Who is Nick Jenkins? 10 things you need to know about the new Dragon

The Moonpig multi-millionaire will be joining the Den for its 13th series but what should you know about him? Startups brings you the key facts…

Last week the BBC announced that Moonpig founder Nick Jenkins will be one of three new faces joining the Dragons’ Den panel for its 13th series, alongside fashion entrepreneur Touker Suleyman and restaurateur Sarah Willingham.

A surprise reveal as it went against general consensus that Michelle Mone OBE would be the next Dragon recruit, the BBC’s three new investors are set to shake things up in the Den but what do you really know about them?

A Russian-speaking ex-commodities trader who scaled Moonpig from a loss-making start-up to a £40m revenue business, here’s 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.

Watch our interview with Nick Jenkins here.

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