Crisp maker turns down Dragon in favour of industry mogul

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Crisp innovators (left to right): Dom Smith, Jonathan Brown and Daniel Pawson
Crisp innovators (left to right): Dom Smith, Jonathan Brown and Daniel Pawson
A salmon-skin crisp maker, who turned down an offer on last night’s (3 February) episode of Dragon’s Den, has revealed the firm went on to secure backing from a leading salmon-industry mogul.

Sea Chips co-founder Daniel Pawson rejected a £30,000 offer for 35% of the business from Touker Suleyman in the BBC Two show, which was recorded in February 2018.

Pawson, who founded the business with Dom Smith, won financial support from Jonathan Brown after the show. As former owner of Miami-based MacKnight Food Group, Brown is known for pioneering a number of own-label smoked salmon brands.

By using the “often wasted” ​but “nutrient packed”​ salmon skin as an alternative to potato chips, Sea Chips claimed to be addressing the global issue of food waste. Salmon skin is known to be high in protein, and a source of omega 3 and collagen.

The company also donates 10% of its profits to ocean charities that work to keep the sea clean.

The three-strong product range – Lightly Salted, Lime & Chilli and Salt & Vinegar – is available to buy in Harrods, Fenwick and Whole Foods Market, as well as on Amazon.

New 930m2 facility

The backing from Brown, agreed in April 2018, helped Sea Chips secure a new 930m2​ facility in Cumbria, and has given it access to a number of new buyers, Pawson said.

The company is on the way to hitting the £1m revenue mark within 18 months, he added.

Pawson said: “Appearing on ​Dragon’s Den was a great experience and exposure opportunity for us, but we really didn’t feel Touker was passionate about or understood Sea Chips enough.

“We simply couldn’t see how he could benefit us to warrant such a large portion of our company (35%) when we were offering just 10%.”

Sea Chips was looking for a strategic investor, and Brown had “more relevant experience​” than all the Dragons, Pawson said.

“He also hit the headlines in 2017 when he hired five private jets to help get necessary supplies to the Caribbean island of Dominica, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria just days before – we knew he was the kind of man we wanted to be in business with.

‘A huge step for growth’

“Our new factory in Cumbria is a huge step for growth in our business and Jonathan has given us a number of new buyer connections, as well as support with marketing costs.

“Jonathan has also made the move from Miami to Cumbria to put more focus on the business, for which we are wholly grateful.”

Brown said he was “immediately impressed”​ by Pawson’s and Smith’s passion for something he had spent 35 years to learn, and how they had managed to turn salmon into “something so delicious”.

“I knew I wanted to help them from the offset and was blown away by the amazing results you can get if you put the time into development,”​ he explained.

“I am very proud of them both for their dedication, honest passion and for making a partnership between us happen so seamlessly.

“We are all very excited about taking Sea Chips to the next level and I look forward to helping them develop the marketing and export side of the business.”

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