Paul Maden and James Findlay entered the Den in 2015 looking for £80,000 for a 15 percent stake of their business Cocoa Mountain. Cocoa Mountain is a chocolate shop is situated in Sutherland, essentially the most north westerly village on mainland UK. Additionally they sell their products online all around the world.
Their distant Scottish location had previously been a spot for “hippies” Paul told the Dragons. He said: “What happened was the hippies moved in, and after they moved on the market was an initiative to begin a craft business so the environment is us and other artisan craft businesses.”
Dragons Den star Nick Jenkins described their location alternative as a “diabolical” place to do business.
He said: “I’ve been there. It’s a beautiful place for individuals who wish to type of step out of the world, but it surely’s a diabolical place to sell a business.”
The pair began their business in 2006, however the Dragons questioned why the business had not grown quicker in nine years. Paul explained to the Dragons that the difficulty they’ve is production.
He said: “There are 200 people opened up over 200 square km.
“We are able to’t recruit enough people and hence we are able to’t grow the business. We now have turned away countless requests to produce business, we’ve needed to say no.
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“Last item you should do as a business is promise greater than you may supply.”
Nick Jenkins continued: “This can be a difficult market to crack and you’ve got created an enormous obstacle.
“I need people who find themselves hungry to do business, you’ve jut been turning it away for the last nine years.
“What this tells me is that I mustn’t be backing you. It’s not much of a phenomenon, it’s an underwhelming phenomenon.”
The pair left the Den empty handed, with none investment, nonetheless this didn’t stop them.
After Paul and James appeared on the show they were approached by greater than 80 potential investors.
“It got to the stage where I based myself down at Heathrow for 3 days interviewing them, one after the other,” said Paul.
“One guy wanted to offer us £100,000-a-year just to make use of the Cocoa Mountain name.
“But in the long run we decided to do things ourselves – not one of the investors were going to share our passion for the product or add value to it.”
The pair didn’t hand over and are actually heading towards slightly below £1million turnover.
They’ve been working across the clock, seven days-a-week to fulfil online sales of truffles with orders so far as America, Canada, Australia, Dubai, and even from Switzerland, the house of chocolate.
The entrepreneurs now have an outlet in Dornoch in Sutherland and a factory in Perth.
Nevertheless, the distant location combined with Brexit and Covid meant that Paul and James’ dream has seen some challenges.
Cocoa Mountain needed to temporarily shut because of problems attracting staff to the world.
“We needed to shut in May we just didn’t have enough staff to manage,” Paul told The Sun in 2021.
He continued: “We’re really gutted but we’d like ten people to completely open. We became a victim of our own success.
“We potentially could open with three people in July but that might be just selling chocolate bars etc – no drinks or food.
“Brexit has caused recruitment difficulties no doubt and it’s distant here. There shouldn’t be a sufficient local pool of staff.”
Dragons Den is on the market on BBC iPlayer.