Dragons’ Den: Richard Farleigh
A serial investor on-and-off TV, Farleigh’s background spans hedge funds, technology, and even private member’s clubs…
Dragon from: Series 3 to 4 – 2006 to 2007
Number of investments made: 5 (he originally made 7 but two of the deals fell through after the show)
Largest sum invested: £100,000
Most successful investment on the show: Levi Roots (Reggae Reggae Sauce)
Who is Richard Farleigh?
Australian investor and entrepreneur Richard Farleigh has a rags to riches story; he went from being in foster care to graduating with honours at the University of New South Wales, later becoming an investment banker, trader, serial founder, and of course, a Dragon.
Originally a trader for Sydney’s Bankers Trust Australia, Farleigh left Australia in the 1990’s to work for a hedge fund in Bermuda and became so successful that he was able to retire at the age of 34 to live in Monte Carlo.
Shortly after his retirement, he decided to launch investment company IndexIT with his friend David Norwood with a focus on supporting innovative tech companies in Britain – which later sold for £20m.
He also went on to create his own private members club in London; Home House, after investing £2m in the renovation of the old French Embassy mansion in Portman Square.
Farleigh as a Dragon
Given his background in technology, you would think that Farleigh concentrated mainly on backing tech start-ups in the Den. Think again.
The serial entrepreneur and investor actually backed an eclectic mix of businesses during his one-year spell on the show including water-free egg cooker business Eggxactly and clothes airer company Rotamate. Farleigh’s attitude as an investor also led to him gaining a reputation as ‘Mr Nice’.
While Farleigh’s largest investment in the Den was a £100,000 deal with man-overboard detection system First Light Solutions in exchange for 30% equity, this deal wasn’t his most successful – as the business was dissolved in 2013.
Yet Farleigh did make one very successful investment decision as a Dragon. Alongside Peter Jones, he invested £25,000 in Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce brand for a 20% stake. Fast forward nine years and Root’s Caribbean sauces have become a nationwide hit and Roots has expanded the range to include ready meals, soft drinks and even pasties. Most recently, Roots opened a Caribbean restaurant – The Smokehouse – at Westfield Stratford.
Life after the Den
Since the Den, Farleigh has remained an active investor (backing NET-A-PORTER among other high-profile brands), and remains heavily involved in the enterprise space while also acting as a public speaker.
In 2012, he became chancellor of London South Bank University and he’s also authored two business books including Taming the Lion – which he wrote without a ghost writer – and Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur.
In June 2016, Farleigh announced he was pro-Brexit and said that he felt it was best for UK businesses if Britain left the EU. In a statement on Twitter, Farleigh stated: “I’m Out. UK will renegotiate trade. Immigration targets missed. EU unelected politicians. EU costs UK huge. Bail-out risk of weak economies.”