Inventor laughs loudest as Dragon's Den turns down £1.2m horn idea

A Londoner whose invention could save thousands of cyclists lives worldwide has had the last laugh on the Dragon's Den panel who rejected his idea. Tom de Pelet, 36, invented the world’s loudest horn after he himself had a few near misses on the streets of  London.

The Dragon's Den

The Dragon's Den panel. Image by Mikey / CC BY 2.0

Now his invention is set to reach sales worth £1.2 million this year – leaving the television entrepreneurial experts red-faced. The happy horn-maker appeared last night on the show where Kelly Hoppen, Peter Jones, Piers Linney, Duncan Bannatyne and Deborah Meaden, all sat on their hands instead of offering him support for his patented Hornit bicyle horn.

It is now 10 months since the Dragons’ Den filming was done and in the intervening time, the turnover of both the Hornit and a new Mini Hornit designed for children’s bikes and scooters, has hit over half a million pounds. And what will definitely leave alarm-bells ringing in the Dragons’ ears is that this year Mr de Pelet expects sales of his brainchild to hit well over a million pounds.

He had no regrets about the Dragons not coming on board. He described the experience as a mixture of fear, terror and enjoyment but added that the outcome “could not have been better.”

The Evening Standard reports that de Pelet, from Barnes, was inspired to design the £30 horn after spending many years on his bike going to law school and after that to his job in the city.

The father of two recalled all the near-misses he had largely because drivers hadn’t noticed him. He decided he had to make something which would allow them to hear him. So sure was he that he was onto something that he quit his city job four years ago and invested £60,000 from his own saving to design and produce the horn.

Like all success stories, there were plenty of obstacles to overcome – a major one being when 80% of the Hornits arrived faulty to his door. But like every good inventor, Tom saw the bright side and used the 20% that were working to start selling across the country and online. He also sent numerous samples around the world.

The Hornits are so loud at 140-decibels that they can be heard even if drivers have radios on as well as over all the other sounds of a city.

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