Edible dog birthday card business earns Dragon's backing

By Tim Aldred

16 Feb 2024

Scoff Paper Dragons Den

Scoff Paper, which produces birthday cards that your dog can eat, has secured £50,000 of investment after appearing on BBC One's Dragons’ Den.

The business has been created by Buckshaw-based entrepreneur Gemma Connolly who won £15,000 at the Lancashire Innovation Challenge in 2022. 

On the show, aired February 15th, she faced a tough grilling from the panel, before investor Sara Davies agreed to put forward the money in return for 25 per cent of the company.

In the Den, the Dragons heard how the idea Scoff Paper came to Gemma in 2020 after trying to make edible paper for her dog, Loki, while in lockdown.

Having started off on the kitchen table experimenting with potato peelings and other edible ingredients, Gemma refined the process and soon created a prototype which was robust, printable, and safe for dogs to eat.

Gemma then developed a commercially viable product which she began selling via the online marketplace, Etsy. Shealso persuaded local pet stores and garden centres to stock her canine-friendly cards, which in turn led to deals with the likes of Pets at Home, John Lewis, Clintons Cards, Aldi, and B&M.

In addition to the financial and mentoring support which Gemma received after winning the Lancashire Innovation Challenge – a competition for entrepreneurs run by Lancashire County Council as part of its Innovate Lancashire initiative - she has also enjoyed support from Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub.

In 2021 Gemma contacted Boost and enjoyed guidance and coaching in areas such as digital marketing, e-commerce, finance, and staff training.

Now, having both the financial and strategic backing of Sara Davies, and the huge publicity generated by her successful pitch to the Dragons on prime-time TV, Gemma is aiming to take the Scoff Paper brand global.

Gemma, who is also a Guide Dogs for the Blind Ambassador, said of her Dragons' Den experience: “I’m not good at blowing my own trumpet, but I gave it everything I had when I went into The Den and was proud of my presentation and my responses to the Dragons’ subsequent grilling. It probably helped that I had Leo by my side.

"When Sara said she believed in me and my vision, it meant so much. I’m over the moon that she chose to invest in my little company that’s got its eye on global domination. After all, is there a dog on this planet that doesn’t love a tasty treat? With Sara’s know-how and support, I can put 100 per cent of my time and focus into our business and get the bespoke manufacturing facility running at maximum capacity."

Maya Ellis, LCC’s innovation programme lead said: "For Gemma to have secured a significant investment from the likes of Sara Davies on Dragons' Den is incredibly impressive and a great advert for Lancashire's creative and commercial spirit.

"To know that winning our Innovation Challenge helped Gemma to successfully expand her company is also fantastic, and it demonstrates how initiatives like Innovate Lancashire can really help grow dynamic Lancashire businesses like Scoff Paper."

Enjoyed this? Read more from Tim Aldred

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