Former football star Gary Neville has invested in two businesses during his guest appearance on Dragon’s Den, including a personal cinema idea in the hope of turning the concept into affordable housing.
In Thursday’s episode, the TV pundit became the first famous face to join the BBC show as a guest Dragon.
The show saw four business owners pitch their ideas, with Neville putting in offers for three of them – two being accepted as joint ventures with other Dragons.
Thought 5 Dragons were scary? Try going up against 6! Tonight, Gary Neville joins our formidable five as a Guest Dragon. Join in to see who will conquer the Den! @dragonjones, @DeborahMeaden, @toukersuleyman, @SaraDaviesCC, @StevenBartlett and @GNev2
— BBC Dragons' Den (@BBCDragonsDen) January 18, 2024
Among the entrepreneurs were John and Sian who pitched their Cosy Cinema business which allows guests to hire pods which are kitted out with a bed, surround sound and large screen to have a novel film or gaming experience for three hours for £55 or £162 for an overnight stay.
The Cardiff-based couple asked for £60,000 for 6% equity of their business.
While Neville thought it was a good local idea, he felt the pods had more potential to be turned in affordable housing projects.
He said he was interested in “trying to crack the issue” of expensive land and construction costs which means houses are too expensive and felt this could be a solution.
The former footballer initially offered all the money for 20% equity on the basis that they would change their business model.
Fellow Dragon Touker Suleyman, who is involved in a co-living project, also put in an offer of £80,000 for 25% share.
After considering the proposals, the Cardiff couple asked if they would consider a partnership by investing £30,000 each for 10%, to which they agreed.
Manchester-based entrepreneur Liam Browne also peaked interest with his cocoa business, Full Power Cocoa, which he asked for £50,000 for 5% share in business
Neville, who played for Manchester United throughout his professional career, hailed him as an “incredible ambassador” for his brand and for the city which led him to make an offer.
Fellow Dragons Steven Bartlett and Peter Jones also made persuasive offers which led Neville to propose that they all split the investment three ways while Bartlett and Jones each got 10% equity, Neville took 5% – which Browne happily agreed upon.
The episode also featured another historic moment when all six Dragons put in an offer for entrepreneur Giselle Boxer’s Acu Seeds business of a needle free ear acupuncture product which can help aid health issues including anxiety, migraines and hormonal issues.
The Sheffield-based businesswoman explained she had established the product after seeking treatments when she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or ME, at the age of 26.
Neville said he lived with predominantly woman and that they would “never forgive” him if he did not met Boxer’s request of £50,000 for a 10% share of her business.
After receiving six offers, she decided to pick Bartlett as she explained she had been told she would met a man called Steven that was going to be really important in her life.
Tomorrow we welcome a new face to the Den! Our first ever guest Dragon @GNev2.
It’s one of the most entertaining episodes I’ve seen.
& The first ever time in Dragon’s Den history that one business gets 6 offers 👀
Tomorrow. BBC One. 8pm. pic.twitter.com/TErWXAIyiW
— Steven Bartlett (@StevenBartlett) January 17, 2024
Elsewhere in the episode was former professional footballer Billy Childs who was asking for a £100,000 investment in his memorabilia business, which sells worn items from top footballers, for 10% share in his company.
With his knowledge in the field, Neville explained to him: “I’ve got no doubts about this market, I’ve got no doubts about the evaluation of memorabilia, its a huge market.
“The elephant in the room for me is not any of the things that haven’t been mentioned so far – its the acquiring.
“As there isn’t a single football player that I know that ever gives their boots, gloves, shirt away to be profited from.
“Certainly the modern player, they would ordinarily give those away to auction for charity or they would give them away as a gift to a member of the community of a fan.
“And football players wouldn’t like the idea of their property that was gifted to someone being profited from.”
Neville said he could not invest in the business due to this but invited Childs to come see him as he felt he could give him advice on how he could work closer with football players.