Cowplain mum and daughter take on dragons in bid for investment

HEN DO Pat Gruchy and Louise Villalon at home with their hens Hilary and Deborah, and, inset,  on Dragons' Den. Picture: Sarah Standing (122982-5553)
HEN DO Pat Gruchy and Louise Villalon at home with their hens Hilary and Deborah, and, inset, on Dragons' Den. Picture: Sarah Standing (122982-5553)
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PITTING chickens against dragons sounds like a bit of an unfair fight.

But two Cowplain entrepreneurs behind a poultry supplier held their own against the stars of Dragons’ Den.

HEN DO Pat Gruchy and Louise Villalon on Dragons' Den.

HEN DO Pat Gruchy and Louise Villalon on Dragons' Den.

Louise Villalon and her mum Pat Gruchy went on the show to get investment for their business.

They supply chickens and coops to people who want to give the creatures a home in their gardens.

And although they were unsuccessful in their bid for investment, they came away smiling.

Louise, 30, of Hitherwood Close in Cowplain, said: ‘The nerves I felt were worse than any rollercoaster ride I have ever been on.

‘They all look at you when you walk in, and although we were smiling as we came in they were just deadpan.

‘But they were lovely afterwards and said thanks for coming on. They were alright, really.’

Louise applied to appear on the BBC show and they were then invited to film with the dragons.

The programme aired on BBC2 on Sunday.

Louise and Pat pitched their business model to the dragons – with the help of two chickens named Deborah and Hilary.

The bird-based pitch provoked smiles among millionaires Deborah Meaden and Hilary Devey.

But ultimately the dragons decided not to invest.

Mrs Meaden told them: ‘This market has been pretty much saturated – so I’m out.’

Louise and her mum Pat teamed up three years ago to start their business, which is run from home.

They deliver chickens and coops to homes all across the south and hope to one day expand to cover the north of the country.

Louise added: ‘Working with my mum is great.

‘We get on well and we work together very well.

‘It means we can share ideas with each other and not worry about what the other person thinks.’

Last year, they sold 600 chickens. Now they are looking to expand the space they have to work in and store the chicken coops.

They also run a ‘hen hotel’ which looks after the chickens when their owners go on holiday.

Pat, 60, said: ‘For me it was quite nerve-wracking but my daughter was more relaxed and did really well.

‘We didn’t get any funding but that was okay because it was an experience.’