‘THIS is going to change my life forever’ – these are the words an excited entrepreneur used after his business idea was backed by of one of Britain’s leading tech tycoons.
Mark Boyt appeared on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den and secured £60,000 from business guru Peter Jones to help his fledgling drone company get off the ground.
His firm is a database website which helps UK businesses track and hire licensed drone pilots who have the permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to fly drones.
He kicked off his bid with a ‘make or break’ flight of a drone in the den, whiched wowed the panel of five business personalities.
And despite rushing through his pitch for his company, his idea received three offers from the panel – with dragons at one point squabbling with each other over who would clinch the deal.
But it was tech giant Peter Jones who became the 41-year-old’s business partner.
Mr Boyt, who grew up in Chichester but now lives in Bersted near Bognor, said: ‘This was the most nerve-wracking thing I have ever done and I would never like to do it again but I got the dragon that I wanted and I’m delighted.
‘I was taken aback by the whole thing, it was just a blur. This was the hardest thing I have ever done.
‘I had a huge amount of pressure on my shoulders – I had to fly the drone in and I knew if I crashed it that would have been the end of my business.
‘But when Peter Jones backed me I didn’t cry but I had watery eyes. I couldn’t believe that these people believed in what I was doing.’
Mr Boyt was initially offered all the cash for 50 per cent of his business by Mr Jones – the highest slice tabled by any of the three dragons eager to invest.
The dad-of-two took a risk and bartered with Mr Jones, saying he would ‘shake his hand right now’ for 40 per cent – a move the tycoon instantly accepted.
Reacting on Twitter, the business guru – who has a passion for drones – said: ‘Delighted with my investment in http://www.dronesaferegister.org.uk. Great idea to connect customers looking for aerial photography with fully qualified drone pilot. @dronesafereg @BBCDragonsDen.’
Mr Boyt said the investment will change his life and that of his family.
‘I’ve worked so hard at this for two and a half years,’ he said. ‘I’ve been doing 18-hour days and I hadn’t taken any money for it.
‘In December I didn’t even have £18 in my bank account to pay for my son’s mobile phone. It was that tough.
‘But I always believed in my business.’
Mark praised the support of his family, his two boys Tom, 15, and Toby, 12, partner Corina Smith and her children Daisy, 21, and Jodie, 22.
‘They’ve been incredibly supportive, there’s no way I could have achieved what I have achieved without them,’ he said.
Mark started his business after working in marketing at a used cars sale company.
When he found many people in his area were operating drones illegally, he thought there was a market for drone hire.
He now has about 400 professional drone pilot signed up and 500 hobbyist members, including many from the Portsmouth area.
He added he hopes to expand this with Mr Jones’s support.
For details on his firm, see dronesaferegister.org.uk