My Week: Richard Blakesley of The Wand Company

The wand creator on early mornings, dressing smartly and scoring big on Dragons' Den.

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

We were on Dragons' Den on Monday, pitching our new Kymera Wand remote control. I happened to be on holiday in Devon at the time. I'd gone down there figuring we wouldn't be that busy from the TV show, but I was wrong. As soon as it aired we started getting loads of emails from consumers and retailers – around 3,000 in total, including the likes of Tesco and Dixons.

We even got one from a man in Nigeria thanking us for the wand we sent him, asking why it needed batteries, and looking to confirm that it would heal him of evil spirits like he wanted it to. I had to explain it was a remote to control the telly.

I wound up working till four or five am each night, getting only three hours' sleep. There are only two of us in the company, and we've had more enquiries than we can really cope with. That is of course a very good problem to have.

We recorded the episode back in April. We spent 2.5 hours pitching, which was an intense experience, but it went better than we expected: we got offered a record total – £900k – and Duncan Bannatyne's £200k was the largest ever investment from a single Dragon.

I had to come back to London on Wednesday night, as a car was booked for 5am the next day to take us to GMTV, my first stab at live telly. My partner Chris Barnardo is very comfortable doing that stuff, but it's really not my thing at all. They got a full-length shot of me sitting there with my shirt hanging out. I generally don't dress smartly, so I can hardly call it inaccurate.

After GMTV I went to see Mudhut Communcations – they'd given us pitch training for Dragons' Den, and we wanted to say thanks. We also wanted to discuss how to get our story right when we meet the big retailers which are suddenly showing interest.

On Friday I met UKTI – the goverment body that helps with exporting to new markets. We've had lots of orders from the US, and a lot of interest from Japan, which is a harder market to crack. English isn't that widely spoken, but UKTI can help with translators and stuff.

In the afternoon I went to see the gadget stockists at Hamleys and Selfridges and agreed deals in a couple of hours. I also met two of the biggest electrical retailers in the UK. They were nice, actually. I was expecting a hard-nosed story from them, but they were enthusiastic and keen to find a way of working together on the product.
Right now we're prepping our first trade show at the NEC. It's a new experience for us – we've never sold face-to-face before. It's always been via the net or the phone. Now we're touting our wares and we'll see how it goes.

Customers tend to be quick to complain if something isn't quite right – but I've learnt that the public are a much more positive and enthusiastic bunch than I expected. We've had a vast number of emails from people getting really excited about the product. It's been a crazy week. There are probably more mad emails like the one from the Nigerian guy, but I've read so many I've forgotten.

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