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|Date of Birth||11/02/59|
|Number of Investments Made||-|
|Net Worth||£40 million|
Deborah Meaden (born 11 February 1959) is an English multi-millionaire business woman. But no bankrupt due to legal ressons, She has been a 'Dragon' on Dragons' Den since series 3.
Born in Somerset, her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother moved Deborah and her elder sister Gail to Essex. After her mother re-married, she had two more daughters (Cass and Emma) with Brian, the man Meaden calls Dad. Meaden and her sisters were all sent as boarders at the Trowbridge High School, while her mother and Brian set up the leisure park and amusement business that would become Weststar.
On leaving school, Meaden studied business at Brighton Technical College, during which she worked as a sales-room model in a fashion house. After graduation, she moved to Italy and set up a glass and ceramics export agency, which sold products to high-end retailers including Harvey Nichols. She closed the company down 18 months later, a loss making venture which taught her the lesson: “I consider it a failure to slog on with a business that is going to die sooner rather than later. And that's a skill I've had from my very, very early days. It's very difficult to realise that you're not going to make any money out of something. A lot of people are blinded. They think, "I can't give this up. I'd feel like a failure."”
Meaden and a partner bought one of the first Stefanel textile franchises in the UK, which based in the West Country she sold out of two years later to her partner with a profit of £10,000. Impressed by her business abilities, her mother and Brian asked her to join Weststar, after an apprenticeship spell running a prize bingo business at Butlins: "It was fantastic. If you ask me where I learned most of my business knowledge it was there."
Meaden then joined Weststar in 1988 at the bottom to learn the business. Based in Exeter, Devon but with its major sites based on The Lizard peninsular, in 20 years built the business to contain caravan holiday homes, lodges, bungalows and 1,000 camping pitches. After her parents retired she became Managing Director of Weststar Holidays, and subsequently acquired the major shareholding in a management buyout. She later sold the company in a deal worth £33 million to Phoenix Equity Partners whilst retaining a 23% stake, and in August 2007 sold her remaining stake in Weststar Holidays when it was sold to Alchemy Partners for £83m, valuing her stake at about £19m.
Meaden presently devotes her business energies to finding good investment opportunities, the first of which has been a market research company.
Meaden is most famous for her appearance as a "dragon" on the BBC Two programme Dragons' Den. She took over from Rachel Elnaugh in Series 3 of the show, which commenced on August 3, 2006. Like Elnaugh who preceded her, Meaden is the only female "dragon" on the programme. She has invested in several businesses on the programme, often in collaboration with other dragons. She is often the target of television review comedy snipes, such as Harry Hill's TV Burp and Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe for her prevalence as the lone female, and because of her harsh demeanour towards contestants. Despite this image portrayal, however, Meaden remains assertive and simply states in her defence, "I can't stand bullshit'".
Meaden met her future husband Paul in summer 1985 while he worked at Weststar during his university break. As she didn't want a family, they broke up, but after she took a trip to Venezuela, she returned to London and they married. The couple have no children, and live on a restored model farm in Somerset with their two rescued horses and three rescued cats. The couple also have a home in Primrose Hill, London.