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Churchill Gowns pitch successfully to Dragons’ Den


A startup supported by Cambridge Social Ventures secured a £60k investment after pitching to BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den.

Churchill Gowns secure investment on BBC's Dragon's Den.
Photo ©Fay Summerfield: Churchill Gown’s co-founders with BBC’s Dragons’ Den investor, Deborah Meaden.

Churchill Gowns, a startup that offers affordable graduation gowns made from recycled materials, has secured a £60k investment after pitching to BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den programme on Sunday 18 August. The co-founders, Oliver Adkins and Ruth Nicholls, received offers from Deborah Meaden and Touker Suleyman, ultimately opting to accept Deborah Meaden’s investment in exchange for 22 per cent of the business.

The startup, founded in 2017 in London, was supported by Cambridge Social Ventures, part of the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School. The team aims to disrupt the graduation market and offer a more sustainable and affordable service to students.

Ruth Nicholls and Oliver Adkins, co-founders of Chuchill Gowns.
Photo ©Fay Summerfield: Ruth Nicholls and Oliver Adkins

“When it came to our graduation day, we were really surprised to find that there was not a lot of choice when it came to hiring our gowns, and the costs seemed really high given you’re only wearing a gown for a couple of hours,” Ruth said. “We were confident that we could offer a simple online ordering and home delivery service, which would be more convenient and save our customers money.”

Oliver Adkins, who is also an alumnus of Cambridge Judge Business School (PGDE 2015), said the investment will help to grow the business:

“We were really just hoping to walk away from the Den with one offer, so to have a vote of confidence from not one but two Dragons was really overwhelming. Deborah’s investment will enable us to expand to more universities around the UK offering students a more sustainable and affordable choice.”