Simon Woodroffe

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Woodroffe in 2012

Simon Woodroffe OBE (born 14 February 1952[1]) is an English motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He started the sushi chain YO! Sushi in 1997,[2] and appeared as a 'Dragon' on the first UK series of Dragons' Den.

Woodroffe left Marlborough College towards the end of the 1960s, at the age of 16, with 2 O-levels.

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[3]

In September 2003, Woodroffe sold his controlling interest in YO! Sushi in a £10m deal, backed by private equity firm Primary Capital.[4] 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.[5]

He currently speaks around the world at corporate and promotional events, and has appeared on stage at the Edinburgh Festival to discuss his YO! ventures including YO! Company.[citation needed]

In 2008, he launched the YOTEL brand.

Woodroffe received an OBE on 17 June 2006.