Dragons’ Den has produced a number of incredible success stories over the years – but the biggest stars to come from the show are the investors.
The Dragons have become famous in their own right, with the current roster featuring Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones, Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies and Steven Bartlett.
Many millionaires have come and gone from the show over the last 19 series for a variety of reasons.
Some have moved on to their own solo TV projects, others have been dropped against their wishes and one put bosses in an uncomfortable position because her own company was failing.
There has also been a tragic death, as sadly it was announced on Sunday that Dragons’ Den legend Hilary Devey CBE had died at the age of 65 in Morocoo after battling a long illness.
Here is a look at what happened to the former stars of Dragons’ Den.
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Hilary Devey was already a minor star before Dragons’ Den as she had already appeared in Secret Millionaire and The Business Inspector.
She made her fortune in freight haulage, launching her own company in 1996 and building it up into a highly successful firm.
After two series, Hilary decided to walk out of the Den in 2012 to launch her own show on Channel 4 called The Intern.
They reportedly offered a financial package the BBC could not compete with, so Hilary departed from the Den.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Always mindful of how much we spend, unfortunately the financial offer from Channel 4 made it impossible for us to compete and so the upcoming series will be her last.”
Hilary’s new show saw her attempt to secure internships for candidates at large companies by giving them a week’s trial in their dream jobs.
In 2015 the businesswoman was given another show, Running The Shop in 2015 before becoming an occasional Loose Women panelist.
Sadly, Hilary’s agent announced that she had died in her holiday home in Morocco on Saturday after battling a long illness.
A spokesperson for the star said: “I can confirm that Hilary sadly died yesterday. She had been ill for some time.”
Tributes flooded in from a number of her former colleagues, with Theo Paphitis tweeting: “So sad to hear of the passing of the lovely Hilary Devey. She left us all with some fantastic memories, may she rest in peace. My thoughts are with her family.”
Duncan Bannantyne wrote: “Sad to hear that @HilaryDevey has passed. So young. Too young. Rest in Peace Hilary. X”
Greek Cypriot entrepreneur Theo Paphitis became a Birtish retail tycoon after starting off as a tea boy and filing clerk at an insurance broker.
Theo then started selling watches and set up a proper finance company and invested in the telecom industry with the rise in mobile phones, eventually buyingt Rymans when it went bankrupt and turned its fortunes round.
In 2006 he sold his equity stake in lingerie brand La Senza for a reported £100million and bought another, Box Avenue in 2011.
The former Millwall FC chairman joined Dragons Den in 2005 and became known for being a straight-talker and making a lot of investments.
Theo decided his time was up in 2013, saying it had not been a decision he had taken lightly.
He explained: “The time felt right to give up my seat, stop breathing fire and allow someone else to enjoy the wonderful experience of being a Dragon.
“So, it just leaves it for me to say thank you to all past and present Dragons. Thank you Auntie. I Am Out.”
He briefly returned for a guest appearance on the show in 2019 when Touker Suleyman had a short-term illness.
Theo still owns Ryman as well as Boux Avenue and homeware specialist Robert Days.
Scottish business sensation Duncan Bannatyne started off by buying an ice-cream van, which he later sold before investing in a chain of nursing homes.
Duncan sold that business in 1996 and built up a chain of health clubs and spas, aptly named Bannatyne Health Club & Spa.
One of the original Dragons, Duncan announced he was leaving his chair in 2014 after 12 series due to other business commitments.
“I do not plan to make any further investments on the programme so thought it fair to offer my seat to someone else,” said the health club mogul.
He later claimed that Peter and Deborah should be fired by producers to “bring in fresh faces and start again”.
Duncan invested roughly £2million in schemes during his tenure on the show and claimed he “probably broke even” with his 36 investments.
He said: “I remember talking to Theo Paphitis one day and we said it’s worth £100,000 a year – the publicity we get from it for our businesses.”
The business mogul headed to the Australian jungle for I’m A Celebrity in 2015 and donated his fee to the Operation Smile charity.
Duncan took part in The Real Marigold Hotel with other celebs such as Paul Chuckle and Bond girl Britt Ekland lin 2021.
The 73-year-old got married to wife Nigora Whitehorn in 2017 and she is 31 years his junior.
British interior designer Kelly Hoppen became famous for her celebrity clients, including the Beckhams and actor Martin Shaw.
Kelly has designed everything from luxury homes to yachts and private jets as well as collaborating on commercial projects, including with Disney.
The ‘Queen of Taupe’, known for her signature neutral palette, presented her own Channel 5 show in 2011 before becoming a Dragon in 2013.
In 2015, Kelly announced she was quitting after two series because she was too busy to commit time to the filming schedule, but added she had “thoroughly enjoyed” her time on the show.
“It has been a privilege to be part of a programme which champions entrepreneurs,” she said.
“I will miss my fellow judges and I’m sure someone amazing will fill my seat.
Adding that she would continue to work and invest in young talent, she added: “I wish everyone on the show the best luck. What’s left to say but ‘I’m out.'”
Kelly is a proud ambassador for the government GREAT campaign for which she was awarded a CBE in October 2020 for her work in helping to promote British creativity, business, and commerce globally.
She is also good friends with This Morning host Phillip Schofield and the pair are frequently seen on holiday together.
Entrepreneur Piers Linney left the banking world in 2000 to start an internet business which led him to invest in tech, media and telecommunications.
He was co-CEO and owner of Genesis Communications and cloud-based ITV business Outsourcery.
Piers joined Dragons’ Den in 2013, having previously appeared on TV on Channel 4 series The Secret Millionaire in 2011.
One of his investments, publishing business Wonderbly who offered personalised children’s picture books, sold over 2.7million copies worldwide.
After two series, Piers claimed he had done his time and wanted to move on to focus on other projects.
“After hearing over 200 pitches and made nine deals, I have had a fantastic experience on Dragons’ Den and feel honoured to have had the opportunity to contribute to such an iconic and long-running TV show and to have been the first Dragon with Afro-Caribbean heritage,” he said.
Piers is now a non-executive director of British Business Bank, the UK’s government-owned development bank that has facilitated over £12 billion of financing to improve small and medium-sized business access to debt and equity finance
Entrepreneur James Caan entered Dragons Den in 2007 having achieved success in the recruitment industry.
He founded recruitment company Alexander Mann in 1985, which he sold iim 2002, and is also the founder and current CEO of the UK-based private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw.
James spent three years in the Den and did a lot of charity work with Children in Need and Coming Relief through his role on the show.
After four series he decided to leave to devote more time to “existing investments” and “philanthropic work”.
In a statement, he said: “Dragons’ Den has been an integral and exciting part of my professional life and I thank the show profusely for letting me be a part of it for so long. Unfortunately, I’m out!”
In 2012, James surpassed U.S. President Barack Obama and UK Prime minister David Cameron in the number of LinkedIn followers, making him the 7th most followed person in the world.
The businessman founded the James Caan Foundation in 2006 and is Chairman of the Uk Government’s Start Up Loans Scheme.
James hired 2009 The Apprentice winner Yasmina Siadatan as a Head of Operations role in a Private Equity firm.
“Once I had met various people in the organisation I was sold on the company as a whole, especially James himself, so it was just a case of them finding a role that would suit me,” said Yasmina.
“It wasn’t an advertised role but something that James matched my skills to, which is how a lot of people are brought into the company.”
Sarah Willingham’s career began with managing restaurants including Planet Hollywood and Pizza Express.
Then in 2004, she bought The Bombay Bicycle Club and expanded the company to make it the largest Indian restaurant chain in the UK.
During two series in the Den, Sarah made a number of investments including Grounded Body Scrub and Craft Gin Club.
The businesswoman decided to leave in 2017 to go travelling with her family, saying: “Being part of Dragons’ Den has been one of the best experiences of my life.
“At the end of last year my husband Michael and I decided to finally put into action our long-held dream to spend a year travelling the world with our young children.
“Sadly this means that I’ve had to step down from my role as a Dragon. It’s been a great privilege to be part of such a fantastic show and I wish everyone on it continued success.”
In 2021, Sarah launched and listed Nightcap PLC alongside her entrepreneur husband Michael Toxvaerd – a drinks business that acquired London Cocktail Club.
As well as running Nightcap, Sarah and Michael jointly invest in and support a number of established businesses and live in Brighton with their four children.
Moonpig founder Nick Jenkins, who sold the greeting card company for an estimated £120million in 2011, joined the Den in 2015.
Nick revealed that the Dragons aren’t allowed to take their phones into the Den so they must do all calculations in their heads.
His biggest Den success was investing £70,000 in The Snaffling Pig Company, who sell pork scratchings and crackling.
During two series on the show he made over a dozen deals before leaving in 2017 to spend more time on his current businesses.
He explained: “I have thoroughly enjoyed making Dragons’ Den but I want to focus more on my portfolio of educational technology businesses and that would make it difficult to take on any more investments from the Den.”
Nick has donated money to the Conservative Party and was a signatory to a letter to The Daily Telegraph during the 2015 election.
The letter praised the party’s economic policies and claimed that a Labour government under Ed Miliband would “threaten jobs and deter investment”.
Banker-turned-entrepreneur Jenny Campbell only lasted for two series in the Den.
The businesswoman bought YourCash, in independent ATM provider in 2010 having previously spent more than three decades working in various roles for the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
Jenny sold the business in 2016 and became a Dragon the following year, investing in energy switching service Look After My Bills and hemp skincare producer Carun UK.
In a statement, Jenny said she was stepping down to focus on charity work and due to her commitments to the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Fellowship Programme that helps young entrepreneurs.
“Having been a fan of Dragons Den since it first aired in 2005 I was absolutely delighted and proud to have the opportunity of becoming a Dragon myself,” she said.
“I have invested in businesses and entrepreneurs who I believe I can add real value to personally, and I look forward to working with each of them closely over the next few years.
“It has been a tough decision to step down but I now want to focus on my new role with the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Fellowship Programme which supports young entrepreneurs in setting up and growing their own businesses, as well as help my sons Rik and Tom on their own entrepreneurial journeys.”
Australian businessman Richard Farleigh was an investment banker for 10 years and was hired to run a hedge fund in Bermuda.
By the age of 34, he earned enough to retire and moved to Monte Carlo, then made millions of dollars by investing his own capital in British technology companies.
Richard was in the Den during series 3 and 4 and got a reputation for making the most offers and giving very constructive feedback to the contestants.
Along with Peter Jones he backed Levi Root’s Reggae Reggae Sauce and sold his stake in the business for a ten-times return about a year later.
The ‘Mr Nice’ of the Den, Richard was abruptly dropped from the show in 2007 in what the BBC described as “very amicable”.
However, Richard admitted he was “gutted” by the decision and had even set up permanent residence in the UK so he could focus on the series.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a dragon – it is an illustrious group. I was looking forward to taking part in the next series,” he said after his exit.
“I had even moved back to the UK to focus on commitments for the show. I am gutted that I have not been invited back to be part of the new series.”
Richard went on to launch an advisory firm, H20 Markets, back in 2010 and now he is an in demand public speaker.
Simon only appeared in the first series of Dragons’ Den and made just one investment, so didn’t have many ties to the show.
The entrepreneur founded sushi chain Yo! Sushi in 1997 – putting conveyor belt bars, robot drinks trolleys and self heating plates in his restaurants.
Simon sold his controlling interest in 2013 in a whopping £10million deal and his remaining stake a few years later.
During his short time in the Den he only invested in one company, Mychorrhizal Systems, who manufactured black truffles.
The businessman lives on a £1million houseboat in Chelsea and speaks around the world at corporate and promotional events.
Rachel was the only female investor in the original Dragons’ Den line-up.
She founded Red Letter Days in 1989, one of the first companies to sell experiential gifts such as spa days and hot air ballooning in the UK.
The company once had a whopping £18million turnover but came unstuck during at attempt to expand into supermarket distribution.
Red Letter Days went into administration in 2005 and came under fire for having unpaid supplies and disappointed customers.
Awkwardly, rachel was still in the Den at the time and it was actually fellow Dragons Peter Jones and Their Paphitis who bought Red Letter Days’ remaining assets and goods.
This reportedly led to disputes with those particular Dragons and Duncan Bannatyne while also putting show bosses in the uncomfortable position of allowing someone with a ‘failed’ business as an investor.
Rachel, who now works as a venture capital adviser and business speaker, wrote the book Business Nightmares about the fine line between success and failure in 2008.
In 2013, she founded digital publishing and marketing platform Source TV and released another book titled PROSPERITY in 2016.
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/former-dragons-den-investors-now-27217810 Where former Dragons' Den investors are now after Hilary Devey's tragic death