Panther Milk founder finds success on Dragons’ Den - but hasn’t gone forward with Deborah Meaden’s investment offer

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Paul Crawford was on BBC’s Dragons’ Den last night (Thursday 24 March) and was made an offer of investment by Deborah Meaden.

The drink, which is popular in Barcelona (‘Leche De Pantera’ ) was discovered by Paul when he travelled there to to run dance music events when he was co-owner of Sub Club.

Paul decided to open a pop up Panther Milk bar in Tabac in the city centre before launching an independent drinks brand once the bar shut in 2019.

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Paul decided not to go ahead with Deborah’s investment offer.Paul decided not to go ahead with Deborah’s investment offer.
Paul decided not to go ahead with Deborah’s investment offer. | contributed

During his time in the Den, the Dragons’ were divided on the business, with Sara Davies unsure about the taste of the drinks while Steven Bartlett had concerns over Paul’s marketing strategy. It was only Deborah that made Paul an offer - all the money - a £50,000 investment- for 25% of the company, which was a lot more than Paul wanted to give. Paul agreed to this, but speaking to GlasgowWorld, he confirmed that he didn’t go ahead with the deal in the end.

He said: “I was really torn to be honest and she (Deborah) was one of the Dragons’ that I really wanted but I knew that I was going to have to raise a lot more money to try and scale the business. I knew that if I did that, then I was going to be down to near 50% of my company before a ball was kicked.

“I was really torn (over accepting Deborah’s offer), and to be fair, the very first conservation I had with Deborah after the Den, she acknowledged that and said she hoped I was comfortable. When we got into the nitty gritty and due diligence, she said that she thought I might be better not accepting her offer of investment and that’s what happened.

“On the show I accepted it, but in the due diligence process we didn’t go forward with the investment. I knew in the back of my mind that during the two week due diligence process, either party can say no (to the investment), so I knew I had a bit of breathing space to fully consider it.”

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While Paul and Deborah won’t be working together, all is not lost on the investment-front, as Paul explained: “After the Den I went and raised some seed investment for the business, and raised more than double the amount for less than half the equity.”

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