Orders have flocked in from as far afield as New Zealand, Singapore and Ghana after an innovative flip chart earned some high profile backing.
Neil Westwood established Magic Whiteboard after he grew tired of his hospital management job and sick of lugging around heavy flip charts giving staff presentations.
Now, five years on, Mr Westwood, 37, and his wife Laura, 31, of Worcester, have turned an acorn of an idea into a global business boasting an annual turnover of more than £1 million – with a bit of help from the TV show Dragons’ Den.
Orders are now coming in thick and fast around the globe for the product, a flip chart on a roll which can be torn off to any size and stuck on any wall or surface, peeled off and re-used.
Mr Westwood said: “I knew I wanted to start my own business. One day, when I was carrying yet another heavy flip chart to a meeting it suddenly dawned on me there must be a way of making it lighter.”
The business grew when Mrs Westwood spent her maternity leave from work as a commissioner at Worcestershire County Council juggling changing nappies with running the firm.
Mr Westwood continued with his day job, using his time off to try and get his product noticed at trade shows.
Before long the couple had an annual turnover of £45,000. But they knew they could do better and appeared on Dragons’ Den, which sees budding entrepreneurs pitching their innovations to business moguls in the hope they will attract investment.
The couple were invited on to the show in April 2008.
“It was incredibly nerve-racking experience,” explained Mrs Westwood, originally from Rednal.
“We were in a green room for what felt like an eternity, you weren’t allowed to have your phone on and if you wanted to go to the toilet one of the show’s researchers had to go with you.”
When their turn finally arrived, the couple were left down-hearted when dragon Peter Jones immediately dismissed their idea.
However, it didn’t take long for dragons James Caan, Duncan Bannatyne, Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden to all make offers to invest in the business.
Originally the pair had wanted to sell 15 per cent of their business for a £100,000 investment from the dragons. Eventually they managed to negotiate a deal which saw Mr Paphitis and Ms Meaden each giving £50,000 for a 20 per cent share in the business – meaning they handed over 40 per cent of the firm.
Mr Westwood said: “We were actually really pleased with the deal and we wanted them both because we felt they would help us to achieve the fastest growth for the business.”
With Mr Paphitis owning Ryman Stationery stores, it meant they could sell their product on the high street. It is now available in dozens of outlets, including Halfords, Staples, and Boots.
The firm has gone on to expand its range, including the Magic Blackboard, Magic Sign Paper and the recent launch of the Magic Blackout Blind – a blind on a roll that sticks to windows using static and is ideal to take on holiday to block out the sun and help children settle at night.
The pair are now working on an application for Apple’s iPad while also writing a book about their experience and have been approached to appear on Dragons’ Den shows in other countries such as the US.