Hornit founder Tom de Pelet may have been rebuffed on Dragons’ Den on Sunday, but his business is going from strength to strength with sales forecast to reach £1.2 million this year.
The former lawyer came up with what he says is the world’s loudest bicycle horn, which can reach 140 decibels, due to his experience of commuting by bike in London, reports the Evening Standard.
The 36-year-old told the newspaper: “I had so many near-misses while commuting and Ironman-training on London’s streets, and one frustration kept popping up: if a driver hasn’t noticed me and I’m in danger, I need something to make them see me.”
After giving up his job in 2011, he put £60,000 into the business but when the first batch of products arrived from the manufacturer, he found that four in five of them were faulty.
He said: “I used the 20 per cent of the units that were OK to start selling in the UK and online, and sending samples round the world and endless chasing.”
The Dragons’ Den episode was filmed in spring last year and in the following 10 months, the business’s turnover was £500,000 and is on target to his £1.2 million this year.
Mr De Pelet said: “Being in the Den was a mixture of fear, terror and enjoyment. You put your life and soul into your business and the programme has the potential to turn it and you into object of ridicule in a few moments.
“But with hindsight, the outcome of my encounter with the Dragons could not have been better."
You can catch this week’s episode on BBC iPlayer here, with Hornit featuring 29 minutes 30 seconds into the show.
It’s the second time this month that a cycling-related business has been on the programme. The 8 February episode had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from Green Oil.
In a Facebook post, the company said that the 5 seconds’ airtime it got, with not so much as a single product shot, was less than had been promised by the programme’s producers. It was not mentioned by name at all.
It added that the days of work involved in preparing for the show, including putting accounts and a business plan together, was a “complete waste of time.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.