Simon Woodroffe OBE is the creator of YO! Sushi and was an original "Dragon" in the premiere series of BBC’s 'Dragons’ Den'. His early career was spent on the road with the likes of Rod Stewart and The Moody Blues, before becoming a stage designer. Simon is an exceptionally entertaining and leading business/ motivational speaker.
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Simon left school at the age of 16 and spent 30 years in the entertainment business designing and staging concerts for many artists including The Moody Blues, Madness, Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder and George Michael. In the 90's, Simon went into television spearheading the development of television deals to show huge international rock concerts worldwide, including Nelson Mandela and Amnesty International concerts and the Prince's Trust concerts. In 1997, Simon founded 'YO! Sushi', a conveyor belt sushi bar. The concept turned eating into a complete entertainment experience featuring call buttons, robot drinks trolleys and Japanese TV. The first restaurant opened on London's Poland Street and became an overnight phenomenon. Today, YO! Sushi continues to expand both at home and abroad operating in 70 countries and serving over 5 million customers each year.
In 1999 Simon won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2001 he was awarded the accolade of Best Venue at the Retailer of the Year Awards. In recognition for his contribution to hospitality, Simon was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list 2006. Simon was an original “Dragon” on BBC 2’s worldwide hit programme 'Dragons' Den' making (and breaking) the dreams of would-be entrepreneurs pitching business ideas for financing. Simon has also featured on numerous television shows including: Discovery TV's 'VIP Weekends' with Ian Wright, ITV's 'Homes Property' and ITV's 'The Millionaire's Club.' As a result of his entrepreneurial success, Simon has developed a strong reputation on the worldwide public speaking circuit. Simon speaks openly avoiding business cliché and audiences find his story extremely inspiring and a catalyst for their own endeavours, be they in a large corporate setting or working at a start-up level.
Simon Woodroffe OBE continues to develop new YO! brands. YOTEL, Simon’s solution to boring and expensive hotels opened in 2007 and in Summer 2011 celebrated the launch of a 669 bedroom site in central New York. A 600 room YOTEL opens in Singapore in 2018. YO! Home: Simon’s re-invention of the city apartment launched at London’s 100% Design in 2012 and the first development is likely to launch in Manchester during 2015. YO! Zone: a spa concept is bubbling away in the future.
Simon does not give a 'traditional speech', he works in an interactive way and the response from our clients is enormously positive:
"Simon W was like being in the presence of a Laurence Olivier or some grand master and a few of his thoughts really resonated specially the one about being obsessed and taking a moment at a day like yesterday to reflect and think back on what was it that drove your goals as a teenager. He also seemed to transmit some kind of courage in the air that I have picked up."
Simon’s own story of starting YO! Sushi and YOTEL threads through his presentation and he speaks simply and openly about his journey of enterprise and innovation. Simon always has a briefing call with the client in advance to ensure he delivers exactly what they require