The founder of the iTeddy talks exclusively to New Business about being entrepreneurial from a young age, how it felt to pitch on Dragons' Den, working with Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis and how he developed a product that is now sold in 45 countries.

Were you always entrepreneurial?
Yes, from a very early age. I always wanted to do things differently and I think that came about from being sacked from my first job at McDonalds. The manager took me aside as I was always asking awkward questions and thought that there were better ways to do things. I always remember what he said to me when I left: ‘You're a kid from Bolton - if you think that you know about business then you're dreaming.'

What was your first business?
I started buying and selling computers when I was 15. I borrowed £2,000 from my father and told him I would pay him back within a year, but I actually paid him back within a week! I learnt very important business skills such as buying, selling, negotiating and dealing with suppliers at a very early age.

How did you come up with the concept for iTeddy?

I was sitting at home with my younger brother talking about what would be a good present for our niece. He came up with an idea that I thought was a bit passé and he challenged me to come up with a better one. I thought about taking something which has been around for a hundred years like a teddy and combining it with the kind of technology that children have got all around them, such as digital cameras, mobile phones and MP3 players. The more that I thought about it - this teddy bear that could play music and tell stories - the more feasible it seemed. That is literally how it started - a little bit of fun and sibling rivalry.

Is it correct you were approached for Dragons' Den?
Yes, I was at a networking event and their cameras were scouting for people who had ideas. I was actually there as one of my friends was pitching his idea and he was a bit camera shy. So when they approached him, he suggested I talk about the iTeddy, which at that point was only bit of paper in my back pocket. I was supposed to talk for three minutes and I really didn't think that I could talk about it for that long, but eight minutes later they had to drag me off!
I started buying and selling computers when I was 15. I borrowed £2,000 from my father and told him I would pay him back within a year, but I actually paid him back within a week

How nervous were you pitching on the show?
I don't actually get nervous very often, and part of the reason for that is because I try and prepare myself as well as possible and surround myself with the right information. I knew that I had done my homework. I saw it as an opportunity; if I could get them to share my vision then it would be the start of a fantastic new chapter in my life. But I could also see the risk - all my family were watching so if I wilted then it could have been quite damaging for my reputation.

You negotiated Theo and Peter down on the equity they took- would you have walked away if they hadn't of agreed?
No entrepreneur worth their salt would take the first offer on the table, you're always going to haggle. But, at the same time I wanted to make sure that I got the deal done. And knowing what I know now, I would sacrifice much more equity than I eventually gave away.

How is it working with Peter and Theo?
They are both quite different. With Theo, what you see is what you get - he really is a Dragon in real life! He is a no-nonsense kind of guy but is really easy to talk to. Peter's style is very different, he's very good with the cameras and very charismatic. He inspires and energises the team around him to go out and do whatever is necessary to achieve what needs to be done. They both bring very different skill sets and attributes to the table and I've managed to extract a lot of very different positives from them.

What are the working arrangements with the Dragons?
On a monthly basis we have a financial meeting but I also have contact with them as and when it's needed. I won't bother them with stuff that they don't need to know but for strategic decision making and important issues we are in contact as often as is required to get the job done.

How many countries is the iTeddy sold in?
We're now selling into 45 countries around the world and have done a distribution deal with a company called Vivid Imaginations. At that point they took on the management of all the fields worldwide. We've done millions and millions of pounds of sales. Every major UK toy retailer is signed up to distribute the product

How long between conception of product to it appearing on retail shelves?
It only took six months, it occurred in record time. I was working 24 hours a day and sleeping on the factory floor to make it happen!

What business moment has given the most satisfaction?
When we won the Toy Innovation of the Year award out of one million toys at the world Toy Oscars in Germany. We turned up in our hoodies as we didn't realise it was a very formal occasion and everybody had their black ties on! Out of a million toys we came in the top three with the other two being Hasbro and Mattel. That was quite a proud moment as it demonstrated that anyone can do it; we were just a couple of kids whereas the other two were multi-billion conglomerates.

What business advice would you give to entrepreneurs?
Never fear failure - it puts off far too many people. Some of the biggest and best entrepreneurs out there hold their hands up to not getting it right every time. Peter always says that the first time round is a lesson. We get it wrong, we fall down but we learn the lesson and make sure that we don't do it again. If you get it wrong the second time then it's a mistake, as you haven't learned your lesson.

The other thing I'd say is: take action. There are people out there with great ideas that will never come to fruition because they just won't take the first few steps to make it happen. People say to me that my design was so simple, and, yes it is, but I got off my backside and did something about it.