A DRAGONS' Den reject has had the last laugh after landing a £400,000 deal with a major supermarket.
Former contestant Keir Carnie failed to secure an investment for his chewing gum business – but now he's left the judges chewing their words.
Keir, 33, has secured a huge contract with Waitrose, despite a brutal snub on the BBC show.
His plastic-free, plant-based peppermint Nuud gum will be sold in 260 stores across the UK, as well as at Nisa and Costcutter.
While on the programme, which aired last week, Keir asked the Dragons for £50,000.
In his pitch, he said: "Did you know that every piece of regular chewing gum contains the same amount of plastic as a plastic straw?
"Yet while plastic straws are banned, chewing gum waste goes practically unnoticed."
The investors were impressed, especially when Keir expanded on his experience working as a business development manager at Heineken.
He said: "I would relate this to the craft beer boom and Heineken was slow to react to that boom.
"What they ended up doing five, six seven years later, was investing in market-leading disruptors that had showed more adaptability to changing consumer trends.
"They came in and paid massively over the odds for these craft-beer brands."
However, Deborah Meaden decided not to invest amid fears big markets would start going plastic-free and ruin Keir's prospects.
And Tej Lalvani said the idea was "probably not investable at the moment".
Although on a more positive note, he added: "You've ticked a lot of boxes here.
"You're in the right space at the right time and I think you are the right person to run this business."
Keir, from Bath, came up with the idea after discovering the environmental damage caused by chewing gum.
He wanted to help tackle the 100,000 tonnes of single-use plastic gum that is chewed in the UK every year, as well as the £100million spent annually on cleaning it off Britain's streets.
Nuud, which costs £1.50 a packet, is much easier to clean because it is much less sticky, Keir said.
It is made from chicle – a tree sap that biodegrades – making it much more eco-friendly.
Keir said interest in the brand has boomed since his appearance on Dragons' Den, and his company is forecast to earn £400,000 from its new contracts, The Times reports.
After being unsuccessful on the show, Keir said: "I’m really proud of Nuud’s success so far but it’s still early days and we have huge ambitions to effect positive change within a category that causes such significant litter and environmental problems that currently go unchecked.
"We will continue to shine a light on this and campaign for ingredient transparency to empower consumers to make an informed choice on what they chew."
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