Charles Ejogo

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Charles Ejogo (born 1976) is a British entrepreneur who is the inventor of the Umbrolly umbrella vending machine.[1] Ejogo appeared on the first episode of the UK television programme Dragons' Den where he "won" £150,000 funding for his "Umbrolly" umbrella vending machines.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Born and raised in Chelsea, London, Ejogo is the son of Charles (Snr) and Elizabeth Douglas. His father (now deceased) was a Nigerian entrepreneur and his mother a Scottish tour guide.[citation needed] Ejogo attended the London Oratory School in Fulham, before going on to read Law at Staffordshire University, and then History and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. His sister, Carmen Ejogo, is a successful actress.

Ejogo worked in private banking for Merrill Lynch (in New York and London) and then briefly for Deutsche Bank before going on to set up Umbrolly.[3]

Dragons' Den[edit]

In 2005, Ejogo won the first ever episode of the British version of the business reality television programme Dragons' Den. In the episode, broadcast on 5 January 2005, his pitch for investment in an umbrella vending machine business resulted in Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones making a joint offer of £150,000, which he accepted. Seven months later, the deal collapsed[4][5] and taking the advice of Dragon Peter Jones, Ejogo set up a new company without his original business partners, allowing him to start afresh.[6]


After the collapse of the deal in the Dragons' Den, Ejogo began working with Seymour Powell[7] to design, and launch a new smaller umbrella vending machine.[8] In October 2007, he secured significant equity investment from Burlington Investment Partners to relaunch the business. Between 2008 and 2010, Ejogo grew the business nationally and internationally with significant[peacock term] growth in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, and the US.[9][10] In March 2010, the UK arm of the business ceased to trade, when it lost its UK operating partner, Photo-Me International, following the resignation of its CEO. The business still provides consultative services, and overseas sales of its products to new and existing customers.[11]


Ejogo was awarded the "Innovator of the Year" award by the Department of Trade and Industry in 2006, winning the BT Vending "Innovation of the Year" award, in the same year. In 2007, his Umbrolly vending machines won runner-up in the "Product of the Year" category for Vending Magazine.[12]

Public Speaking[edit]

Ejogo has spoken at numerous public events including "Winners – The Rise and Rise of Black British Entrepreneurs"[3] at the British Library, and "Coffee, Croissants, and £2,000,000 Investment" in association with Grant Thornton. He also shared the speaking platform with Peter Jones at The Guardian Graduate Fair in 2008. He is a passionate supporter of youth and children's enterprise, speaking at the London School of Economics, Bristol University, and numerous schools[which?] across the UK.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "The Rise and Rise of British Black Entrepreneurs". Retrieved 29 December 2010. [dead link]
  2. ^ [1] Archived 16 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b Laura Smith (13 July 2006). "Black entrepreneurs break through the red line | Money". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Dragons' Den". Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Dragon's den charles ejogo of umbrolly shares his experience with YHP | YHP". Your Hidden Potential. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Seymour Powell and Design Stream rescue entrepreneurs from Dragons' Den.(Seymour Powell Design Associates)(BoxBrands gives the contract to design its mobile charging units)". Design Week. 26 October 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "Seymour Powell and Design Stream rescue entrepreneurs from Dragons' Den". 2006-10-26. Retrieved 2010-12-29. (subscription required)
  9. ^ "The innovation factory". The Archived from the original on 7 December 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  10. ^ Umbrolly. "Umbrolly | Update". Springwise. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  11. ^ "index". 19 January 2010. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Black entrepreneurs honoured at awards". Startups. Retrieved 29 December 2010.