Zena won investment in the den – but not without a fight (Picture: BBC)
Dragons’ Den made a welcome return to our screens on Monday night, and the first episode kicked things off with a fiery showdown between Peter Jones and ambitious entrepreneur Zena El Farra.
Former banker Zena stepped into the Den, having left a well paid city job behind to launch MasterPeace – a business specialising in ‘mindful painting experiences’.
Zena was looking for a £50,000 investment for a 15% stake in her business, which aims to help its customers unwind through painting with a series of interactive products.
While she ended up finding success by securing an investment from Deborah Meaden, things initially took a turn for the worse after the dragons took issue with Zena’s pitch.
The first to turn was crafts expert Sara Davies, who took issue with Zena’s subscription-based business after hearing her pitch and called it a ‘complete non-starter’ in a devastating takedown.
The biggest blow, though, came during Peter’s appraisal when he took issue with her business model and gave her a lashing over her ‘wooly’ figures.
Peter took issue with Zena’s business plan (Picture: BBC Studios/Andrew Farrington)
Zena stuck to her guns on the programme (Picture: MasterPeace)
In awkward scenes, Peter told Zena that while she had produced a ‘brilliant pitch’, her numbers didn’t add up. He urged her to head ‘back to the drawing board’ and accuse her of ‘playing a victim’ over the misinformation – something she went on to deny.
‘I’m dreadfully disappointed,’ Peter said. ‘At the start, the pitch was absolutely brilliant. Where it went over the course of the pitch, I just was not engaged with the words.
‘I don’t think there’s a successful investment for a business at this stage,’ he added, before declaring himself out.
After she secured her investment from Deborah, Peter said he ‘hadn’t seen it coming’, having totally dismissed the pitch.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk about her time in the den and the fallout with Peter, Zena said: ‘It’s a real shame because I adore Peter as an investor in the den. I’ve watched him on the show since I was very little, so I would have absolutely loved for him to see the good in MasterPeace and to be interested.’
The new series of the BBC programme kicked off on Monday (Picture: BBC)
Zena added: ‘But you can’t guess sometimes. You could just say one wrong thing, and give somebody who doesn’t know you the wrong idea.’
She conceded: ‘I did think it was a bit of a stretch for [Peter] to take the interest in MasterPeace. It wouldn’t have been a typical sort of investment for him. Obviously, he reaches far and wide, but I didn’t quite expect for it to go as far south as quickly as it did.
‘I do think some of it was lost in translation and I do wish I’d said things a bit differently to explain myself a bit better.’
The biggest point of criticism from Peter surrounded the price point of the art packages sent out to customers. While the all round product they receive is ‘a masterclass with a professional artist’ via an app, the dragons only saw the physical art materials themselves during the pitch.
Taking issue with the kits, Peter said that they should only cost a few pounds, rather than the £25 which the package retails for.
Deborah was won over by Zara’s business pitch (Pitch: BBC)
Zena spoke about the pricing after her appearance on the show, she said: ‘What’s really important to know with what we offer, and how it’s different from say a paint by numbers kit that you can probably get for a few quid, is what we’re delivering a masterclass with a professional artist in our app.
‘It’s a video tutorial. It’s about 45 minutes plus long and these are really young contemporary up and coming, vibrant artists giving you that inside scoop.’
The pitch won over Deborah Meaden in the first episode of the new series (Picture: BBC)
Thankfully for Zena, Deborah was won over by Zena and offered her the money she was looking for in exchange for 25% of the business.
‘I thought it was a really fair and generous deal,’ Zena said about working with the dragon. ‘It would have been insulting to her to ask anything different.’
‘For me, the more important thing out of the investment was knowing that the investor saw the value in what we were doing and understood us, and she did in buckets. So I’d have probably given her more.’
‘We’re very, very happy with the outcome,’ Zena said. ‘It was the outcome we hoped for when we went onto the den in terms of securing Deborah’s investments.’
Dragons’ Den airs on Wednesday at 8pm on BBC One.