Dragon slayer back at University of Northampton

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A former University of Northampton student who shot to fame after appearing on Dragon’s Den, has returned to his old stomping ground to pass on his experiences.

Joe Smith, an English and philosophy graduate, met current students to share his experiences of starting his own business.

He also used the visit to launch a competition to create the designs for the ‘Grumpy Gardener’, his new range of gardening products.

Mr Smith, aged 32, of Kingsthorpe Hollow, and his dad, Mike, aged 54, appeared on the hit TV show with their first product, the wheelbarrow booster, which increases the capacity of wheelbarrows.

Duncan Bannatyne and Hilary Devey made them a joint offer of £50,000 for a 50 per cent share of their company, GreanBase, but they turned it down as they did not want to lose such a large share.

Since then, demand for the product has increased, and Mr Smith is in talks with B&Q to supply products to them.

He has already secured Tesco Direct and Homebase as clients.

Mr Smith said: “I really enjoyed my time at The University of Northampton, so I thought it was important to stay involved with the student community after I graduated.

“I’ve always been keen to support the university and students, as the university plays a large part in supporting local business.

“I wanted to help design students get practical experience that would be useful once they graduated.

“This competition will give them creative experience of creating graphics for a real product. I’m really looking forward to seeing the design entries.”

Alex Taylor, lecturer in graphic communication, said: “The university has strong links with our alumni community and regularly welcome them back to share their story, especially people like Joe, who have such an interesting story to tell to our current students.

“Taking Joe’s design competition brief and creating his new branding will be a great project for our students and will give them a taste for what their future careers may hold.

“Creating the design concepts for Joe will be a good addition to students’ portfolios.”

The design concepts will be shortlisted by Mr Smith, Mr Taylor and industry experts in February, before being launched in 2014.

For more information on Mr Smith’s company visit www.greanbase.co.uk