independent

Friday 22 August 2014

Marek sparks bidding war on Dragon's Den

BILL BROWNE

Published 17/04/2014 | 05:26

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A MALLOW based entrepreneur who started up his own publishing company after being made redundant, sparked a bidding war on last Sunday's popular Dragon's Den show.

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A MALLOW based entrepreneur who started up his own publishing company after being made redundant, sparked a bidding war on last Sunday's popular Dragon's Den show.

Marek Szepietowski was seeking €60,000 to help expand his company, which publishes health and safety manuals in the UK and on digital markets.

Marek told the Dragons that since setting up Health and Safety Publications Ltd with his wife, he has worked 19 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week to make the company successful.

Following a brief introduction, Marek threw himself at the mercy of the Dragons with Ramona Nicholas questioning him about his sales figures.

Marek told her that the company realised sales of €335,000 last year, a figure that had already increased by up to 50 percent over December, January and February.

Gavin Duffy wanted to know about Marek's core market, while Eamonn Quinn was impressed with the success the company had achieved in an area that he didn't consider ripe for innovation.

"You've obviously captured a big chunk of this market. How have you done that? What's your special sauce," Mr Quinn questioned.

Marek said his research showed there were two types of publishers.

"First you have publications published by established houses that are beyond the pockets of many people. Then you have what I call the 'cowboys' that go online to make up their manuals and sell them cheap," he said.

"What we do is provide good quality at a good price. We give the best of both worlds," he added.

Marek told Barry O'Sullivan his most popular production was a first-aid manual, which has sold around 22,000 copies since last September.

Peter Casey wanted to know what inspired Marek to set up his publishing company and Marek explained that he and his wife were working for a consultancy company but lost their jobs in the recession.

He added that if he were to secure the €60,000, he would spend it on hiring a graphic designer.

"I think it would be safe to say I will sell one million units this year without the help of a Dragon. With that help, who knows," said Marek.

While Ramona, Gavin and Eamonn were clearly impressed with Marek's pitch, they ruled themselves out, leaving Barry and Peter to slug it out.

After offer and counter offer, Marek decided to go with Barry's offer of €60,000 for 15 percent of the company, working its way back down to 10 percent over time.

"I came here with a Dragon in mind, so I will take up Barry's offer," admitted Marek.

Corkman

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