NICK JENKINS, one of the newest recruits for BBC's Dragon's Den programme, told a group of Salisbury business men and women that he might have thought twice about the company that made his fortune -

Having created his own investment pot dealing in sugar in Russia as a young entrepreneur, he came back to Britain needing to find a new business venture.

He said the internet was in his infancy - "when I give talks to schools and young people they have trouble even thinking about a world without the internet" - and he needed to find a product that could use on the benefits of selling online and one that he could add value to.

Nick who was guest speaker at the Salisbury Business Club said: "I had the habit already of sending cards where I would cross out the printed caption and insert my own, which was always funnier, and after some thought I came up with the greetings card idea.

"This was something that people could design on their own computers at home but then when they sent their design to us we would add it to card, which was essentially the same product."

But while the cards proved popular the business was still eating up cash at a rate that he was finding hard to sustain. "When you go to investors for the fourth time saying 'I know the previous three plans were rubbish but this really is the one' it takes some convincing. If I had stood in front of the Dragons at that point I doubt I would have got investment."

However, he had the good fortune of having the support of an American investor who had complete faith in him and his business and was able to take it further.

He said other competitors had entered the market though and their way of keeping track of their progress was to buy a card every month and note the serial number on the back, which gave them a rough idea on sales when they compared one number with another.

The strongest of the competitors was using tv advertising and, while it went bust, they were able to see that the tv adverts produced significant increases in sales.

"I looked at the numbers and could see that it would work for us. It was tv that made the difference. We went from a £3 million turnover to a £45 million turnover in a very short time."