Brighton Entrepreneur who Defied The BBC Dragons Den
Brighton-based entrepreneur Hazel Reynolds, CEO of Gamely Games, faced down the moguls of Dragons’ Den in the latest series of the BBC Two business show (series 16, episode 11: shown on 23rd December 2018). Hazel was asking for a £50,000 investment in exchange for a 10% stake in the business in order to take the games company into international markets.
The Dragons had a great time playing Gamely Games’ original game, Randomise, with Deborah Meaden putting her charades skills to the test. Finance expert Jenny Campbell was so impressed by the games and Hazel’s vision to help people spend quality time together that she offered the full £50,000. However, Jenny Campbell was asking for two and a half times the 10% share of equity that had been offered, and Hazel wasn’t prepared to give away such a large stake in her business. Therefore Hazel joined the ranks of entrepreneurs who have turned down a Dragon.
Viewers of this episode may remember the shocked faces of the Dragons, and Peter Jones’ parting words as Hazel left the Den: “She’s going to live to regret that.” So, has Hazel come to regret rejecting the investment?
The episode originally filmed back in June 2018, and since then Gamely Games has gone from strength to strength. In addition to Hazel and her husband, the company employees a further two staff members. They have sold more than 70,000 games so far, and this Christmas was their strongest to date with 25,000 games sold on Amazon alone.
Hazel entered the Den to gain investment and expertise that would support the business to move into international markets, but since filming ended the company has launched two German-language games themselves. They are now operating in the UK, Germany and USA. The company that was conceived shortly before the mum-of-two became pregnant with her first child, when she was looking for a more family-friendly career option, has now grown into a serious player in the gaming space.
“I have no regrets at all,” Hazel said of her decision in the Den. “This business is my third baby, and I couldn’t give away such a large part of it. I understand why the Dragons were so surprised, it was fantastic to get such a substantial offer from someone with the business acumen and experience of Jenny Campbell, but we’ve had amazing success without it.”
Gamely Games now plans to reach a £4m turnover within five years by releasing three new games every year, as well as foreign language variations. The company’s mission is to help 1 million people spend quality time together, and they are more than 25% of the way to reaching their goal!
“We are currently hard at work on releasing our next two games, which will be on sale in summer 2019,” Hazel explained. “We’re looking forward to seeing people enjoying them, as we have loved making them. We also have at least one more exciting game to be released later this year, and big plans for the coming years. Watch this space!”
If you want to play the games that the Dragons couldn’t buy, Gamely Games are available from their website or through Amazon and John Lewis.