Since investment on the den, Rapstrap has been strengthening its patents and investing in further research and development. By 2012, Rapstrap will have established manufacturing capabilities for sales via distributors. Early order requests indicate a strong distribution in North America with annual sales expected at 1.3 million units. Distribution in Japan and the UK each indicate volumes in excess of 130 million units. As a supporter of entrepreneurship, Andy has started to inspire others by delivering speeches at schools and University discussing his experience on Dragons’ Den and the challenges and rewards involved in entrepreneurship.
“Since appearing on the Den, Rapstrap is taking orders like never before. James doesn’t just open the doors, he tears the walls down as well!” Andy Harsley
The Rapstrap is a new, generation of highly efficient cable ties. The single twelve inch Rapstrap typically replaces up to four standard ties, greatly reducing waste and lowering costs. It won’t pinch or crimp like nylon ties, and it is flexible enough to be used on plants or other delicate installations. The soft and flexible design stretches by 80% or more, enabling accommodation of larger bindings. Straps can be tensioned by pulling them as tight as required and they can also be double looped for use on plants and canes. They can be removed and re-used multiple times.
Andy Harsley had the original idea for Rapstrap 20 years ago, whilst tying dustbin bags. The Prince’s Trust provided him with initial support, however the early prototypes, despite many attempts, proved difficult to perfect. Moving on from outsourcing development work to professional moulding firms, Andy rented a workshop and bought the necessary equipment to develop the prototype himself. Thanks to Ebay, machines started arriving in 2006, and in just over a year he began generating sales. The next challenge was growing the business. However, it require an investment beyond what Andy could raise alone, so he spent the latter part of 2007 writing and rewriting business plans. He was attracting interest and even had firm offers on the table, but Andy was looking for a special investor, hence he then applied to Dragons’ Den.
Andy was encouraged to apply to the Den by friends, and within weeks found himself in front of the dragons’, pitching his product. Theo and Deborah started the onslaught, exploring every weak point they could find with the business. Andy held his own and responded as a true entrepreneur. Fortunately, James was interested, and with a nod from Duncan, made an offer in return for 50% of the business. None of the other dragons offered a better deal, and in fact they encouraged Andy to accept the offer.
“Having done my homework and watching a few of the shows, I knew the golden rule: If they make you an offer, take it. How many people have walked back down those stairs empty-handed? And for what? Giving up a few percent extra? I’m not that sentimental. So I took Duncan and James up on their offer. With a tried and tested support team, years of business experience, and armed with not one, but two Blackberry’s full of contacts, how can working with James and Duncan be anything other than exhilarating?” Andy Harsley