Dragons' Den

Dragons' Den returns for its 15th series with two new multi-millionaires entering the fray

Interview with Deborah Meaden

Every year I think I’ve probably seen it all and every year they prove to me there are still plenty of opportunities to go for and that is the life blood of British business.Deborah Meaden
Date: 10.08.2017     Last updated: 10.08.2017 at 08.00
Deborah returns to the Dragons’ Den having been a Dragon since series three.

What’s your favourite thing about being a Dragon?
I love the ingenuity of British entrepreneurs. Every year I think I’ve probably seen it all and every year they prove to me there are still plenty of opportunities to go for and that is the life blood of British business.

How are you getting on with the new Dragons?
The new Dragons are fantastic and they got stuck in straight away. It’s really important that we have five chairs that are working really hard and that is exactly what we have.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs coming on the show?
If you’re looking for investment you’ve got to think about what the investor gets from being involved with your business. A lot of people think about what they’re getting from their point of view but not about what the investor gets out of a deal. Also you need to think about who is the right investor but don’t make your mind up before you come into the Den because you have never met us. It isn’t until you get into the Den that you see who we are and what questions we ask. It’s then that you can make your mind up as to who would be the best investor for you.

How important in your decision is the person pitching or are you solely looking at the business?
I have definitely learnt in business that when you have a smart, engaged entrepreneur with good judgement they can really drive even a mediocre business forward so to me the entrepreneur is very important. Most of all I have to believe them, I have to trust them, I have to think they know their topic really well.

What sort of businesses are you looking for?
I look at a wide range of businesses I do believe that most businesses have the same structure even if they are selling a different widget so as long as it sits within my ethical code I look at a wide range of businesses. I started off in the leisure industry and now I find myself as the DIY queen - I’m not quite sure how that happened! It was simply because I was prepared to move into a sector and find out how that worked and make the connections in that sector. I think that’s the thing a Dragon does well, they understand what they’ve got to do and can see the path, see the map and can make the connections.

Do you have a dream business you would like to invest in?
For me there is never one style of opportunity. It’s not about a business that does one kind of thing. It’s about a magical combination of a good person who understands their products place in the market and has managed themselves into a good position but are also clear as to where I can help. That’s the dream investment for me it isn’t within a particular sector although it’s fair to say before I start filming each series of Dragons’ Den I always spend a bit of time researching and updating myself on the different sectors food, DIY, fashion etc. to see what the latest trends are.

What has been your most memorable pitch?
Probably one of the best pitches for me is the 18-year-old Jordan Daykin who came in and pitched GripIt Fixings. It started off horribly for him because he was demonstrating the world’s strongest plaster board fixing by putting a radiator on a plasterboard wall which Peter promptly pulled off! His pitch could have fallen apart at that point but what was brilliant about that was a young entrepreneur had the good sense to just push on through and explain that it was the damp plasterboard, left out the night before, which caused the problem not the fixing and he is now a multi-millionaire.