A FORMER Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School pupil and his university pal have joined forces with multi-millionaire BBC Dragon's Den star Duncan Bannatyne after impressing him with a business venture.
Ralph Broadbent, 27, who grew up in Biggin and his friend and business partner Alex Dixon, 28, started a company while they were at Manchester University called Victor's Drinks, which enables people to quickly brew up cider or beer from starter packs.
The pair appeared on Dragon's Den on Monday in a scene filmed in April and got off to a slow start after the first four dragons dropped out of the investment opportunity over concerns including fears the packs, which are aimed at the party market, might encourage cheap drinking.
However Mr Bannatyne stepped in and offer and, after a brief negotiation, secured a deal.
Describing the product in his opening pitch, Mr Broadbent said: "I first met Alex at university and one day we decided to try some home-brewing. When it was finally ready we took it to a house-party and at that party it became the centre-piece.
"Everyone wanted to try it, everyone wanted to know about it, but most importantly everyone actually really liked it.
"So we sat down and we chatted and we realised there were certain barriers stopping people doing this. We realised there was too much hassle, there was too much expertise required and there was also this whole image that it was something your dad would do in his back garden.
"So we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could create something that enabled people to make their own drink so it was really rewarding but it was simple enough to do it and you still got a really great taste."
Ralph and Alex, who now live in London, started out in business by creating the YNot Festival which has become an award-winning annual music event which takes place each year in Pikehall and attracts thousands of people.
Despite the reservations of the other dragons Mr Bannatyne, whose business interests include health clubs, hotels, media, TV, stage schools, property and transport, stunned the other dragons by offering £40,000 in exchange for 35 per cent of the business.
The offer meant Ralph and Alex would have to give away 20 per cent more of their business than they wanted to and they were encouraged by telecommunications tycoon Peter Jones, who had declared himself out, to come back with a counter offer.
A deal was agreed that Mr Bannatyne would pay £40,000 for a 25 per cent share which, if after three years all profit targets are hit, will reduce to 15 per cent.
Following the filming of the programme, Ralph and Alex have taken advice from the dragons and have been working on the firm's branding - ready for a relaunch in the coming months.
To find out more about the product, visit www.victorsdrinks.com