VIDEO: Sheffield businessman hopes Dragons' Den fame will promote invention to protect builders from burns
A straight-talking Sheffield businessman who had the fearsome Dragons' Den investors in stitches believes the invention he showcased on the popular show could bring serious benefits to construction workers.
Simon Meadows, who grew up in Heeley but now lives in Intake, appeared on the BBC Two show last year and won the admiration of judges – but failed to gain any investment for his Splash Stoppa cement mixer lids.
He said since appearing on the show, he has sold thousands of the lids, which are designed to improve safety on construction sites by preventing the possibility of workers suffering cement burns.
Wet cement can cause serious burns or ulcers if it is trapped against the skin and in extreme cases, burns may need a skin graft or lead to a limb being amputated.
When cement mixers are cleaned, they are filled with rubble and water and start spinning, which Simon says causes ‘absolute mayhem’.
“I came up with a loose-fitting lid that throws water back inside the cement mixer,” he said.
Simon, who is aged 46 and director of his own firm SM Construction, said he believes there is a massive market for the product. He will soon be travelling to Florida to discuss potentially selling the lids in America.
He went on Dragons’ Den last year, looking for a £20,000 investment in exchange for a 50 per cent stake in his invention.
The investors declined to put money into the product but Simon won their admiration by making them smile.
After Moonpig founder Nick Jenkins asked Simon why it had taken him 15 years to develop the product, Simon told them: “I like to take my time with things.”
Simon told the Dragons his wife was not entirely convinced by his invention.
“Annette thinks that it is an aeroplane, she keeps wanting to know when it is going to take off,” he said.
Entrepreneur Sarah Willingham said she would like to go to the pub with him.
Simon said that despite being disappointed not to receive financial backing, he had enjoyed meeting the Dragons.
“I loved it, it was fun,” he said. “When I came out of the lift and saw the five Dragons, I started smiling and laughing and Peter Jones started laughing with me.”
He said he has sold around 3,000 of the cement mixer lids in the last 12 months.
He said: “I have had the idea for about 15 years and never got round to it.
“My dad died and I thought that I would put some money into it and get on with it.”
He said he is aiming to mix business with pleasure in America, where he will go on a road trip with his 21-year-old son as well as attending meetings about his product.
Last year, Simon was invited to 11 Downing Street to meet Chancellor George Osborne after being shortlisted as a finalist in the Britain’s Top Tradesman competition.
He said it had been an amazing experience and he told Mr Osborne about the need to train more apprentices.