Who is Dragons’ Den’s Nick Jenkins?
The Moonpig multi-millionaire founder backed six very different businesses during his one series in the den including Double, Slappie and Masons beans. Here are 10 things you need to know about him
Dragon from:Series 13 to Series 14, 2015 to 2017
Number of investments made: 6 in Series 13
Largest sum invested: £100,000 in Series 13
Most successful investment on the show: Masons Beans in Series 13
During his first series in the Den, Jenkins made six investments totalling £842,000, spanning a variety of sectors.
These included dating app Double, Slappie watches, baked beans company Masons Beans, dog lead connector Magloc, children’s science show provider Sublime Science, alongside Sarah Willingham, and clothes steamer Fridja, alongside Deborah Meaden.
His largest investment of £100,000 into Magloc and his £70,000 deal with Meaden into Fridja were not completed after the show, but others were more successful.
After three hours of negotiations, Jenkins beat offers from three other Dragons to invest £50,000 for 20% equity into Masons Beans, which is now stocked in Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges, Harrods and Ocado. When Birmingham-based businessman David Kendall appeared on the show to promote Slappie watches, it drove so much traffic to his website that it crashed. Jenkins agreed to inject £50,000 into the business for 45% equity, which fuelled major brand and product developments.
Founder of the hugely successful Moonpig.com, Nick Jenkins’ online greeting card business struggled through five years of losses before he turned it around with five rounds of investment and eventually sold it to Photobox.com in 2011 for £120m – from which he received an estimated £45m.
After studying Russian at university, Jenkins abandoned plans to join the army to pursue a career as a commodity trader in Moscow. It wasn’t until he received a death threat that the entrepreneur decided to return to the UK where he spent a year studying for an MBA at Cranfield University. It was here he first developed the idea for Moonpig – his nickname at school.
Jenkins has been an active angel investor since 2008, with a focus on e-commerce start-ups. He has backed energy management systems manufacturer Green Energy Options, Boomf.com, The Healthy Holiday Company, English heritage fashion brand Smart Turnout and a luxury goods e-commerce site Sheerluxe.com.
As well as being a shrewd businessman, Jenkins is heavily involved in philanthropic activities outside his enterprise interests.
The multimillionaire sits on the board of Impact Ventures UK, an investment fund that focuses on finding solutions to social issues in the UK by backing social enterprises and charities. He is also a trustee of educational charity Ark and a patron of Shivia, a charity that supports poor families in West Bengal through enterprise.
In 2014, he assisted Sir Richard Branson in helping the Virgin mogul select the winning start-ups for the annual Pitch to Ritch (now VOOM) competition.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Nick Jenkins…
1. He has been in the e-commerce space for over 15 years
Jenkins launched online greetings card business Moonpig in 1999 – not long before the dot-com crash – but he was able to survive the collapse and grew the company to revenues of over £40m with expansion in the UK, Australia and US.
2. He’s au fait with raising investment
Moonpig has raised five rounds of investment from a number of private investors including Carte Blanche Greetings backer Duncan Spence. His experience of being an investee company will likely come in handy in the Den.
3. Moonpig was his school nickname
After spending four days struggling to find a domain name that had two syllables, was unique on Google and easily represented by a logo, Jenkins resorted back to his old school nickname – Moonpig. The name “ticked all the boxes” but Jenkins asserts that it was “sort of despite the nickname […] I would rather not have used my nickname but it worked.”
4. Tipp-Ex was part of his business inspiration
With greetings cards, Jenkins always used to Tipp-Ex the caption inside a card and replace it with one of his own which led him to think about personalised greetings cards. After having the brainwave that this service could be provided over the internet Moonpig was born.
5. He was once issued with a death threat
Jenkins spent eight years in Moscow working as a commodities trader for a sugar operation as part of Glencore. He decided to return to the UK after he had a death threat nailed to his door following the arrest of a client who had stolen $10m worth of sugar. Jenkins said of the threat: “The Russians are quite sensible […] if they give you a death threat and you take notice of it, you’re not going to get killed.”
6. He has an MBA
On his return to the UK, Jenkins undertook an MBA at Cranfield University to help him refine his business skills – “I’d had a very narrow experience of business in commodity trading”. He says that his MBA was extremely beneficial and that it was a “great environment to bounce ideas off other people”.
7. He understands that starting a business isn’t easy
For the first five years of trading, Moonpig made a loss but Jenkins was able to turn things around by raising investment to keep the business afloat and thereafter made a profit – spending 12 years in total building Moonpig to exit. He knows that start-up success doesn’t happen overnight.
8. He’s a multi-millionaire
Moonpig sold to Photobox in 2011 and Jenkins was said to have received an estimated £45m when the business sold – money that he will be investing in promising businesses on the Den.
9. He’s an angel investor
Jenkins has backed a number of early-stage UK businesses over the past seven years including energy management systems manufacturer Green Energy Options, Boomf.com, The Healthy Holiday Company, English heritage fashion brand Smart Turnout and Sheerluxe.com; a luxury goods e-commerce site. Although he has a bias towards e-tail his real skill has been in creating a leading brand from scratch. We suspect that his focus in the Den will be on consumer brands.
10. He’s charitable
Following the sale of Moonpig, Jenkins spent a year running a children’s charity and has been “heavily involved” with three other charities in recent years. He also sits on the investment committee of Impact Ventures UK which backs social enterprises and charities.