Entrepreneur has last laugh on the ‘I’m Out’ Dragons!

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AN INVENTOR from Hucknall who was savaged on the TV show ‘Dragons’ Den’ is convinced his business will still become a roaring success — after landing a deal with a world-renowned company.

James Eadon (43), of Station Terrace, was one of a batch of entrepreneurs bidding to earn investment from the panel of millionaires on the cult BBC show.

He featured on the programme last week — alongside business partner Chris Ollivier, of Shropshire — to push their unique puzzle-game, Culica.

The duo were asking for an £80,000 handout from one of the Dragons in return for a ten per cent stake in the business.

But on a night to forget, Duncan Bannatyne described his business pitch as “the worst he had ever seen”.

And all of the Dragons screamed ‘I’m Out!’, refusing to dip into their considerable fortunes.

However, there is a silver lining for father-of-two James. For he has won an order with one of the oldest toy shops in the world, Hamley’s in London.

The famous store will start selling Culica in time for Christmas, while another well-known brand, the Lakeland chain of shops, has also pledged to stock the game.

Said James: “The Dragons didn’t really get the game or me. I tried to play to the crowd a bit and be a bit wacky with the pitch. I even opened with a mime that included a karate chop.

“It’s an entertainment programme and I wanted to make sure that our piece was retained by the show.

“Yes, things could have gone better and we could have won investment. But we got some national TV exposure and, two weeks after filming the show at Pinewood Studios in London, we got confirmation of the Hamley’s purchase-order.”

On its website, Culica is dubbed the “finest game since chess and cards”. Several different versions can be played, including CuSnakes and CuCombat, and each involves inserting coloured pegs into a 3D cube. It is suitable for anyone from aged six upwards.

James came up with the Culica concept three years ago. In 2009, a digital version became available to download for use on the Apple iPhone. But the main aim was always to create a full version for the shops.

James and Chris have now secured a worldwide patent and are working with Circa Distribution, of Brighton, and a marketing manager, Nigel Walton.

Already they have had 5,000 Culica games manufactured in China and are hoping to see it on the shelves of other major stores.

Next year, they will exhibit at the Nuremberg International Toy Show in Germany.

“The ultimate ambition is to see Culica on the shelves of every toy store in the world,” said James. “The toy industry has stagnated. There are no new inventions and everything is a tweak on things that existed before.

“Culica is the first new thing for a generation or more. The Dragons hammered us but I am determined to make this a success. Duncan Bannatyne said he would bet me I couldn’t sell 5,000 games before he died. I took him up on that, shook his hand and bet him a tenner!”