Simon is a British motivational speaker and hugely successful entrepreneur. 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. He has also launched the YOtel brand.
Simon Woodroffe OBE left Marlborough College towards the end of the 1960s, at the age of 16, with 2 O-levels. He went on the road with the likes of Rod Stewart and The Moody Blues before becoming a stage designer.
In the 90s, 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.
In 1999 Simon won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
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! Sushiand Woodroffe no longer owns a stake in the company.
In recognition for his contribution to hospitality, Simon was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2006.
As well as being an original dragon on BBC 2’s worldwide hit programme Dragons’ Den, 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. He even appeared on stage at the Edinburgh Festival to discuss his YO! ventures including YO! Company.