly, speak to people - patent lawyers, who are certainly worth their weight and protect years' of hard work from being ripped from under you, but also people around you who can support the process."

Dragons' Den is on BBC iPlayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006vq92

More information about PipeSnug is online: https://pipesnug.co.uk/