Dragons’ Den: Kelly Hoppen MBE

The influential design entrepreneur was only a Dragon for two years but found success backing three start-ups from tanning lotions to phone repairs

Dragon from: Series 11 – Series 12, 2013 to 2015
Number of investments made: 3
Largest sum invested: £50,000
Most successful investment on the show: Reviveaphone

Who is Kelly Hoppen?

Said to be one of Britain’s most influential interior designers, South African-born Kelly Hoppen is the woman that the A-list stars go to when they want a design re-vamp.

Having started out in the industry aged just 16, over the years Hoppen has designed for celebrities including Victoria and David Beckham and actor Martin Shaw. She has also worked on design projects for big-name clients with projects including helping to design LUX Belle Mare hotel resort in Mauritius, designing the first class cabin for British Airways, and designing for Pearl Motor Yachts.

Focused on natural colour palettes and Eastern-inspired designs, in 2014 Hoppen launched her eponymous e-commerce site kellyhoppen.com which sells a variety of homeware products and accessories as well as jewellery and gifts.

Alongside her interior design ventures, Hoppen is a serial author and has published eight books to date.

In 2009, Hoppen was awarded an MBE from the Queen for her services to interior design.

Hoppen as a Dragon

Hoppen joined the Den as Hilary Devey’s replacement in 2013 and left the show in in 2015 due to “timing commitments”.

During her two-years as a Dragon, only three of her investments went through and these included Clean Heels; a device to stop high heels sinking in grass, and Skinny Tan; a naturally derived tanning cream said to reduce cellulite.

Hoppen invested £30,000 in exchange for 5% of Skinny Tan, which Piers Linney matched, and her investment has already proved fruitful. In 2015 the business was acquired by global beauty giant InnovaDerma for an undisclosed sum and Hoppen and Linney have remained shareholders; with a lucrative return arguably coming their way.

In addition to Skinny Tan, Hoppen’s most successful investment in the Den was Reviveaphone; a specialist in damaged phone repair kits. Founded by young entrepreneur Oliver Murphy – who made records as the youngest founder to win investment on the Den at the time – Reviveaphone secured £50,000 from Hoppen in exchange for 25% equity.

Three years on, Murphy has scaled the business overseas with sales in markets such as Spain and Japan, has secured a deal with Carphone Warehouse to bring the brand into the mainstream, and is set to branch out into mobile phone repair services.

While Hoppen did have success investing on the Den, she has since said that Dragons’ Den is more of a TV show for entertainment then it is about business.

Life after the Den

In April 2015, Hoppen was announced as head judge for Amway’s annual business competition Britain’s Top Real Role Model. The national initiative intends to reward creative entrepreneurs with £5,000 to help make their business idea a reality.

Since leaving the Den, Hoppen has also focused on growing her interiors business. In February 2016, she announced a collaboration with magician Dynamo for a range of 3D-effect wall coverings designed to create optical illusions of more space.

Moving to politics, Hoppen has been outspoken on the topic of Brexit. In January 2016, she was one of 50 successful female entrepreneurs to sign a letter calling for the UK to stay in the EU and in February 2016 she signed an open letter backing the Stronger In Europe campaign.

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