Dragons' Den 'billions' boaster forced to sell house and sports car
A Dragons' Den reject who boasted that his health food business was worth Â£250 million has had to sell his house and start driving his girlfriend's Smart car after a huge drop in profits.
Marco Hajikypri, 28, boldly claimed that his Professional Gains business would eventually be worth "billions".
He famously told TV star Peter Jones that he would "regret" turning him down, before saying: "I don't class the Dragons as rich".
The entrepreneur set up the company, two-and-a-half years ago and claimed it turned over a huge £5.2 million in the first two years.
He had dreams of buying and doing up his own island in the Caribbean, which would set him back around £150 million.
However, the businessman - who said he could start a business with the like of Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg - has seen a huge 80 per cent fall in sales.
Having project a turnover of £17million this year, he now concedes that the business will make "nowhere near" that, and his base of 38 staff has now reduced to just 10 people in the last four months
He has had to resort to selling raw meat to willing customers, and has to borrow his girlfriend's Smart car after selling his £50,000 Audi Q7.
Mr Hajikypri said that he had turned down a £90 million offer from Coventry businessman Jojar Singh earlier this year - and would now take "a tenth of that offer".
Speaking yesterday (Sun), the businessman, of West Bromwich, West Mids., said: "Going public about that offer the severely dented the business, it's had a huge knock-on effect.
"I think people have perceived me as arrogant and a money-grabber, which simply isn't true.
"Since I spoke about the offer, I've received all sorts of emails and letters of abuse from people, it's really had a detrimental effect on me.
"People have been saying 'you don't deserve the money' and 'I hope you fail', which is always difficult to hear.
"I think people are forgetting that I came from nothing, I used to have to sleep in the back of my car, and started off with £30.
"For me to have turned that into a business is something that I feel I should be praised for, not criticised.
"The fact that I turned down the money and had the ambition to push on and make more is to my credit, I think.
"People don't see the human being behind it, they only see the money.
"At the end of the day, my partner recently had a miscarriage, and the stress caused by the drop in profits and the abuse must have contributed to that.
"I have a responsibility to the people that I employ too, and to have to tell people that there's no work for them breaks my heart.
"I've got to keep on fighting. The aim of the business was to educate people about eating healthily, and that's what I'm going to do.
"Sales are down by 80 per cent and I've had to sell my house and my car.
"I've even started selling cheap raw meat to get customers back and get my cash flow going.
"I'm really gutted. I'm driving a Smart car but it's not a joke.
"The fact that I'm doing that obviously shows that things aren't going as I planned, but a car is something purely materialistic. There are more important things.
"I think I have been portrayed by some media outlets as a money grabber, which is not true because I'm all about giving back. Last year I donated £4,000 worth of food to the homeless.
"I thought my offer was something to be proud of after Dragons' Den, but people thought I came across as arrogant.
"I'm not going to give up though, my goal and vision are still the same and I will keep working."
In July, he said: "The business wasn't for sale, he (Jojar) saw me on Dragon's Den and we had a chat and I explained to him the vision for this company and he put a bid in.
"He said 'come and have a chat with me I want to speak to you.'
"He put in a bid two days ago.
"I declined it because I know what the company is going to be worth.
"Pretend I've got Theirry Henry at 18 years of age - I know he's going to be the best striker in the premiership so I'm not just going to let him go cheap.
"I know this business and what its potential is - I've recently released a kid's game which teaches them how to eat healthily.
"I'm not an idiot, you hear it all the time that people sell their business too early.
"I don't know what I'd sell the business for, £250 million may make me batter an eyelid - but it's going to make billions.
"Avon make over £13.1 billion a year from selling beauty products, I'd be an idiot to sell my business, and someone really has got to put a good offer in.
"I want to buy an island for £48 million and I'm going to get £100 million to do up that island.
"I don't really want to expose where this island is in case someone else puts a bid in but it's in the Caribbean and it's up for sale for £40-60million.
"There are a lot of things I want to buy.
"People believe I'm deluded and that's because they believe in their minds that they can't do it.
"I believe this business will keep growing until the day I die and the business should outgrow me.
"I don't class the Dragons as rich.
"I live like a billionaire in my mind every day.
"I know that if I was sitting at a table with Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg we would start a business together.
"You need money to have freedom and that's what I want.
"What's the point in buying a sports car and a mansion when all I do is live with my partner and go to work every day?
"A Ferrari is just a fast car, that's all it is.
"Where I live there are speed bumps so it wouldn't be very good."