Pioneering Yorkshire-based start-up, Sea Chips, turned its back on an offer from multi-millionaire, Touker Suleyman, on BBC Two’s Dragon’s Den, which aired on TV last night (Sunday 3 February). Co-founder, Daniel Pawson, sniffed at the £30,000 offer for a whopping 35% of the company and walked away empty handed – but went on to secure the backing of a leading salmon-industry mogul, Jonathan Brown, to scale their business.
Jonathan Brown is a mentoring owner of some of the most successful private-label smoked salmon brands in the world and previous owner of MacKnight Foods. After noticing the high-level attention they were receiving on Instagram, he approached the duo stating he was eager to help them bring their ground-breaking business idea to the next level.
Just two months after appearing on the hit-show, filmed back in February 2018, Sea Chips sealed the deal and the investment from Jonathan has helped it to secure a state-of-the-art factory in Cumbria, as well as getting the right mentorship it needs to grow the business. The new factory has the highest global accreditation, bespoke equipment and an on-premise technical team that it is hoped will enable it to scale its business and meet the demands of current retailers. The company is now on a path to hit £1m revenue within the next 18 months
Sea Chips is the UK’s first ever salmon skin crisp company addressing the global issue of food waste by using the often-wasted but nutrient-packed salmon skin to create a healthier alternative to potato chips. Available in a range of flavours, including Lightly Salted, Lime & Chilli and Salt & Vinegar, the company also donates 10% of all profits to ocean charities that work to keep the sea clean.
Daniel Pawson, Co-founder of Sea Chips, commented: “Appearing on Dragon’s Den was a great experience and exposure opportunity for us but we really didn’t feel Touker was passionate about or understood Sea Chips enough. We simply couldn’t see how he could benefit us to warrant such a large portion of our company (35%) when we were offering just 10%.
“We were looking for a strategic investor and Jonathan had more relevant experience than all of the Dragons. He also hit the headlines in 2017 when he hired five private jets to help get necessary supplies to the Caribbean island of Dominica, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria just days before – we knew he was the kind of man we wanted to be in business with.
“Our new factory in Cumbria is a huge step for growth in our business and Jonathan has given us a number of new buyer connections, as well as support with marketing costs. Jonathan has also made the move from Miami to Cumbria to put more focus on the business, for which we are wholly grateful.”
Jonathan Brown commented: “When I met Dan and Dom, I was immediately impressed by their passion for something I had spent 35 years to learn and how they had managed to turn salmon skin into something so delicious. I knew I wanted to help them from the off-set and was blown away by the amazing results you can get if you put the time into development.
“I am very proud of them both for their dedication, honest passion and for making a partnership between us happen so seamlessly. We are all very excited about the taking Sea Chips to the next level and I look forward to helping them develop the marketing and export side of the business.”
Sea Chips is currently available to buy in Harrods, Fenwick, Whole Foods Market and on Amazon and is keen to grow further in retail, health food stores and in restaurant and bars in 2019.