The first show of the new series, which aired on 24 July, saw Craft Clubs’ co-founders Jon Hulme and John Burke receiving the investment in return for a 12.5% stake in their start-up and an advisory role from Willingham within the company as it seeks to expand and grow over the next 12 weeks.
Willingham will take an active role in guiding the subscription service, which already sends more than 4,000 bottles of gin and sparkling wine each month to members across the UK.
Hulme and Burke, who jointly launched Craft Gin Club in January 2015, have admitted they were hoping to attract Willingham’s investment, having been impressed by her success and experience in the food and beverage industry.
Hulme said: “We entered the Dragons’ Den process really excited about the prospect of working with Sarah. She and her team have an incredible amount of experience in the drinks space, and we are hoping that Craft Clubs can really benefit from their combined wisdom. This is a great outcome for us, and hopefully for Sarah and her team as well.”
Willingham said: “When you are sitting there in the Den you genuinely have no idea who will come through the lift door next, but as soon as I heard Craft Clubs’ pitch I knew is was a business I wanted to be part of. They are two great entrepreneurs with a fantastic idea backed up by a really solid and scaleable business plan. Not only do we all share a passion for business, we also get pretty excited about a great gin and tonic, which I’m sure will make board meetings fun!”
The London-based Craft Clubs currently operated two brands, Craft Gin Club and Bubble Club. The clubs are described as the “UK’s number one discovery clubs for gin enthusiatsts and fans of sparkling wine respectively”.
Each month club members receive a surprise box featuring craft gin or sparkling wines from small producers, together with complementary mixers, cocktail ingredients and other treats, plus a club magazine.
To date the clubs have sent out more than 25,000 bottles of craft gin and sparkling wine to members across the UK.