Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When Experts Are Wrong - Failed Dragons' Den Bid Takes Off


Sales of a gadget to stop tables wobbling that was laughed off by Dragons' Den business experts have now totalled half a million pounds.

One expert, Rachel Elnaugh, called the Stabletable device "the most ridiculous idea" she had ever seen.

Its Surrey inventor Andrew Gordon had the idea after drinking five pints with friends at a wobbly pub table.

He woke up with a hangover the next day and designed the gadget by cutting up a cereal box.

"The table in the pub was wobbly and someone suggested moving to a stable table," he said.

And he added that his "incredibly simple idea" was meant to be "a bit of fun".

The gadget has eight thin plastic strips which swivel out to the required thickness to stop a table wobbling.

Mr Gordon has since sold just under 500,000 Stabletables, selling three for £3.99.

The Exam Officers' Association has ordered 200,000 of the gadgets, and negotiations are under way with Tesco and B&Q.

Mr Gordon said Cambridge University and the tea room at Kensington Palace were also customers.

Speaking about his appearance on Dragons' Den, which offers ordinary people a chance to pitch their business ideas to rich but ruthless investors, he said: "It is not even good to have proved them wrong, it's just quite satisfying that it's kicked off."

'Stuck to conviction'

A BBC spokesperson added: "The dragons make their own business decisions.

"Although they didn't back Andrew, it's great that he stuck to his conviction about his product.

"Hopefully this will encourage other inventors and entrepreneurs."

The 31-year-old Scot, who lives in Camberley, appeared on the BBC programme two years ago.

The marketing manager put his idea to the panel of five experts, but Ms Elnaugh's comments were followed by a chorus of like-minded derision from the other judges.

They included telecoms tycoon Peter Jones and health club guru Duncan Bannatyne.

Red Letter Days, Ms Elnaugh's company, went into administration shortly after the show, but was thrown a lifeline by Mr Jones and more recent dragon retail guru, Theo Paphitis.

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