Dragons’ Den: Deborah Meaden
The longest-serving female dragon, hospitality mogul Meaden has made many successful Den investments – even while waltzing away on another TV show
Dragon from: Series 3 – ongoing, 2006 to present
Number of investments made: 47
Largest sum invested: £100,000
Most successful investment on the show: Grip It Fixings
Who is Deborah Meaden?
An entrepreneur from an early age – she started her first business at just 19 years old – Deborah Meaden has become a millionaire businesswoman on the back of the success of a number of enterprising ventures and clever investments.
Meaden is most well-known for her success in the travel and hospitality market. In 1999, she led a management buy-out for family holiday park business Weststar Holidays and acquired the majority shareholding. She scaled the business to multi-million revenues and sold the company in 2005 in a deal worth £33m while retaining a 23% share. In 2007, she sold her remaining stake for a further £83m.
Since Weststar, Meaden has focused her efforts in the textile and luxury goods markets with the acquisition of West Country textile mill Fox Brothers in 2009, and the launch of her own e-commerce store The Merchant Fox in 2011.
Meaden as a Dragon
The longest-standing female in the Den, Deborah Meaden has shown herself to be a prolific investor; backing over 40 businesses in her 10 years on the show.
Her investment focus seems to vary widely from pet food to teaching equipment. Significant businesses she’s backed include Billy + Margot; specialist in ice cream for dogs, portable whiteboard company Magic Whiteboard, online food community MyDish.co.uk, and photo booth company Zeven Media.
Of all her investment choices, her decision to invest in young entrepreneur Jordan Daykin’s DIY business GripIt Fixings has proved the most fruitful. Daykin – who was just 18 years-old when he appeared on the show and the youngest person to ever secure Dragon-backing – has become one of the series’ biggest success stories.
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Meaden invested £80,000 in exchange for a 25% stake in the plasterboard fixing business and two years on Daykin has gone on to secure listings with over 3,000 stores in the UK, stores in the US, and turns a profit. Daykin claims the business is now worth £14m.
Life outside of the Den
In September 2013, Meaden waltzed (literally) from one BBC show to another when she appeared on the 11th series of dancing reality show Strictly Come Dancing.
Meaden, who was partnered with professional dancer Robin Windsor, appeared on five episodes of the show before she was eliminated in October. According to her scores from Craig Horwood et al, her dancing talent was best placed in the quickstep.
Meaden is also a keen animal lover and advocate of animal rights. She is an ambassador for endangered wildlife charity WWF, a patron and advisor to the Tusk Trust, supports the Dogs Trust, and personally owns 27 animals – including dogs, chickens, horses, ducks and geese.