Deborah Meaden at Dragons’ Den

Deborah Meaden at Dragons’ Den

Debroah Meaden is a British multimillionaire who began her own business enterprise, a glass and ceramic import company, at the age of 19. Later she was part of selling family holiday packages in the name of Weststar Holidays, which she then sold to more than 1, 50,000 people every year.

Deborah was a sales room model when she began her professional life then in quick succession she climbed business ladder by buying and selling business without grieving about failures. Her persistence and no nonsense approach made her the most eligible candidate as a `dragon’ or judge for money making game show launched by BBC Two. Debroah made her maiden appearance in series 3 of Dragons’ Den.

The Dragons’ Den is a reality television show which features budding entrepreneurs with brilliant innovative ideas, who are in need of investments, to present their cost benefit analysis in three minutes to five dragons. After pitching for their venture, a prospective investee is grilled extensively by the five judges or dragons. The show has now gone into eighth edition and draws a good draw. The audience enjoys the show for two reasons: The show gives an opportunity for talented individuals to convince hardnosed investors who shred a bad idea to pieces. Equally an idea whose time has come may get thumbs up from five dragons. This requires an enormous amount of patience and perseverance on part of contestants to win over the dragons to their idea.

Secondly, five successful multimillionaires who as judge and an investor of their wealth into contestant’s venture show their emotions and debate the value or other wise of presented idea. In short it resembles cock fight exception being here five fight it out with one.

Debroah who joined in third edition was picked up after her successful sale of her family stake in Weststar Holidays to a private equity house. The surrounding publicity made her entry along with other existing four dragons namely, James Caan, Duncan Bannatyne, Theo Paphitis and Peter Jones an interesting news item in business press.

Each of the dragons is a self made multimillionaire. They started their career as ordinarily as the contestants who plead their cases in Dragons’ Den: James was working in a shoebox room; Duncan was a runner who sold ice creams from van; Theo use to sell food inside the school to small children and Peter started his own tennis academy at the age of 16.This makes them sympathetic to the cause of young entrepreneurs who look for money in this realty show.

For Debroah with an instinct of smelling a great business idea, this platform was natural extension of making big money. She says she joined simply because this was worth her time and money. Both of which she values in no small measure.

Her business philosophy is simple, get out of business when it does not work. Don’t hold to something which only accumulates losses. This is to her mind is a great business failure. However even she was in tears to know an inventor-contestant of who wanted to change the concept of no entry board to a safer version on our roads but despite rejected by British highway authorities was not ready to give up the idea and wanted to convince the audience of usefulness of his idea.

Debroah thinks the driving force of the show is this kind of brave, unorthodox and amazing variety of pitchers, who want investment finance and expertise of five dragons. An interesting feature of this programme is either contestant gets all the money he asks for or nothing from one or combination of any five business achievers.

The exciting new business proposals submitted to the five dragons on the show leads to lively debates. Many a times they disagree with each other during the shoot on a given day which lasts from morning to evening in which they listen to six contestants. The idea, business or person must sound interesting for dragons to put in their hard earned money.

The opinionated, strong judges, says Debroah in her blog, argue, fight or sometimes the atmosphere gets so tensed up that they take occasional tea breaks, to get back their sense of humor which makes them judge a contestant in a fair manner.

Dragons’ Den remains highly popular and quality show because of the judges and contestants are always in business mode in the reality television. Deborah herself has invested £1,605,000.00 in 26 separate businesses since 2006.

Once a business proposal finds an acceptance from any one or combination of investors due diligence is conducted. It means Deborah Meaden’s team sends a standard form questionnaire to the prospective investee to provide technical details about their proposal and financial information which makes the proposal viable. Debroah explains this process as – that it’s your own money you’re investing. Due diligence includes visits to the place where the project is working and a detailed on the spot assessment of the entrepreneur before signing on a dotted line.

Debroah Meaden never invests unless she is finally convinced during the due diligence process which covers specific areas of contestant’s business. ‘I fully understand the business and that it is as it was presented in the Den then its full steam ahead and start making Money!’.

In Dragons’ Den, by now Deborah has invested in unusual businesses including magic whiteboard paper, yoodoo dolls and online music mixing to vintage tea parties and digital graffiti walls.

About the returns she has received from the investees, since the time she made her first investment in a young man, Ian Chamings, who had written and patented an algorithm to mix dance music perfectly, Debroah writes in her blog: `We are now the largest providers of mixed dance music to the fitness industry in United States’.

Debroah lists the energy and the real ability of the entrepreneur as the primary qualities what moves her to invest the money. In one instance where investment was on riskier side it was the person’s determination to succeed which made her invest in a recipe sharing website- Mydish- which is today a biggest household name.

Dragons’ Den has many such stories of contestant’s determination, as well as the dragons’ uncanny gift of venturing in where the formal lending institutions have failed.