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Most Successful Female Dragons Den Turnover Millions

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Den Deal I’m one of the most successful women to appear on Dragon’s Den – now I turnover £10m a year & live in a six-bed home

SHE’S one of the most successful woman to appear on Dragons’ Den and now turns over £10m a year with her recycled packaging company.

But life wasn’t always easy for entrepreneur Rachel Watkyn, 52, from Sussex, who has had a “rags to riches” journey after starting her business in the bedroom at her parents’ house.

Rachel Watkyn appeared on Dragons’ Den in 2008 impressed Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis so much they invested £60,000 in her idea

Rachel now turns over £10m a year

In 2008, she appeared on Dragons’ Den to pitch her Tiny Box Company business and won backing from two of the Dragons’, and has now created a multi-million-pound brand with 100 staff.

Speaking to Fabulous, Rachel said: “I definitely didn’t have a normal childhood – just putting it lightly. I never knew normal.

“I was taken into care at eight months old until the age of three, when I was returned to three parents – long story, but there were a lot of mental health issues between the three of them, and it was a very dysfunctional dynamic.

“We never had money; I vividly remember digging through a pile of clothes on the floor in front of the washing machine, trying to find the cleanest shirt with the least mould on it.

“I was called ‘fleabag’ at school.”

She ended up living in 13 different houses and going to nine different schools.

Despite this start in life, Rachel was determined to be successful and to not “go back to a place of financial insecurity.”

She said: “It was by pure chance that Tiny Box Company was created.

“I originally started a Fairtrade-type jewellery business and when I had to consider my packaging options, I found that no one was producing eco-friendly, good quality packaging in small quantities for the average small business.

“That’s when I found the gap in the market and decided to fill it – with Tiny Boxes.

“I started in my bedroom at my parents’ house, which lasted about six months.

“My parents lived in tied accommodation which didn’t allow business activity and a trustee found out, so I was forced to get my first proper office and throw myself into it fully.

“A lot of hard grafting and late nights helped expand operations. We grew quite quickly, even before Dragons’ Den.”

She said her first lot of stock cost £4,000 and she sold “everything she had” to raise the money.

Tiny Box was launched in 2007, but Rachel acknowledged that she needed help for the business to grow.

It was actually Rachel’s business partner Robin who applied for the hit BBC show, behind her back.

She said: “It wasn’t my idea at all!

“I didn’t know Tiny Box was even in the running for Dragons’ Den until I got the call from the BBC asking what I wanted the investment for.

“My business partner Robin had applied without telling me because he knew I never would’ve gone for it otherwise.”

In 2008, Rachel stood in front of the Dragons and impressed Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis so much they invested £60,000 in her idea.

Speaking of the filming experience, she said: “What most people don’t realise is that you’re in the den for over two hours being grilled on every minute detail of your business.

“That’s when you get the verbal ‘yes’ but after that you sit down and everything is scrutinised in even finer detail.

“The Dragons were terrifying – if you’ve seen any episode of the show, you’ve seen how intense it is for the contestants.

“After a long interrogation and believing I would walk away without investment, I received £30,000 from Peter and the same from Theo, for 20 per cent each.”

When she found she was getting the investment, Rachel said she “blacked out briefly” from excitement.

The entrepreneur added: “We had a detailed strategy meeting after, but the show didn’t air until about six months later.

“We continued trading as normal, then literally one minute after the show aired, our website crashed because we had so much traffic coming in.

“The show definitely gave us credibility, which can be really difficult to gain as a small business.”

Rachel confirmed Peter and Theo still own their shares in Tiny Box Company and they “keep in touch regularly.”

Huge success for Rachel came in 2021 when she first hit £10million in turnover.

She added: “Lockdown was a stressful time, with so many businesses having to lay off their staff, but it meant that a lot of side hustles turned into full time businesses, and those businesses all needed packaging, so we managed to secure a lot of new customers.

It is now one of the UK’s largest online green gift packaging firms and has changed Rachel’s life imaginably.

She explained: “Money definitely helps in terms of comfort.

“I’ve been able to buy a beautiful house with my husband and enjoy travelling whenever my schedule permits.

“My life now is literally the polar opposite to my upbringing.

“My life is far more predictable and stable. I have a husband who keeps me on the straight and narrow. Most importantly, I have love.

“Even if I have nothing else, I feel loved. That’s the biggest thing.”

Rachel shows no signs of slowing down and even runs a second business now, Know The Origin, which allows consumers to swap household items for a more sustainable version.

Rachel urged other women who are wanting to start a business to take the plunge.

She said: “If you have no money, start as a side hustle and work your way up. Or find friendly investors!

“Tiny Box runs free clinics for people needing to talk through their business ideas or just want some advice on branding, marketing etc. The first question I always ask is ‘What do you want from your business?

“‘Where do you want to end up?’ You need a plan – even if it’s a rough outline written on a gum wrapper.

“You’ve always got to have the end in mind when you start anything. Once you have the vision, you can do whatever is needed to get there.”

Rachel received £30,000 investment from Peter and the same from Theo

Tiny Box Company is now one of the UK’s largest online green gift packaging firms and has changed Rachel’s life imaginably

Rachel confirmed Peter and Theo still own their shares in Tiny Box Company and they ‘keep in touch regularly’

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