Deborah Meaden is reported to have a net worth of £40 million partly thanks to her Dragons’ Den investments.
Born on February 11, 1959, in Taunton, Somerset, Deborah Meaden was raised by single mother Sonia, who later remarried and then went on to own Weststar, a holiday park, with husband Brian Meaden. Her independent attitude formed the base for her daughter’s own work ethic.
As a child, Meaden displayed prodigious business acumen by setting up a flower stand in a neighbour’s drive. A horse lover, Meaden once slogged through summer jobs at the age of 11 to buy a pony. At 16, she attended Brighton Technical College to study business.
Soon, she went off to Italy to export glass and ceramics to famous retailers such as Harvey Nichols, but her products were also being sold by others. Not prepared for a legal battle, Meaden relinquished the business. Unfazed, she fuelled further ventures that included a franchise for Italian fabric firm Stefanel which, according to reports, she sold two years later for £10,000.
In 1988, her family amusement arcade business in Devon beckoned, where she became Operations Director. She shifted to the holiday park side of Weststar, profitably developing the caravan park operations and became Managing Director within two years. She bought out the management, holding onto most of the company shares in 1999. In 2005, she sold Weststar for a reported £33 million to Phoenix Equity Partners, holding onto a 23 per cent stake that was sold off in 2007, in a deal worth an alleged £83 million.
The leisure magnate bought a historic West Country textile mill, Fox Brothers, in 2009 and went on to establish The Merchant Fox,an online British luxury goods retailer, in 2011.
In 2013, she managed to shake a leg for BBC One’s hit show Strictly Come Dancing. Since joining the panel of BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den, a show for would-be entrepreneurs, in 2006, the magnetic Meaden has invested more than £2 million in 33 ventures – according to her website. According to recent reports, Meaden’s net worth currently stands at £40 million.
In her 2010 book, Common Sense Rules, Meaden gives sincere advice based on her vast experience, while revealing her own secrets to success.
Meaden’s first Dragons’ Den investment was backing Ian Chamings, an entrepreneur who had patented an algorithm that faultlessly mixed dance music. It turned out to be a resounding hit in the US fitness industry.
The savvy businesswoman keenly espouses various charities, such as equine welfare organisation Brooke. She is an ambassador for WWF, Hoof and champions Friends of the Earth’s Clean British Energy campaign.
Meaden and her spouse Paul share their ten bedroom listed property in Somerset with dogs, cats, horses, geese, ducks and chickens. She also owns a pied-à-terre in Primrose Hill.