Many members (especially Yorkshire & Trent ones) will have come across Chris Hopkins. He’s the MD of Huddersfield-based Ploughcroft and is always instantly recognisable in his trademark, red shirt.
In the first episode of series nine of the BBC Two programme Dragon’s Den, who should be first up in front of the Dragons but Chris himself.
And now, he is still celebrating after securing £120,000 of investment from two of the Dragons for a 25 percent stake in his solar company.
Chris’ pitch to the Dragon’s was real ‘edge of the seat’ viewing, but he survived a battle of wits against the Dragons, who were on top form for the show which aired on Sunday 31 July. Chris was grilled on all aspects of his business model and how he intended to use the Dragons’ money.
Passionate about his area of expertise, Chris gave a blistering sales pitch to convince the panel of the benefits of solar energy, and the financial rewards that can be reaped from the Government’s feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme. He proved to be one of the most successful candidates to date on Dragons’ Den with four of the Dragons wanting to be involved in his business. Looking for £100,000 for a 10 percent equity share in his company, Chris received offers from all but one of the Dragons. Whilst Peter Jones remained unconvinced, it was left to the remaining Dragons, Duncan Bannatyne, Theo Paphitis, Deborah Meaden and new Dragon, Hilary Devey to fight over a stake in Chris’ business. Tough negotiations led to him being able to select his investment partners as Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis, who offered Chris £100,000 in return for a 12.5 percent stake each.
The final choice of Dragons was of paramount importance to Chris: “Apart from their excellent reputation in the world of business, Deborah and Theo are trusted household names. This was very important to me, as I want Ploughcroft to grow to become the household name of choice for solar and renewable energy installations.
We’re one of the leading solar installers for the UK and I want our name to be synonymous with solar, just like big brand names are with other household industries.”
THE PERFECT ‘FIT’!
After the programme, Deborah gave her reasons for investing in Chris, saying: “I had already identified the renewable energy market as an exciting place to do business, not least because it combines doing the right thing with great returns. As with all rapidly growing markets, there are good and bad operators out there, but Chris clearly demonstrated that he was deeply knowledgeable and an industry leader, not just “jumping on the bandwagon”. He was also obviously someone who gets stuff done and cares about his customers...seemed like the perfect fit and so I went for it!”
As if this isn’t enough, Ploughcroft is having its most successful year ever, Chris said: “Growing demand for our services and training courses has meant we have needed to employ 10 new team members and open new training centres in Manchester and Stoke to support our UK expansion plans.”
Chris is excited at the prospect of working with Deborah and Theo to drive his business forward and expand across the UK. He said: “It is fantastic to have had the opportunity to meet such successful entrepreneurs. Through their backing and bank of contacts we’re looking forward to achieving major success with Ploughcroft in the renewable energy market.”
His vision of helping the British homeowner, the Government and, even the planet, means that he takes the unusual steps of training his competition as he developed the current NVQ unit (QCF298) for solar roofing which has been adopted and used by ConstructionSkills in colleges and for training companies across the UK. Chris is clearly dedicated to giving back to the renewable market before anything else.