Simon Woodroffe, Yo! Sushi owner, Yotel concept creator, BBC's Dragon Den Entrepreneur, Business Speaker, Motivational Speaker, In 1997, Simon founded YO! Sushi, a conveyor belt sushi bar. The concept was to make eating a complete entertainment experience and featured call buttons, robot drinks trolleys and Japanese TV. The first restaurant opened on London's Poland Street and became an overnight phenomenon. Today it continues to expand both at home and abroad: 45 sites by the end of 2007 in the UK, France, Ireland and the Middle East and forecast turnover of £30m. In 1999 Simon won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and became part of the CBI/BCC Ambassador of Entrepreneurism campaign. 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 2006. The YO! story continues to develop. YOTEL, the world’s most radical hotel opened at Gatwick Airport in Jul 2007 with Heathrow opening in Winter and Schipol early 2008. The public love YOTEL and press has been fantastic: “It's definitely a hip new way to kip” (Sunday Times) Simon continues to develop new YO! brands including YO! Zone: part spa, part café, part bar and part nightclub; and YO! Home: which will provide a futuristic take on the traditional home. As a result of being asked to share the story of his entrepreneurial success, Simon has developed a strong reputation on the UK and international 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. Underlying each speech runs “Simon’s story” - an inspirational tale of changing fortunes in several businesses and this clearly has a powerful effect on his audience, provoking comments such as: “Simon blew me away. His presentation was absolutely FAB. The pace and content were both fascinating and fantastic. He spoke with such passion and honesty that I felt truly inspired.”

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Background

Simon Woodroffe hasn’t done everything yet… but he’s on his way. He has worked with some of the biggest names in rock showbiz, staged one of the biggest music events in the last 20 years, developed a successful concept-restaurant chain and is the proud parent of a teenage daughter and was one of the original Dragons on the BBC hit show Dragons’ Den

It hasn’t been plain sailing all the way, but where he hasn’t succeeded he has gained valuable knowledge. Simon shares his story with many people through his highly successful public speaking career and he actively supports budding entrepreneurs, and is one of 5 entrepreneurs to advise the government on economic policy.

Areas of Expertise

In 1997, Simon founded YO! Sushi, a conveyor belt sushi bar. The concept was to make eating a complete entertainment experience and featured call buttons, robot drinks trolleys and Japanese TV.

The first restaurant opened on London's Poland Street and became an overnight phenomenon. Today it continues to expand both at home and abroad: 45 sites by the end of 2007 in the UK, France, Ireland and the Middle East and forecast turnover of £30m.

In 1999 Simon won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and became part of the CBI/BCC Ambassador of Entrepreneurism campaign. 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 2006.

The YO! story continues to develop. YOTEL, the world’s most radical hotel opened at Gatwick Airport in Jul 2007 with Heathrow opening in Winter and Schipol early 2008. The public love YOTEL and press has been fantastic: “It's definitely a hip new way to kip” (Sunday Times)
Simon continues to develop new YO! brands including YO! Zone: part spa, part café, part bar and part nightclub; and YO! Home: which will provide a futuristic take on the traditional home.

As a result of being asked to share the story of his entrepreneurial success, Simon has developed a strong reputation on the UK and international 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.

Underlying each speech runs “Simon’s story” - an inspirational tale of changing fortunes in several businesses and this clearly has a powerful effect on his audience, provoking comments such as:

“Simon blew me away. His presentation was absolutely FAB. The pace and content were both fascinating and fantastic. He spoke with such passion and honesty that I felt truly inspired.”

Client Comments

Many thanks for your unique, lively, fun and inspiring contribution the CIES Marketing Forum. The overall conference evaluation results look very good.
Sharon Jeske - CIES - The Food Business Forum

What can we say? You inspired us and our people. You made a difference.
Jerry & Mandy Scriven - Amway

Your contribution was really well received and served just the right mix of wake-up call, inspiration and entertainment.
Hannah Skellhorn, Marketing Director - Viacom (Outdoor)

You have definitely opened my mind and I feel like my "Blinkers" have been removed
Ross Barrett Viacom - Outdoor

The whole team really enjoyed your presentation and the dynamism it brought to creativity, not forgetting your final song!
Eliaz Poleg, Managing Director - Sara-Lee Courtaulds

Yo! Sushi is booming, Yo Japan! is setting trends, the book of YO! replaces The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe and YOTEL! is what the public is waiting for.
Varun Sahay - Stuttgart

The penny dropped when I watched your very impressive YO! Sushi story on CNBC on Saturday night.
Stephen Caine

I was impressed, motivated and all those other words that you use when
something or someone excites you enough to put pen to paper
Grant Jones - CNBC Televison Programme

Mega thank you for your appearance yesterday. You were a huge success.
PALs Project Administrator - Learning Links (South) Ltd

Your presentation provoked one of the most energised and interesting discussions of the week
Ian Day, HR Manager - Severn Trent Plc

We thought your spot today at the Manc City Art gallery was fantastic. I think everyone should start their working day with a motivational talk and a bit of a Block Heads rendition.
Lucy Bridle - IAS - Brand Progression

I found your story, and the way you told it, inspiring, real, entertaining and importantly, relevant in attitude to the values of Viacom Outdoor.
Hannah Skellorn - What if presentation

Thank you for a really entertaining and enjoyable presentation. The feedback we have had has been absolutely wonderful.
D Kelly - Business Link Tyne & Wear

Thank you for the amazing speech/stand up routine/stage performance you delivered at the Fujitsu sales conference.
Dan Dawson - Fujitsu

You were the Star of the show.
Dr Hamish Stephenson, Founder - Fast Track 100

Feedback showed that 60% of the audience thought you were the best speaker and when asked to describe the most enjoyable moment of the event many mentioned your song
Lucy Pettman, Marketing and Event Manager - Fast Track 100

I really enjoyed The Book of YO! and I have to say that ‘it’s design and verve live up to what I have read about you in the newspapers
Felix Dennis - Publisher

Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed your speech at the Fastrack awards dinner, not only informative but entertaining. I’ve got the rest of my team working on a company song!
Graham Parsons CES Group

I was seriously impressed with your great attitude to life. The world needs more people who are prepared to stand up and say it as it is.
Denys C. Short, CEO & Chairman - DCS Europe plc

Thanks for a great talk/show yesterday. Much appreciated by all
Fastrack 100 Awards - Richard Branson’s Home

Your presentation at Chicago was one of the best that I have ever seen in 30 years of attending such events. You are truly creative, energetic, and talented. I thoroughly enjoyed both your presentation, and our brief time together
David Campbell Center for Creative Leadership

I read a copy of your book a few months ago and found it hugely motivating
and inspirational.
Serena Humphrey, Managing Director - BPM Business Ltd

It was a pleasure and joy listening to your lecture. The more I listened, the more excited I got.
Sham Sharma - PFS

I enjoyed your talk at the FMI show tremendously. You are going to be a hit in the U.S.
Gene Grabowski - Chicago USA

Thanks for a great speech/performance. We have gotten several calls since our return to DC citing you as one of, if not the best at the Show.
Chad Stark - FMI Show - Chicago

Your candor was refreshing... and I am personally benefiting from the concept you shared about comfort zones ("your comfort zone expands when you go outside it")
Lindsay Hutter - Hill & Knowlton Public Relations USA

Longtime since I’ve heard a speaker as good as Simon Woodroffe - worth coming for him alone
EMP Management Development and Skills Conference

Loved the book! I’m now using it with my people and clients as an example of knock-out story-telling to bring values alive.
Marc Wright

I was unable to put it (the book) down and was genuinely blown away. I could relate to it very much and found it incredibly inspiring and insightful.
Tara Spencer Smith

What was best…the story, it’s parallels and how he tells it. Interesting, entertaining and inspirational. 10 out of 10
Independent Travel Conference - Marbella

What a star! You did it again. Thank you for your energising and brave after-dinner input, on the Thames this time.
HTI Leadership Centre

It was extremely liberating when you appeared…within a month of your chat I had won The New Statesman writing competition and went on to win eight more last year… yes it’s down to me, but I was inspired by your talk
Legal and General - series of 4 speeches

I took away two things from that day you related your experiences - 1. Ignore the voices in your head and act as if you are what you aim to be, and 2. Manage the art of getting people not to say ‘no’
John Griffiths Colby - Griffink

For us it was a novel departure from our normal activities which made its success doubly satisfying…
Arena - The Hospitality Network

I have just finished and read your book and wanted to say thanks. Its short but very sweet
Zia Tendora

..it was a real eye opener..this really made them look at things from another perspective…you were mentioned as one of the highlights time and time again…
Engineering Management - Loughborough University

Your presentation was wonderful, warm and funny and truly an inspiration….I believe you gave everyone an ideal to aim toward…
Institute of Directors - Kent

Our client was completely blown away by your inspirational presentation…not the usual business guru but someone who has reinvented themselves and made a huge success of their lives
MD Stagecraft - Miami

The feedback from the delegates has been phenomenal and you are officially down on their score-card as the ‘best ever’
Aventis Awards Conference - Miami

…we have had some fantastic feedback for attendees already, your singing went down a storm!
Business Link South Yorkshire

I forgot to mention I did buy 379 of your books which we gave out to the delegates - the message spreads!
Barclays Bank Ltd

… thank you for an incredibly inspiring presentation… I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for the way in which you have built the Yo brand. PS Loved the song.
Liza Wooderson, Director - Metro

Simon delivered an outstanding presentation that was exceptionally well received by our audience. Analysis of feedback showed 81% rated him exceptional and 19% as good.
Jennifer Fenwick - Business Objects UK

I wanted to say on behalf of our company what a pleasure it was to work with you.
The Events Organization Company

My colleague and I thought you had a tough act to follow ……. but you went on to steal the show and the song is a cracker.
Anthony Taylor - Addleshaw Booth

I thought that your performance was excellent and really captivated the audience. I loved your song at the end with the Blockheads!
Rebecca Wood, Events Manager - Sweet & Maxwell

One of the students suffers from depression and is very insecure, yet very talented. I think your words hit home with her and she was feeling very positive afterwards. Moreover I was sitting there listening and thinking ‘Boy I do that.... how can I change this’
Maz Raein, Senior Lecturer - St Martins College of Art

The feedback on your breakfast session was exceedingly positive, with lots of people saying how inspiring and motivational they found your presentation. Also everyone loved the song!
Chief Exec - Business Link for London

If I said that your appearance and presentation went down well, I reckon that would be a tragic understatement; rather we all thought that you really were magnificent!
Bob J Silk - Barclays Corporate

…..thank you for your outstanding contribution yesterday…… feedback on your talk was that it was passionate, inspiring and rich in practical insights that people took away with them.
Meenu Bachan, Chief Executive - Inspired Leaders Network

The most inspirational and exciting presentation I have ever attended.
Mari-Cecil Boulle - Boulle International

The delegates really enjoyed both the style of the presentation and the messages which are important in the work that they do. Many wanted to know if you are going to/or have released the YO! song.
Gloria Sayer, Education Adviser - Enterprise Insight

Your presentation was motivational, entertaining - and established a positive and upbeat mood that was maintained for the next two days .
Mike McCann, CEO - National EBP Network

I felt re-motivated and fired up again through listening to you experiences and dogged persistence.
Alan Woolley - Nottingham Business Venture

I forgot to mention I did buy 379 of your books, which we gave out to the delegates at the end of the day - the message spreads!
Barclays Bank Ltd

Our conference analysis survey gave you 4.6 out of a maximum of 5. You were in fact marked the highest of all the speakers
BIBA Conference 2002

At 22, I can only say I haven't heard that many inspirational things in my short life but I will never forget your speech today...you are fantastic...
Kirsty Sweeney - Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire

You won't be surprised that all the members said "does he need money, because we'll back him!"
Modwenna Rees-Mogg - The Supper Club

We have been telephoned by the Mayoress, who said it was the best presentation evening she had ever attended.
Oakham, Rutland

Thanks v much for your session yesterday - feedback from the attendees was excellent, they loved it, especially the song!
Ken Dilley Barclays

Overall evaluation 10 - Articulation of Subject 10 - Co-operation 10 - Audience Reaction 10
Maxine Angel - Sussex Enterprise

Feedback has been excellent, apparently people were talking about your speech throughout the conference.
Nikken at Excel

You've received rave reviews in all the feedback we've had so far not only for your story and your style but for your all out attitude to life!
Impact Training Group

Your talk was exactly what I wanted and perfectly set up the afternoon session where I challenged them as to how and where are we "pioneering".
John Vander, Managing Director - Rabobank Treasury

Your presentations were fantastic. Perfect message, excellent delivery and a refreshing natural style.
Legal and General

Your account of failures as well as successes gave a very realistic and encouraging perspective.
Andrew Ceresto - Blue Chip Associates

You have inspired a lot of people to grab opportunities around them and have the courage to think outside the box.
Neil James - Glaxo Wellcome

'got down to the students level' 'engaging, interesting, relevant, positive, amusing, entertaining, refreshing, spellbinding, fascinating'
Vale of Catmose College

Wow, what an extraordinary, ordinary guy.
Karen Mc Grath - VT Events

Wonderful presentation - motivational, educational and radical.
Andersen Consulting

We were very impressed by your presentation and the rating you got from the delegates was excellent.
Gerhard Hubner - Management Forum.

We had so many comments about how inspirational you were. Those kids will never forget that. It has resulted in commitments to supporting enterprise activities in schools from over 90% of the business people there.
Oonagh Harper - Enterprise Insight

We felt inspired, excited and motivated and that you captured the audience because of your honest, down to earth approach.
Maria & Adam - Swell Interiors

Very good, a real entrepreneur, very enlightening and interesting, good presenter, good case study.
Marketing Week Conference

Very down to earth and inspirational. The Institute of Management thought your presentation was very inspiring and entertaining.
David Man - Royal Bank of Canada

The students found it extremely interesting and I marvelled at how you held their attention for over an hour.
Keith Reeves - King Edward VI School Birmingham

The programme was extremely successful and our participants found it a transformational experience.
Developing Top Management Programme

The feedback was universally favourable - particularly with regard to the entrepreneurial messages….you deliver your message with passion and enthusiasm which is infectious
Gerard Moore - St James’s Place

The feedback has been great and everyone thoroughly enjoyed hearing such an inspirational story
Ruth Findlay, Associate Director - Bank of Scotland

The ceremony was a huge success and feedback indicates that delegates found your speech particularly inspiring.
Inside UK Enterprise Awards

The best speech I have heard in this building in ten years.
David Twiggy Molecy - Institute of Directors

Such honesty and candour is not something one normally associates with successful speakers...
Roy U Moëd - Pourshins PLC

Simon was a major contribution to the success of our event. He was articulate and interesting with no videos or other media.
EDA National Conference Scotland

Simon is an engaging + inspiring speaker, he was just right for our audience.
Sussex Enterprise

Really interesting, fluid, energetic and ‘from the heart.’ Inspirational, yet realistic - excellent.
Paul Barfoot - Barfoot Thompson

Outstanding Talk. Speaker was excellent. Quite outstanding, impressive and stimulating; inspirational - what a guy!
Big Breakfast Edinburgh

Our day was designed to inspire our people to believe that anything is possible. Your timely address certainly hit the mark
Roy Horden, Director Inflight Service - British Airways

Not only was it extremely well delivered and entertaining, I’m sure it was an inspiration to many in the room
John Kemp, Managing Director - Compaq computers

I've been lucky to hear you twice and it's been a real inspiration. Keep wearing those shoes
Pamela Ford - Enterprise Magazine

It was an entertaining and inspiring speech and more importantly, we were impressed by the sorts of messages you were putting across.
Touchstone SunSystems

it was a filthy night - says something for your pulling power that we had such a low attrition rate on the night.
Maggie Winfield - Business Champions - East Midlands

It is difficult to be businesslike and add humor but you pulled it off.
Nairobi Coffee & Tea Company

I now understand how a reputation for public speaking such as yours is earned.
Mark Warburton - Hills Electric PLC

I have just arrived back in the UK from the program last week, and I have to say Simon was fantastic.
Sony Top People program - The Swiss Alps

I can safely say that in all the years we have had guest speakers, yours was by far the best received
Matthew Wood - Lease & Loan Insurance Services

I came in feeling tired. I went out thinking about the future.
Business Link - Worcester

I am writing to let you know how inspirational and informative I found your presentation ICSE European Conference.
Jeffrey H Newman - Sills & Co USA

I am sure you have experienced the great appreciation of participants at the end of your speech when so many of them came to congratulate and talk with you.
Anna Alu - Esomar Market Research Conference Barcelona

His inspired, passionate speech literally gave me chills down my back.
Alison Beaver - Branding America - Los Angeles

High rating - unscripted from the heart - very powerful
Caradon Trend

He was inspirational, absolutely brilliant. I'm still buzzing from the encouragement and extra enthusiasm his talk has provided me with.
Francis Lopez - Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire

Great approach - good mix of people stuff and business stuff
Merrill Lynch

First class in every respect. Informative, thought provoking and amusing - inspiring in certain aspects.
Phillip Newfield - Acumen Entertainment

Feedback sheets have shown that people were almost unanimous in their appreciation of your presentation.
Burgess - Touchstone SunSystems

Extremely interesting liked the personal approach.
CIPFA

Excellent, laid back, informal, yet professional.
Glass & Glazing Federation

Delegates appreciated how you focussed on real business issues that they could connect with.
Greg Small - Business Link NW London

Both I and my YPO colleagues enjoyed your fascinating speech very much.
Richard Grecco - Young Presidents Org

A truly inspirational start to our conference
Susie Gray, Vice-President - Nacore UK

A truly inspirational and mind blowing presentation.
Joel Sapiro - PSMG National Conference

A huge thank you for your talk. It was highly inspirational and exceptionally well received from discussions afterwards.
Peter Morrison - Sainsburys

A big thank you for two wonderful presentations and a great inspiration to all our team.
Jean-Paul Barat, General Manager - Selfridges

A joy to listen to
Make it Happen - Haydock Park Racecourse

…your speech, it was the best and second to none, and in my opinion should have benefited every retailer who was present…
Adam Ibrahim - Burjuman Centre Dubai

…the first time I had seen your ‘how I got here’ speech. Made me want to get up and kick the arse of the world
Chris Arnold - Feel Agency

…A marvelously inspiring talk, I was fascinated.
Allan Alstead, Chairman - Aid International

Homesale Network Conference

..after listening to you talk to us at the Manchester Business School, I wanted to go to my office there and then and get started.
Sue Pyatt - Penna

Your passion, focus and humour made for an outstanding evening
Professor John Arnold - Manchester Business School

THANKS for bringing such energy and vibrancy to the debate…..
Caroline Dyer - Institute of Directors

Simon’s ability to turn a risky catering concept into one of the most exciting and creative ventures ever seen in the UK was an object lesson in risk management. His instinct for the power of branding underpinned every extension of the original concept. The YO! brand will surely rival that of Virgin in a few years.
BIBA, Manchester Convention Centre

Inspirational - tremendous example of risk taking, strategy & tactics
Robin Ryde - The Cabinet Office

Great Performance last night and much appreciated. - Enterprise Awards
Ben Laurance, Editor - Financial Mail

The whole team really enjoyed your session - especially the finale! We would love to talk to you further about your ideas and challenges around in-store experiences - I can't stop thinking about robots!
Maurice Helfgott, Executive Director of Foods - Marks & Spencer

Thank-you for your outstanding presentation. It was fun talking to you over dinner and even more interesting listening to your story including the rock performance at the end
Peter Webster - Royal Sun & Alliance

Simon has a passion for innovation and delivered his key messages in a humorous and personal way
Diageo / McKinney Rogers - Innovation Conference

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