An entrepreneur who impressed the Dragons when he stepped into the den to pitch his online business is on target to increase sales to £7 million – and that’s before receiving finance from Duncan Bannatyne
Worcestershire-based vehicle accessories specialist Proppa, which turns over £5 million, is recruiting new staff to cope with a surge in demand.
The company’s latest line of snow products is flying out of the warehouse – boosted by the big freeze.
Proppa founder Adam Weaver was offered investment from multi-millionaire business tycoon Duncan Bannatyne, but won’t receive any cash until the due diligence process is complete in the new year.
Mr Weaver, who worked as a consultant in Birmingham before deciding to start his own business, applied to Dragons’ Den two years ago so the call came out the blue.
‘‘They asked if I still wanted to go on and I thought why not; worst case scenario it’s good advertising.” he said.
“The show was filmed in April and screened in September.
“Duncan and Peter both made an offer. I went for Duncan.
“Personally I think the due diligence will go on until the new year. I haven’t received any anything other than the promotional side.
“I was offered £50,000 for 20 per cent which means he has got an absolute bargain.
“I’ve had an offer of £1 million for the business which values his share at £250,000. But as Duncan has said to me it’s worth more than that. I have given a big chunk away for the benefit of having him on board. It’s not really about the money, I want the support. The process is moving slowly but in the right direction.”
The business, which is now valued at £1.5 million, started when the head gasket blew on Mr Weaver’s car and he didn’t want to pay the £1,500 quoted for the repair.
So he went online and discovered Steel Seal, which is poured into the car’s cooling system and seals the hole from within. This not only helped to solve his car troubles but inspired him to begin selling car accessories online after the US distributor of Steel Seal persuaded him to buy a case
He did and Proppa was born – a misspelling of the word Proper chosen because it can reflect a range of product areas such as Easy. The business concentrated on offering niche products using search engine optimisation for pick-up trucks and vans as opposed to cars and bikes catered for by retailers such as Halfords.
Launched just four years ago, Proppa has grown and expanded into larger premises with units in Hereford after an acquisition two years ago.
Mr Weaver, now 30, said: “The whole idea behind Proppa is to stock a niche range of products which are not readily available elsewhere.
It is a formula which certainly appears to be working and without wishing to tempt fate, the business is performing extremely well.”
The growth is reflected in the need to expand his workforce of 30 but Mr Weaver said this remains a challenge. He is looking to recruit administrators, account managers, general sales staff, an area sales manager and trade sales specialists.
He said: “The problem I am having is recruiting. In terms of lower skilled labour like warehouse staff and data entry I am inundated but anything in terms of accountancy, sales, marketing, I barely get an application. I think the ones worth having are employed and are too scared to look in case they lose out.
‘‘I need retail sales, some for our in bound call centre, customer service, field sales reps, there are plenty of jobs. I am interested in good people.
“The staff we have mainly deal with retail and every time we recruit for trade they end up getting sucked back into the retail side so we know we are missing out on opportunities.
‘‘If I am going to have a problem I would rather it be this,’’ he said.