Rob Manley, 24, who grew up in Brackley, believed in his “magic” product and so did Dragons’ Den investor Deborah Meaden.
Appearing on the hit BBC show, Rob explained how it all began in his mum’s kitchen when he experimented with chemicals and stumbled on a unique glow ink.
He then combined the ink with a T-shirt to create an interactive outfit which you can draw on with a torch. Illuminated Apparel was born.
Rob, who left Magdalen College School at 16, said: “I had some really tough times. I was working seven day weeks, around the clock, which meant I was pretty much sleeping rough, on my office floor.
“But it was because I felt so passionately about the magic of the product and how far it could go.”
Rob quit his job as an estate agent in 2014 and began to build his business. But with minimal interest and dwindling funds, Rob resorted to living from his London office.
He stuck it out because he believed in the product and by 2015, Illuminated Apparel had appeared on The Gadget Show. Rob’s T-shirts sold out on website Not On The High Street before Christmas.
But it was his back story and determination which saw Meaden pump her fists as Rob accepted her £50,000 investment offer for a 20 per cent stake in the business.
Check out the range here.