Dragons' Den investor branded my business 'pathetic' and 'ridiculous' - now it rakes in £10million a year

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A Dragons' Den contestant whose company was slammed as 'pathetic' is now raking in £10million a year.

Rachel Watkyn, from Uckfield, first set foot in the fiery board room in 2008 to pitch her sustainable packaging business - The Tiny Box Company.

At the time they were the only company in the UK that solely dealt in recycled packaging, mainly focusing on eco-friendly gift and jewellery boxes.

She and her business partner, Robin Banks, managed to bag £60,000 worth of  investments from Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis.

But despite being ahead of the boom in environmentally friendly packaging, with sites such as Etsy on the horizon, entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne wasn't convinced.

He bashed the sample product, branding it 'ridiculous' and something his eight-year-old daughter could produce.

Rachel Watkyn was told her business - Tiny Box Company - was 'pathetic' when she appeared on Dragons' Den in 2008 - but now it makes £10 million a year (pictured: Rachel and her business partner Robin Banks)

Regardless, Duncan Bannatyne bashed the product, branding the blue and burgundy striped box as 'ridiculous' and something his eight-year-old daughter could produce

‘I think it’s ridiculous that you’ve come along with what you call a business, that you describe as ethical and recyclable materials.'

'And you produce a box which my eight-year-old daughter Emily could make better at school - the ends don’t match up, the lines aren’t straight.

Twirling the burgundy and blue striped box in his fingers, he quipped: ‘It’s pathetic, it really is.’

However, more than a decade later the Tiny Box Company has reached new height, broadening their horizons by creating over 1,500 packaging products and accessories.

Now they offer a range of eco-friendly and recycled packaging, from large moving boxes to multicoloured mailing gift boxes, as well as foam earring inserts and more.

Boasting a clientele of nearly 200,000, the firm now takes in £10million annually. 

Reflecting on the experience with ITV, Rachel said: 'They were brutal, they were absolutely brutal. On the show, I didn’t have any confidence.'

But with a flurry of start up companies emerging who needed the packaging she produced, Rachel knew it would be a success. 

At the time the Tiny Box Company was the only business in the UK that dealt solely with recycled packaging, focusing mainly on gift boxes and jewellery packaging

Even though Rachel walked away with £60,000 worth of investments from  Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis - she said the experience was 'brutal'

Since Dragons' Den the company has broadened its horizons offering over 1,500 recycled packaging products and accessories (right: Tiny Box Company Earring Holder, left: Corrugated postal box) 

'Off camera, I just knew that Etsy was becoming more and more popular and Not On The High Street.'

Even though The Tiny Box Company is now raking in millions a year, the journey there hasn't been the smoothest.

The rocky road to success has been a 'lesson in resilience' according to Rachel, who in the last few years has survived cancer three times.

‘It has been the toughest journey of my life. I’ve had cancer three times in the last five years,' she shared.

Beyond personal challenges, the Tiny Box Company has had its fair share of bad luck, with a fire burning down their first warehouse. 

The business has also survived two severe floods, a website and bank account hacking. 

Rachel revealed that she lost her job, house and 'everything else' in the disaster. However, the hurdles to success have made her a 'resilient' person.

She believes that in the face of adversity everyone has two options. They can either back away and hide or they can attempt to make the best out of their circumstances. 

On a brighter note, the entrepreneur finds it 'hilarious' that some people still don't understand the business concept.

She divulged that warehouse visitors are often confused about what they produce and sell.  

But she doesn't let the confusion deter her from her sol aim, providing more environmentally friendly packaging options.

‘Everything people buy comes in a bag or a box or some kind of packaging, and if we can help business switch from plastic or less environmentally friendly solutions to more environmentally friendly, then the job’s done,’ she said.

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