Books, DVDs, and video games are great sources of entertainment. But what do you do when you’re done with them? Zapper.co.uk allows you to monetise your old junk. Simply scan the barcodes of the items to learn their value and sell them. Founder Ben Hardyment scored the largest investment on Dragons’ Den from Theo Paphitis. As of 2023, Zapper is worth £3 million.
About the Founders
Ben Hardyment is from London and has a bachelor’s degree in English and American literature from the University of Warwick. Furthermore, he studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California.
Ben first worked as the director of Urban Eye Films, where he produced commercials and documentaries. He later founded Webflix.co.uk, the UKs first online DVD rental company and sold it to a competitor for over £100,000.
Although Ben was pitching the product, Mat White was his business partner behind the scenes who was the tech expert. Mat is from Harrogate, England, and is the founder and technical director of Explosive Media.
Founding the Company
After eight years of building internet businesses, Hardyment discovered that there was no shortage of people wanting to get rid of books, DVDs, and video games.
Ben worked with Mat to develop a website that allows users to scan existing barcodes of items and in return receive a cash valuation. If you agree to sell a check will be mailed to you. If the item doesn’t have retail value, they can recycle or refurbish it.
Ben launched Zapper in 2007 and put in £50,000 to get the business started. He also raised a collective £50,000 from three investors who received 10% equity each. Before getting onto the show, Zapper was making £150,000 but didn’t have much cash flow.
Dragons’ Den Appearance
In 2012, Ben was looking to raise money to upgrade their online platform and appeared on series 10 of Dragons’ Den series ten. Ben Hardyment suited up to ask for £250,000 in return for a 7.5% equity stake.
The entrepreneur introduced a unique business model to the panel. However, the Dragons had a problem with the fact that he handed out equity to other investors at a lower valuation.
For that reason, four Sharks went out one by one. Theo Paphitis kept quiet until he revealed his interest in the startup, but he offered £250,000 for a 30% share. After Ben called Mat to help him decide on stage, the duo accepted the deal.
After Dragons’ Den
Despite giving a weak pitch in the Den, Zapper scored the biggest ever investment from a Dragon. Unfortunately the deal with Theo never closed after the show. It’s common for deals to fall apart in the due diligence stage and sometimes entrepreneurs also change their mind.
Nevertheless, Zapper is still in business today and is based in West Hampstead, London. People who want to try out their services can do so by visiting their website, Zapper.co.uk. Zapper has a 4-star average from 3,088 reviews on Trustpilot. With Mat White at the helm, Zapper is worth £3 million and makes an estimated $2 million in annual revenue.
Ben left the business in 2015 to focus on new ventures. He founded Catalyst-Protocol, they were trying to use blockchain technology to become a “decentralised digital content version of eBay”. Currently, he is now the CEO of Gameroo, a trading platform which allows people to buy and sell pre-owned console games, CDs, books & collectibles.