Kelli Aspland, Deborah Meaden and Laura Waters in Cwmbran
(l to r) Kelli Aspland, Deborah Meaden and Laura Waters in Cwmbran

Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden visited Cwmbran last week to visit a business where she owns a ten per cent stake.

Earlier this year entrepreneurs Kelli Aspland and Laura Waters were featured on the BBC1 programmme to pitch Solar Buddies, a product that makes it easy for children to apply sunscreen themselves. It was a business idea they came up with while chatting on the school run outside the town’s St David’s RC Primary School. Ms Meaden and fellow Dragon Peter Jones each agreed to invest £40,000 each for a ten per cent share.

Laura told Cwmbran Life: “I said to her, ‘you can always pop down to Solar Buddies’ and she emailed back to say she was free on Monday 13 November.”

Gareth Waters, Laura’s husband, picked Ms Meaden up from Newport train station and drove her to the Solar Buddies unit on Avondale Industrial Estate.

Laura added: “We showed her around the unit, which she was really impressed with, and met all the staff who also impressed her. We thrashed out ideas for two hours. It was interesting and really insightful. She was very helpful. She’s putting us in touch with lots of different people. It was a really good meeting. She was very down-to-earth and friendly.

Martin Turner, Laura's stepdad and Solar Buddies first investor, meeting Deborah Meaden
Martin Turner, Laura’s stepdad and Solar Buddies first investor, meeting Deborah Meaden

“It was nice to meet and then have lunch. We spent the whole time talking about work, not small talk. I wanted her to meet my stepdad, Martin Turner, because he was the first person to invest in us. She said to him ‘thank you very much for taking the risk’. She’s going to help us get into retail in America, Europe and Australia. There are a lot of plans coming.”

Pure entrepreneurialism

Following the visit, Ms Meaden said: “Kelli and Laura are smart, highly effective and very hard working. They came up with a brilliant idea, took all the right steps to get Solar Buddies produced and into the market and the market love it! That is pure entrepreneurialism and should inspire all those others with great ideas to get on and do it. Peter and I are delighted with our investment and watch this space, with these entrepreneurs you know there is more to come.”