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From the outside, winning investment on TV’s Dragon’s Den seems like it would be the triumphant end of the journey for any budding entrepreneurs. For travel brand Dock & Bay, however, the next stage of development is set to be just as important.
Easy-going business partners Andy Jeffries and Ben ‘Benno’ Muller certainly caused a stir when they first stepped out in front of the formidable line-up of ‘Dragons’, the name given to the wealthy investors who can put their own money into any of the businesses or products presented to them in the TV show.
Their idea was simple enough: a lightweight towel made from microfibres that was specifically built for the travel market. A bright and breezy pitch piqued the interest of the investors, and the pair eventually won the backing of Deborah Meaden.
For an astute businesswoman like Deborah, who had never worked in the travel sector, investing in Dock & Bay was an easy choice. ‘Travel is a huge market which remains pretty robust even in tricky times,’ she tells us. ‘Destination choices may change but we still want to take our holidays… either domestically or abroad.’
Most trips to the Den end there. Some fail, some succeed, but only occasionally do you hear more about what happens next. There are exceptions; musician-turned-chef Levi Roots being the most notable, having performed a song to gain the attention of viewers on the show and going on to become a household name thanks to his now-ubiquitous Caribbean sauce.
We caught up with Andy and Deborah recently to find out more about what they have planned, and it won’t surprise you that travel and summer will play a big part in what they are working on at the moment.
‘We continue to see rapid growth within existing markets but are already launching innovative products which will appeal to our customer base… our newest being 100% recycled swimming shorts.’ Meaden tells us.
For Andy, however, going forward means also looking back at the origins of the company he co-founded.
‘Way back when when we started this brand, we pulled eight of our friends onto a beach in Sydney and photographed them just being them. We let them run free and enjoy each other’s company and the results were incredible. You could tell a mile off that these were real friends, and that down-to-earth vibe has been the core of the brand’s success,’ Jefferies explains.
‘We’ve had some great shoots with models too, who are carefully selected to reflect our brand, but that shoot always stands out to us.’
Here’s where things get particularly interesting. The team have launched the ‘Colour of Summer’ competition, and the concept is one that everyone can potentially take part in.
So, what made them choose the tropical paradise of Bali as the destination for the campaign (apart from the obvious)?
‘It’s close to the brand’s heart,’ says Jeffries. ‘I’ve been twice before and there is just nowhere else in the world that has such stunning landscape as well as SO many things to do, from surfing, climbing volcanoes, exploring waterfalls, monkey watching, learning yoga, the list is endless. Adventure is at the heart of a trip to Bali.’
Having visited Bali a number of times, we wanted to pick Andy’s brain for the best things to do there.
‘First, climbing Mount Batur. We did the night climb – you climb in the dark for around 2.5 hours. When you get to the top and the sun rises over the mountains, it’s really worth it and will be the best memory of your trip.
‘Secondly, the monkey forest, Ubud – this was a crazy experience! As you approach the entrance to the forest, the monkeys are all over the road and running along the buildings.
It’s kind of like a scene from Planet of the Apes but with really small versions of the apes and they don’t have the brains to work guns – still thankful for that. You get to walk around in their world, seeing them jump from tree to tree and potentially onto you if you have any bananas in hand (not recommended).’
OK, so where do we sign up?!
‘All people have to do to be in with the chance to become an ambassador is visit our website and tell us about the best adventure they have ever had with their best friend. Winners will be flown to Bali for an all-inclusive adventure of a lifetime, staying in a 14-person luxury villa, chef included!’
Apply to become a brand ambassador for Dock & Bay and take part in their Colour of Summer campaign, including an all-inclusive trip to Bali, by visiting (dockandbay.com/colourofsummer).
All entries must be submitted by February 28.