I turned down an offer on Dragons’ Den – people called me crazy but my business now turns over £10million a year | The Sun

NATASHA Bowes was labelled "crazy" for turning down an investment on Dragons' Den – but she's had the last laugh.

The entrepreneur's health drinks are now sold to more than six million customers across the UK and her business turns over a staggering £10million a year.


Natasha, in her 40s, entered the BBC lair hoping to secure a £250,000 investment for a 10 per cent stake in Biotiful – a probiotic kefir brand.

The billionaire panel liked the taste of the cultured dairy drinks and were impressed with Natasha's "tenacity" and level-headedness so seemed ready to hand over their cash.

But four out of five quickly raised concerns about how many people would actually buy her products and declared themselves "out".

Hospitality mogul Sarah Willingham said she wasn't sure the mass market would "go for it", while Moonpig founder Nick Jenkins said he thought only two per cent of Brits would appreciate the health benefits, which include improved digestion, higher energy levels and muscle growth.

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"You haven't demonstrated how you can break this out of a tiny niche into significant sales," he added.

Businessmen Touker Suleyman and Peter Jones also failed to see potential, describing Biotiful's financial future as "ridiculous".

Only Deborah Meaden made Moscow-born Natasha an offer – but it was well below what the former figure skater was after.

She said the initial suggestion was "crazy" and proposed £250,000 for 45 per cent equity, which was speedily rejected.

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Viewers at home were shocked at her seemingly abrupt decision to walk away empty-handed.

But mum Natasha, who lives in London, has more than proved her doubters wrong.

Biotiful featured in the shopping trolleys of more than six million customers in the UK in 2022 – or nine per cent of the population.

It turned over £10.9m in 2020, a reported £18.2m in 2021, and now has a retail sales value of just under £50m.

Natasha said: "Deborah's offer was for a higher equity stake than I was willing to give away so I turned it down – but I have no regrets about doing that.

"It was very much the right decision. And not one of my friends or family questioned it as it was unreasonable.

"I would love to show the Dragons what I've achieved now."

Natasha trained as an athlete as part of the Russian figure skating team before a "high-flying" career in finance for 15 years.

She grew up drinking kefir but found it almost impossible to find when she moved to the UK so decided to make and sell it herself.

"There was a very blatant gap in the market," she said.

"The business concept took shape relatively quickly. Trials began in 2012 and were sold in Fortnum & Mason in 2013."

Natasha was then approached by TV producers and appeared on Dragons' Den three years later.

She described the experience as "completely unique" and far more intense than a traditional business pitch.

"My pitch was a concise three minutes, but the subsequent questioning took an hour and a half," she added.

"The key for me was constantly being several steps ahead, knowing that each answer I gave would steer the conversation in a particular way.

"I had to be 100% focused the entire time."

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Biotiful's "miracle foods" are now sold in most major supermarkets, health and wellness shops and online.

  • Dragons' Den airs Thursdays at 8pm on BBC One.




What is kefir?

KEFIR is a cultured dairy product that contains billions of live cultures.

It is a fermented milk drink with a slightly sour taste.

Kefir originates from the Caucasus mountains at the intersection of Asia and Europe about 2,000 years ago.

It is made with an ancient fermentation method involving adding grains to fresh warm milk.

Kefir is said to have numerous health benefits and is now consumed all over the world.

Experts say it supports healthy digestion, improves energy levels and contributes to growth in muscle mass.

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