Start up Donut regulars might already have read about my business, Rico Mexican Kitchen. A while ago, on this very website, it featured in blogs that charted some of the early challenges I faced as I worked hard to get my new business off the ground.
Some of you might also have seen me on Dragons' Den last week, about 30 minutes in, so I thought I'd tell you a little bit more about my experiences on the show.
Since I launched Rico Mexican Kitchen from my kitchen in Belper, Derbyshire, inspired by a strong desire to offer the genuine flavours of my childhood in Mexico (I was born and brought up in Monterrey), I've been on a hugely exhilarating rollercoaster ride. My appearance on Dragons' Den was part of this ride.
I really wanted to set my pitch apart, so I decided to sing for the Dragons. I asked the Mariachi Mexteca Mexican band to accompany me onto the show. As well as cooking, singing has been an important part of my life (I have a music degree, sang in choirs professionally and conducted many more).
For Dragons' Den, I wrote some lyrics about my passion for Mexican food to the melody of a favourite childhood song called La Bikina. The band and I practised and had loads of fun. We came to an agreement over copyrights with the author, so we were all set to appear on the show.
Two days before filming, the BBC said it wouldn't accept the agreement, which meant we couldn't use the song we knew and loved. The fantastic Mariachi Mexteca made up a new tune to the words I'd written and we practiced our new song for the first time in the changing rooms shortly before going into the Den. Talking about winging it! If you listen carefully you might notice I missed a bit – and I sounded nervous.
I was in the Den for two hours and enjoyed the experience immensely. Ultimately, I didn't attract any investment from the Dragons, which at the time was slightly disappointing, but at least they loved my products.
Despite failing to attract investment (I offered a 20 per cent share of my business for £75,000), last week, a couple of days before the show aired, I was able to secure the investment I need to take my business onto the next level.
A group of Northamptonshire-based investors will provide funding that will help Rico Mexican Kitchen with marketing and PR, product development, brand development and the drive to get my products onto supermarket shelves throughout the UK.
The investors really believe in my products and my commitment not only to making delicious, authentic Mexican food available to UK consumers, but also to supporting growers in Mexico and Britain. It's certainly been a week to remember!
Marcela Flores-Newburn, Rico Mexican Kitchen