Simon Woodroffe OBE (born 14 February 1952) is an English motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He started the sushi chain YO! Sushi in 1997, and appeared as a 'Dragon' on the first UK series of Dragons' Den.
After a spell in television, he conceived and launched YO! Sushi in 1997. The business established conveyor belt sushi bars featuring call buttons, robot drinks trolleys, Japanese TV, self heating plates and other such novelties.
Woodroffe was able to launch the business without start-up capital. At the time that his first restaurant opened, despite its popularity, he was unable to obtain financing from banks. Instead, Woodroffe asked his largest supplier for extended terms to pay off his debt.
The company had believed YO! Sushi would be a 'safe bet' because it had the support of Honda, Sony, and All Nippon Airways. In a 2008 interview, Woodroffe revealed that in fact those three companies had provided only very limited sponsorship for the business: some cheap televisions and a motorcycle.
In September 2003, Woodroffe sold his controlling interest in YO! Sushi in a £10m deal, backed by private equity firm Primary Capital. Woodroffe retained a 22% stake and continued working as a business entrepreneur, also taking time to present TV programmes. Primary Capital has since sold YO! Sushi. Woodroffe has sold his remaining stake, but is entitled to a royalty of 1% of gross sales in perpetuity.
In 2008, he launched the YOTEL brand.
Woodroffe received an OBE on 17 June 2006.
- "The Andrew Davidson Interview Im a celebrity get me a deal". The Times (London). 2006-08-13.
- "Yo! History" (WEB). Retrieved 2006-05-14.
- "Business television show: Celebrity entrepreneurs on what it takes to succeed" (VIDEOACCESSDATE=2009-10-06).
- Growing Business Success Stories - Simon Woodroffe
- "Simon Woodroffe, the founder of Yo! Sushi has most of his £1.6m pension in cash". The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
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