Nina from Bristol in a Box meets Theo Paphitis at the SBS winner event

How I won over a Dragon | Theo Paphitis

Watching Dragons’ Den is one of my guilty pleasures and Ex-Dragon Theo Paphitis is my favourite of the investors who has appeared on the show. I can’t say I’d ever be brave enough to step into the Den myself but it’s good to be inspired by some of the ideas, particularly those who make stuff like me! 

He quit the show in 2013 but he hasn’t left the limelight. One of the things he does is Small Business Sunday. Every weekend he encourages business owners to tweet a description of their business and the following Monday, he retweets his favourite six to more than 490,000 followers.

I spotted it in August 2017 and had a go with this tweet: 

Very few of the winners get picked up on their first attempt so I kept trying. I ended up tweeting him 19 times.

But I’m happy to say that the persistence paid off when on 10 December 2018, Theo picked me as one of his weekly winners!  

I was so excited with such an amazing early Christmas present. Within seconds, I received loads of congratulatory tweets from previous winners and I picked up around 100 new Twitter followers.

One of the big benefits of joining the Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday community is getting to go to SBS Event, an annual shindig in Birmingham with the man himself. I quickly registered.

SBS Event 2019

Around 800 winners attended the event this year and there was a brilliant buzz as me and my partner Dan arrived at The ICC in Birmingham.

Dragon Theo took to the stage to rapturous applause before revealing some amazing stats. There have been 300,000 tweets in the competition but only 2,000 winners. That means less than 1% have won a retweet which makes me feel very happy and honoured!

One of the big highlights of the day was Theo’s conversation with billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter.

Sir Tom has an amazing story. He started selling trainers from the back of a van which he grew into Sports Division and Europe’s biggest independent sports retailer. In 1998 he sold it to JJB Sports for a massive £290m!

But rather than retiring to Monaco and enjoying his wealth, Sir Tom decided to give back. Inspired by his hero Andrew Carnegie who once said “a man who dies rich, dies disgraced”, he created the Hunter Foundation with his wife which has given millions to educational and entrepreneurial projects.

Theo and Sir Tom are clearly old mates which made the two hour interview even better. I tweeted some of my favourite points from the chat.


Meeting up with other small business owners was also a brilliant part of the day including fellow South West entrepreneurs Ruth Bradford from The Little Black & White Book Project and Rebecca Linnell from The Country Dog Hotel. I know them both from my membership of small business community Enterprise Nation.

Meeting a Dragon: Theo Paphitis

It is tradition at the event for all the winners to get their photo taken with Theo Paphitis and I jumped at the chance to join them!

I queued for around half an hour nervously holding one of my lightboxes before my big moment. It lasted less than a minute but it was great to meet him. And I’m really pleased with the photograph!

It was an amazing day at SBS Event. Running a business can be a lonely experience so it was great to meet lots of other small business owners facing the same challenges.

And being recognised by such a high profile figure such as Theo Paphitis is a huge confidence boost. Onwards and upwards!




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