Two Israeli inventors inspired to innovate by pollution on Finchley Road have walked away from the BBC’s Dragon’s Den TV programme with a £125,000 investment after pitching their device that protects babies in prams.
Yosi Romano and Ziv Leinwand got through a tense encounter with the TV investors during the latest episode of the BBC programme, in which entrepreneurs seek financial backing for new products and services.
The pair’s Brizi device for prams and strollers is designed to protect babies and young children from air pollution, and they told the Dragons that “half the children in the UK live in areas where pollution exceeds the safe recommended level”.
The product’s vents sit either side of the baby’s head. It sucks ambient air from one side, filters it, and blows “clean air” through the other, into a child’s breathing space. The duo said they still need to test the batteries, improve the air-flow and re-design the filter to give it a more commercial look.
They were seeking £100,000 for five percent of the company and left with £125,000 from Touker Suleyman, a multi-millionaire businessman, who paid for a 25 percent stake, reducing to 20 percent when the money was paid off.
“It’s been a learning curve, about what makes for good TV entertainment, with its ups and downs,” said Romano, speaking to Jewish News this week. “It’s really edited down. We were actually stood in front of them for almost two hours, but all you see is five or ten minutes. There were a lot more questions and debate.”
He revealed that the programme makers actually approached him. “We didn’t approach them. I did a screen-test in Manchester before the recording. They mentioned more than once Israeli innovation. It was flattering, good for me to hear.”
Romano, who lives near Swiss Cottage, is the father of two young girls – Alma, 4, and Livya, aged eight months – and said this idea came to him while he was walking through one of the centres of north London’s Jewish community.
“While I was walking Alma down Finchley Road, I realised the pram puts babies in the line of exhaust fumes,” he said. “My brother is a biochemist and helped me understand what they were breathing. Idling traffic creates hotspots of pollution.”
Asked about Suleyman, he said: “We’re already working together. He’s very hands-on. He sees it as a do-good project, as we do. We are thrilled with the partner we got. Touker is a warm-hearted man, and he thinks highly of Israeli innovation.”
Does it run in the Jewish genes, does he think? He laughs. “We seek and we talk, you know, one Jewish guy five opinions! The Israeli designer Ron Arad is a friend of my wife’s family and he helped me. We had so many hours debating!”