Rachel Elnaugh

Rachel Elnaugh
Born (1964-12-12) 12 December 1964
Essex, England
Education Chelmsford County High School for Girls
Known for Dragons' Den
Children 5 (from various relationships)
Website www.rachelelnaugh.com

Rachel Elnaugh (born 12 December 1964) is a British entrepreneur who founded the UK gift company Red Letter Days. She was one of the investors participating in the first two series of BBC Two's TV show Dragons' Den.

Early life

Her family lived above her father's electrical shop, and she attended Chelmsford County High School for Girls. She originally wanted to take art history, but she was rejected by five universities,[1] and she climbed the corporate ladder from being an office junior in a local firm of accountants to becoming a qualified tax consultant with Arthur Andersen.


Red Letter Days

In 1989 Elnaugh founded Red Letter Days, one of the first UK companies to sell experiential gifts such as motor racing days, hot air ballooning and health spa days.[2]

The company grew to a £18million turnover, and led to Elnaugh's being a 2001/2 finalist in the Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

After an attempt to expand the business into the retail sector, Red Letter Days went into administration on 1 August 2005; the remaining assets and goods were bought by fellow Dragons' Den judges Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis.

ITV1's Tonight programme criticized the business model of Red Letter Days, which included unpaid suppliers and disappointed purchasers. The programme suggested that the company failed to escrow or earmark supplier payment equity, instead using it for working capital. However, Elnaugh blamed Red Letter Days' bankers.[3]

Dragons' Den

In the mid 2000s, Elnaugh joined the BBC TV series Dragons' Den.[2] She was one of the five investors ("Dragons") in the first two series of the show, making five agreed investment offers - in Grails, Le Beanock, Snowbone, Elizabeth Galton and Bedlam Puzzles.

After Dragons Den and Red Letter Days

Her book Business Nightmares about the fine line between business success and failure was published by Crimson in May 2008. After this, Elnaugh was a business mentor for other entrepreneurs, and founded the digital publishing and marketing platform Source TV in 2013. Her book PROSPERITY was published on 23 April 2016.


  • Business Nightmares: When Entrepreneurs Hit Crisis Point... 8 May 2008, Crimson, ISBN 1-85458-409-X
  • "PROSPERITY" 23 April 2016, Source Publishing


  1. "Dragon back in her den". The Observer. 11 December 2005. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  2. 1 2 "Interview with Rachel Elnaugh". celebpreneur.com. 11 August 2007. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2009. (link via Internet Archive)
  3. Page 169 of Business Nightmares by Rachel Elnaugh

News items

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