Fiona Houston entered the Den in 2015 seeking an investment of £100,000 for three percent of her business, Mara Seaweed. Mara Seaweed turns seaweed into seasonings. It is an alternative to salt.
Fiona aimed to build the company into a £7million export brand with 70 percent of profits coming from exports. They have launched their products in premium retailers such as Harvey Nicoles and Harrods, and have expanded to other retailers such as Marks and Spencer.
Excited by the high valuation, Peter Jones wanted to talk numbers.
Fiona said: “We made £200,000 in the last six months, that’s what we turned over in sales.
“Our revenue for the last 12 months was £200,000 and we haven’t made a profit yet but we’ll break even at the end of this year.”
READ NOW: ‘I just want my money back’ Women frustrated at bank account frozen for 15 months
Peter was confused and asked Fiona what her gross profit was, but she couldn’t answer him. He did not think she knew what the term meant.
In defence Fiona responded: “Of course I know what it is, what is the question.”
Mr Jones asked her again for the meaning of the term, however after giving her explanation, he told her that she was wrong.
He continued: “Gross profit is what you sell a product for and what you buy the product for.
Peter thought the whole thing was “bizarre” and asked her how she was able to raise the money she had with no profits.
“What do you mean how did I raise it?” Fiona said.
In shock Peter said: “Are you really saying that to me? This has probably been one of my worst experiences in the Den. I’m lost for words. I’m out.”
Deborah Meaden continued: “Fiona, did you come in here looking for a fight? Because I have to tell you, your approach is so, for me, completely alienating.
“Peter, I think you’ve been completely patient and helpful and if you’d done that to me, I can’t. You’ve got one chance and you blew it.”
Despite Fiona’s apology Deborah would not reconsider and she “could not invest”.
Nick Jenkins wanted to know about the profitably of the company if Fiona was able to turn it into a £7million export brand.
She said: “Next year we will be making £400,000, the year after £900,000, the year after that is £1.3million, and after that is £2.4million turnover £8million.”
Mr Jenkins told her that is 30 percent net profit.
Sarah Willingham was not convinced. She explained that she eats a lot of seaweed and can get where they are coming from, but “it’s totally irrelevant because you’ve made it so hard for us to invest.”
She said: “You’ve come in and no matter what we ask you, you’re so defensive.
“It’s impossible to invest I’m so sorry.”
Touker Suleyman made the pair an offer. He would give them all of the money but for 50 percent.
However, the pair declined and left the Den.