Meet the Dragons joining Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones in the new series...


Sarah Willingham

Age: 41

Day job: Creator of restaurant chain the Bombay Bicycle Club and co-founder of the London Cocktail Club

Family: She has four children with husband/ business partner Michael Toxvaerd

Education: Newcastle High School, an independent school in Newcastle-under-Lyme, followed by degrees at Oxford Brookes and La Rochelle Business School, and an MBA at Cranfield

How much are you worth? "I’m not telling you. I think it’s vulgar to discuss actual figures. Enough to be free to make the decisions to control my life."

How did you get to where you are today? "I’ve always worked very hard, and I love it. I’ve never deviated from the need to be a mum and to work, and because of that I’ve had a real drive to do what I love doing, but to do it as efficiently as possible."

Best business success? "The Bombay Bicycle Club. I loved that business. I started out with the goal of creating the largest chain of Indian restaurants. I managed that, sold it and made a large profit." [She led a consortium that bought Bombay Bicycle Club in 2004. She added 11 restaurants to its original six, making it the largest Indian restaurant chain in the UK, before selling it in 2008 for £4.4m.]

Worst business failure? "I wonder whether I sold Bombay way too soon. I could have opened another 50. But it would have been a real compromise at home, one I wasn’t willing to take. My website, is profitable but it’s been a slog and taken longer than I wanted."

What kind of business are you looking to invest in? "Before we started filming, I had a clear view. But now we’ve started, there really isn’t a particular kind."

What kind of person are you looking for? "People who are straight. I can’t do disrespect, rudeness or indifference. How much money are you looking to spend? I never put a finite number on it. Some people might want more cash, and less time, some the opposite. I’ve got four young kids, so sometimes I’d rather spend more money and less time. I have to weigh it up."

PETER JONES’S VERDICT: "She’s got a broad understanding of business, going from restaurants to retail. She just says it how it is."


DEBORAH MEADEN’S VERDICT: "She’s got the consumer touch. She thinks like the customer."