It smells like ‘I’ve been dragged along and left up a lemon tree’
A former Pinsent Masons solicitor has left the Dragons’ Den empty-handed after his range of aftershaves and shaving products failed to impress the millionaire entrepreneurs.
Having spent roughly seven years as a corporate lawyer, Robert Hallmark (pictured) is now the proud owner of Gruhme UK Limited, a quintessentially British men’s fragrance company. Keen to get his hands on some much-needed investment, Hallmark — who spent three years at Pinsent Masons and a further two years at DLA Piper in Birmingham — appeared on BBC 2’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ over the weekend. He was seeking £75,000 for 15% of his business.
Opting for a sartorial style synonymous with corporate lawyers, the Durham University law graduate wore a smart blue suit and pocket square combo. And the tactic, for a fleeting moment, appeared to work. Following a fairly smooth opening pitch, the show’s Deborah Meaden — who is reported to have a net worth of over £40 million — commented on how the ex-lawyer represented his “brand very well”.
But fellow Dragon Peter Jones was not a fan of Hallmark’s scent. Likening it to being “dragged along and left up a lemon tree”, the multimillionaire quickly ruled himself out as a potential investor.
Describing his change of career as a “gamble” and an “itch” he just had to “scratch”, Hallmark revealed that his Gruhme business had turned over just £30,000 in the previous year, considerably less than what he have pocketed as a corporate lawyer. Despite citing deals that he had struck with hotel chains, other Dragons quickly poked holes in Hallmark’s business.
Turkish Cypriot business magnate Touker Suleyman questioned his branding. With a British-made product, Suleyman said the ex-solicitor had “missed a big trick” not picking an “old English name” and suggested, rather bluntly, that he go back to being a corporate lawyer.
With Hallmark left dejected, Moonpig.com founder Nick Jenkins, personal finance expert Sarah Willingham, and Meaden — who had initially taken a shine to the former lawyer — all quickly ruled themselves out too.
Leaving the den without an investment, the Dragons then turned to discuss who the lawyer looked like. One suggested it was Mr Incredible, while another — who probably should have been wearing their glasses during the pitch — was adamant he was a dead-ringer for ‘Toy Story’ character Buzz Lightyear. And as for Hallmark himself, he said:
I am not feeling Mr Incredible at the moment. It surprised me that they were so unwilling to have a crack.
This isn’t the first time a solicitor has appeared before the Dragons. Back in 2014 former HBJ Gateley Wareing associate Chris Gibson pitched his incredible zippable ‘SuperTie’. Gibson, like Hallmark, left empty-handed.
You can watch Hallmark’s appearance in full here.
For all the latest news, features, events and jobs, sign up to Legal Cheek’s weekly newsletter here.