Let's Eat

JFS boy sweet talks the Dragons to the tune of £60,000

Confectionery entrepreneurs Joe Woolf and Nick Sunshine have secured an offer of investment on the Dragons’ Den


London entrepreneurs and former JFS boys, Joe Woolf and Nick Sunshine have secured investment in their gourmet gummy sweet brand, Tasty Mates, from Dragons’ Den’s most longstanding Dragon, Peter Jones CBE.

In the business reality show, which aired on BBC1 on 22 February, Woolf, 27, is shown fronting their pitch for funding to grow the range, which includes four flavours — Very Berry, Pear Crumble, Salted Caramel and Peaches & Cream.

“After watching Dragons Den since the age of nine, just being in the studio was a pinch-me moment. My overriding memory of the experience was ‘Oh my God this is so cool’” Woolf told the JC.

Woolf, who launched the brand with Sunshine in 2021, explained that the friends had been approached by the show’s researchers in 2022, but initially hadn’t felt their company was ready. “Then, when watching the last series, on the spur of the moment, I emailed our contact asking them to keep us posted” said Mr Woolf.

To reach the television recordings, they had to go through several rounds of questioning and fact-checking by the show’s researchers. On one Zoom call, they were asked why they wanted to appear on the show. “I joked that I just want to get some Hinge [dating app] content! That may have been what got me through” said Mr Woolf.

Despite being grilled by the Dragons for one and a half hours, Woolf’s on-screen appearance lasted less than 15 minutes. He told the JC his two-minute pitch had been well-rehearsed: “In the week before I was practising constantly — in the shower, in front of my family, to my uncle and in front of the mirror.”

It wasn’t plain sailing for the 27-year-old former JFS deputy head boy. Dragons Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies, and Steven Bartlett ducked out like dominoes, with each failing to foresee a future for the brand.

Despite his fellow Dragons walking away from a deal, Jones — the longest serving Dragon — terming himself ‘honest dragon’ (as opposed to Suleyman’s ‘grumpy dragon’) decided to make an offer for the full £60,000 Woolf and Sunshine had asked for. He told Woolf: “I think you have something …the quality to become a successful entrepreneur.”

In return, Jones wanted 20% of their company — 16% more than the pair had wanted to give away. Woolf then had to make a snap solo decision whether to agree to give away a greater percentage of their company. He did manage to persuade Jones to agree to reduce his stake to 15% once the investment is paid off.

“It was brutal. You’re in the moment and you have to take the opportunity. If you say no, that’s it and you don’t get to speak to them afterwards. If we said yes, it meant we’d have the chance to speak to Peter again.”

“They gave me a lot of criticism but also plenty of praise. I wanted their advice, so there was a benefit to saying yes” said Woolf, who also explained there the additional thinking behind his decision. “About 80 brands are filmed but not all of them appear on screen.” so I also figured that we’d stand more chance of appearing if we accepted our offer.”

The brand, which Mr Woolf estimates has sold more than a million packs since they started is set to launch a fifth flavour — Sour Passion Fruit — later this month and to launch in the USA, Canada and Australia. 

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive