A twist in the Dragon’s tale…
Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Applied Language Solutions, bravely entered the Dragons’ Den with a very unusual offer. This time, the Dragons’ eyes’ failed to spot the excellent investment opportunity.
AVAILABLE FOR IMMEDIATE USE Date of issue: 1/03/07

Dragon’s Den, the famous show where entrepreneurs pitch to secure investment from five elite entrepreneurs who claim to have an eye for ‘the next big thing’. Just how good are they at spotting excellent business opportunities? On last night’s BBC2 show the hard-hitting Dragons failed to invest in one Yorkshire entrepreneur’s language solutions business that provides translation for everything for tattoos to whole websites and professional interpreting services. Instead, the Dragons’ preferred to give Gavin Wheeldon a grilling over his £6 million company valuation and bold pitch for £250,000 to invest in global expansion, in return for just 4% in the business. He was told he was running a business in a very competitive market and, in their eyes, had greatly overvalued his company, Applied Language Solutions. But the serial entrepreneur has shown that sometimes even the most successful entrepreneurs can fail to recognise a good idea when it is right in front of them. Today, they must be eating their words! Just four months since filming, Applied Language’s estimated annual turnover has increased massively from the £3.2 million Gavin proposed to the Dragons to a whopping £3.7 million, proving that his estimated valuation is achievable. In the short period of time, Gavin’s business has enjoyed phenomenal success having won major contracts worth thousands for the United Nations and Google, with more major deals in the pipeline. Expansion has been seen in other areas of the business with the addition of almost 30 staff to their international team and the introduction of professional face-to-face and instant telephone interpreting to their services portfolio. Despite not securing investment, Gavin has stayed true to his pitch as the company is also now preparing to spread its wings into Asia with the opening of not one, but two offices at the beginning of March. Described by Theo Paphitis as an “intelligent and very capable” man, the Dragon’s were impressed by Gavin’s entrepreneurial skills, but identified an apparent flaw in his pitch. Gavin estimated the company’s future value at £6 million, not realising his fatal mistake in arriving at such a figure based on previous financial earnings before tax. Consequently, all but one of the Dragon’s failed to identify such potential in investing in the business. Whilst Richard Farleigh was distinctively shocked at such a bold offer of just a 4% share in the business, the lowest ever known on Dragon’s Den, Peter Jones and Theo gave Gavin a roasting on what they considered to be a “high-risk strategy with no return on investment”. Twist in the Tale However, Duncan Bannatyne saw a very risky but money-making investment opportunity. Impressed with Gavin’s business acumen and cheeky sales attitude, Duncan made him an offer on the proviso Richard Farleigh would match it. Unfortunately, Richard decided it wasn’t for him. Despite not securing investment, one of the Dragon’s has made their high hopes for the success of both Gavin and the business clear, and has offered to be a non-executive chairman at no cost to the company. A delighted Gavin enthused: “This means we will have access to a very successful entrepreneur’s advice, knowledge and experience. I have already been in talks with the Dragon’s camp and we are in the process of finalising a meeting for when we are both available and in the same country!”

Gavin has shown that you can get where you want through sheer hard work and determination. Despite not being able to speak any foreign tongues, Gavin runs a highly successful translation and interpretation company that provides professional translation and interpretation in over 150 languages, has 6 offices worldwide and a 60-strong team proud to serve big name customers, including Nike, United Nations and Robbie Williams. He founded the company in October 2003 from his back bedroom using his final wage after realising that no-one in the translation industry were capitalising on the opportunities offered by technology to provide quicker, cheaper and improved quality translation services. This is essentially where the company’s competitive edge lies today. Gavin said about his experience of the Dragons’ wrath: “I’m not a man afraid to take risks, but facing the Dragons was at times intimidating, especially when they started to contest the financial evaluation of the company, especially as I was only offering a 4% share in the company. The Dragons had never come across such a low offer, and were rather surprised.” “I did admit that I had made mistake of estimating figures before tax to the Dragons. I managed to negotiate my way through the tough questions by trying to justify my valuation through focusing on the massive and organic growth Applied Language has enjoyed since 2003.” “However, the recent success we have achieved is testament to our hard work as a company. I have strong aspirations for Applied Language and everything I said we would achieve in my pitch, it has and in a shorter timescale. The Dragon’s obviously missed out on a fantastic investment opportunity.” “We have expanded every aspect of the business, including our ever-growing International team, professional interpreting services and our global presence with the opening of two offices in March. This will see us achieve 24 hour global coverage.”
Applied Language Solutions translate all kinds of documents from simple letters to large technical documents, including whole websites and printed catalogues, for specialist Medical, Legal, Financial and Marketing organisations. The company is committed to using only professional in-country translators and interpreters, of whom they have over 6,000 on their books. These translators work in over 150 languages including all the major European, Asian, African, Middle Eastern and American languages. Applied Language Solutions now have eight offices world wide: Huddersfield, California, Paris, Barcelona, Sofia, Guatemala City, Hong Kong and India, and are proud to be the winners of HSBC Start-Up Star Awards 2006. For a FREE quote visit or call +44 (0)870 172 0000 in the UK or +1 (800) 579 5010 in the US to talk to one of the team.

For press and media enquiries please call: Stacey Rose – PR Executive on +44 (0)870 225 0243 or email Applied Language Solutions High quality language solutions delivered on time …with a smile! Yorkshire Office Park, Armitage Bridge, Huddersfield HD4 7NR. UK. Tel (UK): +44 (0)845 367 7000 Tel (US): +1 (800) 579-5010