For as he and his grandfather Stan struggled to put up a curtain rail in a makeshift bedroom in the garage, Jordan had a lightbulb moment which inspired him to create a business which eight years later is worth £10million – and growing.
Jordan realised how hard it is to screw fittings securely into plasterboard walls and, after breaking four drill bits and making an unsuccessful trip to a DIY store for a solution, he realised there was a gap in the market.
Jordan and Stan, a retired engineer, spent days in the shed experimenting with toilet-roll tubes, drawing pins and bits of plastic before coming up with a fitting they called the GripIt.
Today it’s sold in 3,000 UK stores and, with Dragons’ Den investor Deborah Meaden behind him, Jordan – still only 20 – is about to launch GripIt globally.
He’s the youngest entrepreneur to win Dragons’ Den funding – not bad for a boy who left school at 13 with no qualifications and a warning from teachers that he’d never make anything of his life. Yet he remains as unassuming as ever.
“What I love most about everything I’ve achieved so far is seeing grandad’s face light up when I share my latest news,” he told me yesterday, “and the great sense of achievement we get looking out at the shed where it all started.”
Jordan’s story is told in a Dragons’ Den special on Sunday called From Pitches To Riches and in a heart-warming moment grandad Stan, 82, learns for the first time how much Jordan’s company is worth… and bursts into tears before proudly saying: “It’s going to the right guy.”
Growing up in the Wiltshire town of Westbury wasn’t easy for Jordan. His parents split up when he was nine and he lived with his father but when work took him to Sierra Leone Jordan chose to stay with his grandparents.
He was bullied at school and left with no GCSEs – but with a burning ambition. “Because I left school so early I’ve had it driven into me that nothing’s going to be handed to you on a plate, you just have to go out there and get it,” he says.
Jordan’s first venture was a website inspired by an online fantasy game. Next he set up a tutoring agency but it is GripIt that’s making his fortune. In 2012 he got a patent for his design and began supplying the country’s biggest DIY stores.
Four former school-friends sat round his grandparents’ kitchen table to make GripIts and Jordan would go out and sell them. “I couldn’t pay them much but I promised there would always be a job for them,” he says.
Jordan decided to expand and two years ago, aged 19, he applied for Dragons’ Den where he was given a two-hour grilling, edited down to 15 minutes for viewers.
Peter Jones declared himself “out” after he managed to rip Jordan’s radiator prop off its fixings but Deborah Meaden could see the potential and offered him £80,000. Less than two years later her investment is worth over £2.5million and she has put in a further £500,000.
He could have been derailed by a major bust-up with his mother, who reported him to the police when he and his brother took what they said was their property from her house. No action was taken but he and his mother no longer speak.
Jordan’s business philosophy is simple. “It’s important to me to surround myself with people I trust and I believe in giving opportunities to people who I believe can excel,” he says.
“I have hired 11 of my friends, all aged between 17 and 19, who look after various areas of the business. My girlfriend Laura is in charge of sales.”
Now Jordan has six new GripIt products out this year. His secret?
“Working hard. Being young you have more time to get where you need to be. You can start at the bottom and work your way up.”
Other Dragons’ Den success stories include Levi Roots, whose Reggae Reggae barbecue sauce has made him now worth about £30million; the Rapstrap, an alternative to plastic cable ties, won a £36million contract to supply one billion units; and Theo Paphitis and Deborah invested £100,000 in the Magic Whiteboard and later sold back their shares to the husband and wife inventors for £800,000. Sometimes the Dragons miss out.
They turned down Trunki, the suitcase children can sit on, and two million have now been sold. Destination London, a board game featuring taxi drivers visiting tourist spots and avoiding traffic, got a no but is now the biggest-selling game in Hamleys.
And the Itsa, a beach bag that doubles up as a sun lounger cover, was rejected but has achieved over 70,000 sales. As Jordan says: “A no is never a no – it’s only a no at that particular time. You have to persevere.
I don’t know what I’m going to do next – I just want to inspire people. And enjoy myself!” l From Pitches To Riches is on BBC Two, Sunday at 8pm.