Dragons’ Den — Director of Pro Gains

Tonight at 9pm on BBC2, Sunday 31st July, the second episode of the current series of Dragons’ Den aired where budding entrepreneurs pitched business ideas to multimillionaires (Season 14 Episode 2).

The present panel of judges is made up of five multimillionaire investors, Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones, Nick Jenkins, Sarah Willingham and Touker Suleyman.

On this episode the Dragons came face to face with exceptionally confident Birmingham businessman Marco Hajikypri who I personally know and he is most definitely a very passionate, determined, ambitious and driven individual.

Marco was first up on the bill out of all the entrepreneurs and has grafted with blood sweat and tears to get his diet meal delivery company, Professional (Pro) Gains off the ground since 2015. Pro Gains deliver fresh pre-prepared meals 7 days a week across the UK, Europe and USA.

He does not mince his words and delivers a firm statement to the Dragons that shows that he means business and where his aspirations lie, and simply states ‘have you ever met someone whose that ambitious who wants to be free from life and be a billionaire?’

The businessman went on to say, ‘I’ve worked hard to be where I am today and I’ve suffered alot. I’ve slept in my car. I’ve had no money. I didn’t wash for 4 days because I was that busy and I didn’t have a place to sleep. I want to be able to show people it doesn’t matter where you come from, anything is possible. Use every negative source in your life as a positive and you will never ever fail.’

Marco also said that each one of the Dragon’s has a key to success in their own mind and one of those keys is going to fit the lock to his success.

He entered the Dragons’ lair and his Pro Gains meals were nicely laid out on the table. He stood confidently in front of the Dragons, made his pitch and requested a 5 per cent investment worth £125 000 from the five investors.

Professional Gains started in January 2015 and is a tailored made nutrition company where you can order meals online. Marco stated that Professional Gains had turned over approximately £250000 since it began trading and the Pro Gains kitchen can handle 20000 units a day. Hajikypri also claimed that his current setup could turnover £25 million in the unit that he is in right now.

He provided the Dragons’ with a selection of Professional Gains proteins and showed them the menu of the 420 meal combinations that are available. Professional Gains provides tailor made nutrition for the health conscious.

Dragon, Deborah Meaden was not completely clear about the Professional Gains concept and also kept mispronouncing the company name as Pro Grains. Marco had to correct her several times.

Meaden questioned whether the company was trademarked and it became apparent that it was not. This was due to a challenge from maximuscle who have a bar called Pro Gain. Marco showed Meaden the ‘Trademark certificate’ but it was only a letter of application. Meaden was not impressed with this oversight and questioned what else Marco was was not aware of in his business. Undeterred by Meaden’s reservations and dismissive response, he said he owned the company which is making him money and it didn’t matter about the trademark.

Peter Jones then asked a series of questions around Marco’s future valuation of Pro Gains at £2.5 million. ‘I’m here to succeed and I’m going to succeed in my product. The company is worth £1 million now.’ said Marco.

I know Marco likes to accomplish things quickly and he mentions this in my video interview with him. He tells the Dragons’ the same point, ‘with you lot involved I’m going to get there quicker.’ ‘It’s gonna be worth more money with you, it’s gonna make my success quicker.’

Deborah Meaden asked Marco whether he had run other businesses in the past and he replied that he has a sales background having run bars and strip clubs abroad in places like Ayia Napa. He also mentions his future fiancee, as she is one of the pinnacle reasons that he is succeeding.

Deborah was impressed by the Birmingham entrepreneur’s hard work ethic and said that it was admirable what he had put into get the business to where it is today, however his pitch was all over the place, there was no trademark and his business was worth half of the value of what he has asked the Dragons for. For those reasons, in Meaden’s eyes Marco’s approach was not good enough and so she would not be investing in the business.

Suleyman questioned hygeine standards because he was concerned with healthy and safety issues. Marco reassured him that his kitchen is clean and recounted a story where he actually licked a surface and said to his staff the kitchen should be this clean. Suleyman decided that he could not work with this determined businessman and I presume this was down to a personality clash.

Averaging 5000 meals a week and selling them to everyone and anyone is Marco’s sales approach but Willingham, creator of restaurant chain The Bombay Bicycle Club and co-founder of The London Cocktail Club decided to opt out and not invest in the Birmingham Meal Prep business.

Dragon Nick Jenkins founder of online personalised card company Moonpig, thought that Marco didn’t need the Dragons’ money as he would thrive better without an investor and would probably drive the investor mad and vice versa. Jenkins was convinced that the healthy meal management business owner would get to where he wants without outside investment and so he decided not to invest. I also agree with Jenkins assessment.

Peter Jones was empathetic because he had also worked exceptionally hard to get his business up and running. Jones said that not many people could turnover £250000 from nothing. But Jones criticised Marco’s ambition and said that he was coming across as ridiculous because hid aspirations and dreams were not backed up by business sense. Jones wished him good luck and Marco replied to him, ‘we will meet again.’

In the post Dragons’ Den interview, the entrepreneur summed up his experience of the Dragons by saying the following, ‘I believed that they feared me, they feared my dominance. They’re Dragons but I’m a bigger dragon. I’m an evolved Dragon. That’s a powerful mindset, that I’ve got. I’m just an evolution of what they are.’

He did not receive the Dragons’ investment but he had the determination to get Professional Gains up and running. He and his fiancee slept in his car for six months, working 38 hour shifts, cooking and delivering meals to customers.

Although the company was not trademarked, that is of little concern because that issue was easily rectified. In any business there are bumps in the road and there will continue to be.

Only time will tell if Marco’s vision, grit and iron will allow him to succeed in this increasingly saturated healthy meal delivery market, where there are numerous healthy food delivery services opening up around the UK each week.


Originally published at your-cook.com.