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Entrepreneur bids for funding from Dragon’s Den investors for Tipsi Tray business

An entrepreneur from Southampton is to bid for Dragon’s Den funding for a unique tray invented by his grandfather 40 years ago.

Robert Simpson, who runs Single Handed Products in Shirley, will be face-to-face with the Dragons on the hit BBC1 programme tomorrow (June 3) appealing to one of them to invest in his Tipsi Tray product.

The tray, which has a long, curved handle which means it can be used one-handed and remain incredibly stable without spilling food or drink, was designed and a prototype built by his grandfather Andrew Townson in Yorkshire in the early 1980s.

“My grandad lived in an old and draughty house in Yorkshire and wanted a tray that he could hold comfortably one-handed while closing doors and windows to keep the cold out,” said 29-year-old Robert, who is originally from West Yorkshire.

“I took that idea and brought the Tipsi Tray to market because of the benefits that it could bring to older people and those with disabilities. As it happens, it has also proved to be very popular in the hospitality and catering industry too as a useful tool for serving and waiting staff.”

Robert started marketing the Tipsi Tray in May 2020 – in the middle of the first lockdown of the pandemic – and has had huge success with direct sales and through online platforms like Amazon. That prompted him to apply to Dragon’s Den to seek more funding to develop and market the product even more widely.

The outcome of his appearance before the Dragons is a closely guarded secret until the programme is transmitted, but Robert said he went into the Den with high hopes of securing investment.

“It was a nerve-wracking but extremely exciting experience,” he said. “I had never done anything like this before and I had certainly not presented in front of such successful entrepreneurs. As soon as I had finished pitching I felt like I could relax and was prepared for the questions.

“I’m really looking forward to watching the episode on BBC. I’m a bit nervous to see myself and how I did but I’m excited to be able to share the outcome with everyone and follow the next steps of my Tipsi Tray journey.”

Robert’s Dragon’s Den appearance will be on BBC1 on Thursday, June 3 at 8pm.

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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