Television presenter Davina McCall has invested in a young Fife entrepreneur who was called “barking mad” on Dragons’ Den.
Ross Lamond’s company Bug Bakes produces insect-based dog treats that are an environmentally-friendly alternative to meat-based goodies.
He met Davina when she hosted a start-up competition and the TV personality said she would love some for her dogs.
“She followed me on Twitter – actually my first ever direct message on Twitter was from Davina,” Ross recalled.
“I sent her a pack of the treats, which are made from cricket flour, and assumed I would never hear from her again.
“But a week later she sent me loads of messages about how much her dogs love them and videos of her dogs eating them.”
The Big Brother presenter then suggested they meet for breakfast in London – almost 500 miles away from Ross’s home in Wormit.
“She said ‘what are you doing next Friday, I’d love to meet you’. I don’t know if she realised how far away I lived.
“But I happened to be going down to visit my gran in Cambridge that weekend. This was before Covid hit.
“She wanted to know the full story of the business and I assumed she wanted to give me some advice, or put me in touch with someone else.
“When I finished telling her about the company she just said ‘I love that – do you need investment?’”
It was at that point Ross told her about his experience on Dragons’ Den where he agreed a £50,000 investment from Touker Suleyman but not before he was told his valuation for the fledgling firm was “barking mad” by multi-millionaire Dragon Peter Jones.
Ross had initially asked for £50,000 for a 10% stake in the business, which at that point had annual sales of just £10,000.
e agreed a deal with the fashion magnate for a 35% share if he got his money back within a year – but the investment didn’t go through away from the television cameras.
“I’d already filmed Dragons’ Den when I met Davina but it hadn’t been broadcast yet,” Ross said.
“She seemed to think I’d get a better deal than I’d been offered and that’s what got the ball rolling for her to invest.
“She’s been really involved – we speak once or twice a month. I send her monthly emails about the business that she replies to and if I send her new samples she always gives feedback. If she thinks up any ideas, she passes them on.”
Davina is not the only celebrity who has invested in the firm, which now has a workforce of four staff.
Musician Peter Gabriel also invested in the company after meeting Ross at the same start-up event.
Bug Bakes has just launched its first insect-based meal for dogs, which has been made in partnership with Blairgowrie-based Wilsons Pet Food.
The food is cold-pressed into pellets which keep a lot of nutrients. When water is added it has a porridge consistency.
Ross admits a part of him would love to prove the doubting Dragons’ Den millionaires wrong.
“When you see the way the show’s edited some of the comments are a bit unfair,” he said.
“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a small part of me that want to prove some of the more negative ones wrong.
“Peter Jones said the valuation was ridiculous and was dismissive when Touker wanted to invest.
“A clip was shown on Loose Women and the new Dragon Sara Davies said something along the lines of sometimes the product’s amazing but this person was not backable at all.
“All my friends thought that was so funny – I’d gone from making dog treats in Wormit to be slagged off on Loose Women.
“But it has made me determined and I just want the business to go from strength to strength.”