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.
Woodroffe appeared on the first series of Dragons' Den. However, after only one series of the programme, he left the panel. Woodroffe stated that the reason behind his departure was: "The show became a battle of egos — not a forum for business innovation. The thing to remember was that when you walk up the stairs to pitch, it’s not five people necessarily thinking, 'How am I going to be able to make an investment here?', they’re also thinking, 'Am I going to be the star of this next little piece?'. That's not how I was told the show would go down."
- "The Andrew Davidson Interview Im a celebrity get me a deal". The Times. London. 2006-08-13.
- "Yo! History". Archived from the original on 2006-05-12. Retrieved 2006-05-14.
- "Business television show: Celebrity entrepreneurs on what it takes to succeed". Archived from the original (Videoaccessdate=2009-10-06) on September 29, 2009.
- Growing Business Success Stories - Simon Woodroffe Archived December 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Simon Woodroffe, the founder of Yo! Sushi has most of his £1.6m pension in cash". The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- Zoe Brennan (2011-02-08). "Den of dashed dreams: How the Dragons don't always keep their word when the cameras stop rolling | Mail Online". London: Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
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