TV dragon still behind Topsham businessman’s project

Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne continues to support a business project led by a Topsham man in spite of eleventh hour changes to the project

CELEBRITY entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne remains firmly behind a scheme being led by a Topsham businessman despite last-minute alterations to the project.

Geoff Bowen, who runs Pebblebed Vineyards, secured an investment of �60,000 from Mr Bannatyne during an appearance on the Dragon’s Den TV show in August.

The 46-year-old, however, changed details of the business project at the eleventh hour after shaking hands to a deal on the show.

Mr Bowen’s scheme gives people the opportunity to buy part of a vineyard which they own for a 10-year period.

It requires a �2,000 investment from interested parties as opposed to a �9,500 sum that was initially presented to Mr Bannatyne.

Investors, in return, can assist from planting the vineyard, picking grapes, to celebrating the first bottles of wine. They also receive six bottles of sparking wine throughout the period and �50-worth of lunches every year.

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The entrepreneur, after discussing the revised details with Mr Bowen, continues to support the project.

Mr Bowen said: “I had a breakfast meeting with him and he said he was very much behind the scheme.”

A follow-on programme showing Duncan at the vineyard discussing his investment was shown last Friday. The 46-year-old said it was a ‘terrifying’ experience when he pitched the idea of the venture to the dragons.

“They fire an onslaught of questions at you. I was in there for three hours being grilled,” he said.

“Standing if front of them was worse than I thought it would be. I went in fairly confident but quickly realised it was a very serious and difficult business-pitching place.

“I got a particular grilling from Deborah Meaden.”

Mr Bowen added: “From the start of Pebblebed Vineyards, we have tried to involve as many people as possible.

“Over the years, I have had so many people come up to me saying they would like to be more involved.

“It was for this reason I came up with the idea which I pitched to the dragons – of people having their own vineyard with me doing much of the work and they would have their own land and get wine from it.”

The Pebblebed Vineyard harvest started last Sunday, September 26. The harvest takes place most weekends until the end of October.

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