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I'm still amazed, horrified, and moved by the pitches in Dragons' Den

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Deborah Meaden Deborah Meaden | 11:01 UK time, Friday, 30 July 2010

I can't believe I am in my sixth series of Dragons' Den. After many hours, days, weeks of sitting in a darkened Den and listening to countless pitches ranging from the brilliant to the frankly absurd, it still amazes me to see how relevant and refreshing the programme remains.

Fellow Dragons Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne have been there from the beginning. Each year all of us wonder if people will still want to watch us and each year, thanks in a very great part to the amazing, brave and innovative entrepreneurs who come and pitch to us, it seems you do.

Kirsty Henshaw from Worthenshaws in the Dragons' Den

In case you were wondering, Dragons have feelings too. We cringe, we laugh, we cry, we fail, we triumph, and emotions run the full gamut.

Watching Kirsty Henshaw, a 24-year-old single mum deliver a superb pitch for Worthenshaws "not ice-cream" - a frozen dairy-free dessert - telling us her motivation to succeed was her four-year-old son and the desire to give him a better life was a real lump in the throat moment.

On the other hand please tell me you were as horrified as I was when Derek Cozens tried to convince us that he had a safer version of the No Entry sign which, despite being told categorically by the Highways Authorities they did not like, he was going to pursue.

It's not often I beg but I could see his life, not to mention money, just being poured into a big black hole and I pleaded with him to stop. Am I right? Should he stop? I doubt he will.

The great thing about Dragons' Den is that it sparks debate. Everyone I ask has an opinion on something they saw in the Den and I bet you do too. You will also like and dislike some of the entrepreneurs and some of us Dragons and our styles of doing business and you will agree and disagree with our decisions at times.

In fairness Dragons rarely agree with other Dragons, but that is generally sorted out in the playground afterwards and doesn't last long.

So, who IS the best Dragon? We are a competitive bunch but there is a definite sense of mutual respect and a lot of humour, most of which I couldn't possibly repeat here!

We have our own busy lives but when we can we make time for dinner, although last time we did that we played spoof for the bill. It's a guessing game where one player holds a number of coins in a closed hand and everyone has to guess the value of the coins. It changes every time and bearing in mind I had never played it before - guess who ended up paying!

But when all is said and done we are in the Den for business. Serious business. I have offered around £1.3m over 21 investments in my first five series of Dragons' Den with many more to come in this series. I have some real winners, usually because the investees have lived up to their promise.

The Dragons in the Den. From left to right: James Caan, Duncan Bannatyne, Theo Paphitis, Deborah Meaden, and Peter Jones

My very first investment was from my neck of the woods, in the West Country. A young man, Ian Chamings, had written and patented an algorithm to mix dance music perfectly.

We are now the largest providers of mixed dance music to the fitness industry in the United States and FitMixPro just launched in the UK. I can't pick a favourite investment but there is always something special about your first!

The £100k I invested in MyDish, a recipe-sharing website, was definitely at the riskier side but I saw in Carol Savage someone with huge energy and real ability and it was her that won the investment. MyDish now powers the recipe websites of some of the biggest household names in media and major supermarkets.

Neil and Laura Westwood from Magic Whiteboard now have magic blackout blind and magic blackboard with more products and substantial profits in the pipeline. All have one thing in common and that is seriously good people driving a well-conceived business proposition.

This Dragons' Den series will see the highest number of investments ever made in the Den. This may seem surprising in the current economic times but I can see why. More people are thinking about doing it for themselves than ever before and they are finding it more difficult than ever to get funding.

Never has the Den been more relevant, not just for those braving it but for those wanting to gather some inside information on how investors think, what they are looking for and tips on what really works from people who have learned through experience what it takes to make a business work.

Deborah Meaden is one of the five Dragons from Dragons' Den.

Dragons' Den is currently on BBC Two on Mondays at 9pm. To find out when the next episode is on please visit the upcoming episodes page.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of the universe is how some administrative clerk, typified by Deborah Meaden, could get a job within Dragons Den - she doesn't come across as someone that awfully competent at anything involving business, and to burden her with the responsibility to assess business ideas from entreoreneurs is an ambitious proposition for someone else with even the minimal competence necessary. Sadly, she doesn't meet the grade, and is on a par with Mr Alan Sugar.

  • Comment number 2.

    I bet you would swap your bank balance!

  • Comment number 3.

    I always watch this series - it's fascinating. I just wish we had more feedback at the end to see how the successful ones did, or if the unsuccessful bidders carried on and succeeded.
    I am so glad that in this latest series that irritating background music has been diminished - I used to turn the sound off.
    And what a waste of Evan Davies's talents! He is brilliant at summarising complex business/political events, but here he says nothing that isnt obvious. Fast forward please.

  • Comment number 4.

    "administrative clerk, typified by Deborah Meaden" is Jewel Staite having a laugh when they wrote that or is it merely spiteful middle england venting it's jealousy? Ok she's not as wealthy as the others on the panel but I'd have her bank account any day!!

    I have watched the show from the beginning but this new series has descended into the x-factor for daft business ideas and it seems to be about the Dragons shouting or laughing at people. Some of the people pitching should not have been allowed on the show such as the motorised clothes drier and the four poster bed rental!!!

    It's time to put it to bed and to be honest i'm fed up of the Dragons just as i'm tired of seeing SAS, as both formats are now tired.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Deborah,

    I disagree with iGlad. The story of the motorised clothes dryer was quite touching. One man's dream inspired by his late wife. I also like to see the businesses that haven't a hope in hell of getting off the ground. Some of these people need a serious reality check.

    Btw, I've always wanted to start a wedding photography business but need about £20k to buy some decent camera gear. Any chance? ;)

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting to get a bit of insight Deborah, looking forward to the rest of the series and hopefully many more to come!

    P.S. Is Peter really as smug as he comes across?

  • Comment number 7.

    This series is better than ever. It just shows how mad some people are and the fact that the Dragons tell them some hard truths is just what they need. They say love is blind and a passion for your invention is the same therefore you have to treat each individuals appropriately . Not everyone will respond well to Duncan yelling at them!

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm not sure if its a change in policy but people seem to be told the reality of the sitaution in a much more direct way, as it should be. Deborah can equal any of the other Dragons in this way. She says it as direct as she can without making them cry. I work in the IT field and I meet people who are developing this or that in their bedrooms after work, they waste a lot of time and money and they could all do with a good talking to. Lets hope they watch these programs and have a good think.

  • Comment number 9.

    Its a all right show in a weak summer line up

  • Comment number 10.

    Jewel Staite you are very ignorant....deborah meaden is actually worth more than Alan Sugar - hardly an Administrator!

  • Comment number 11.

    i love Deborah!!! xD

  • Comment number 12.

    To Zorro6666: Rather hypocritical of yourself to accuse Jewel Staite of ignorance when you yourself clearly are wrong in your statement. If you'd taken the time to even google both Mrs Meaden and Lord Sugar, you would have found that Mrs Meadens net worth is around £40 million whereas Lord Sugars is closer to £850 million.

    Also to Jewel Staite, your obvious personal grudge against Mrs Meaden aside, the day I see some 'administrative clerk' invest £1.3 million (a figure even a premiership footballer wouldn't scoff at) in a string of highly successful ventures as Deborah Meaden has, I'll eat my hat

  • Comment number 13.

    My enjoyment of 'Dragons Den' is spoiled by the repetitious commentary of Evan Davies! He introduces the programme with the rules, after a pitch is made he repeats it, and after the result, tells us the verdict.
    I am afraid that I have to record the programme and then watch it when I can exclude his remarks. Why is it felt necessary to treat us as though we need everything repeated in this way?

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    Im just wondering why none of the dragon questioned the sucessful meeting with the M.O.D. that the couple looking for investment for the survivorjack said they had. To me that that would have been worth looking into or am I missing something??????

  • Comment number 16.

    I am puzzled as to why the dragons always wear the same ties, suits and jewellery. Is it all filmed on the same day?

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    As far as I understand the situation in the UK is such that while a means of using an algorithm can be patented, an algorithm itself cannot be patented. Also, as far as I understand it, programs for computers are not inventions and therefore cannot be patented. Instead, copyright protects code and confidentiality agreements protect source code.

 

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