Simon Woodroffe

Simon left school at the age of 16 and spent 30 years in the entertainment business. His production companies in London and Los Angeles designed and staged concerts for many artists during the 70′s and 80′s, including The Moody Blues, Madness, Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder and George Michael.

In the 90′s, Simon went into television. He spearheaded the development of television deals to show huge international rock concerts worldwide, including Nelson Mandela concerts, shows for Amnesty International and the Prince’s Trust concerts.

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.

In 1999 Simon won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and became part of the CBI/BCC Ambassador of Entrepreneurism campaign, with which he is still actively involved. 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 appeared on the BBC 2 produced worldwide hit programme Dragons’ Den as one of the formidable panelists, who make and break the dreams of would-be entrepreneurs as they pitch their business ideas for financing. Simon has also featured on Discovery TV’s VIP Weekends with Ian Wright, ITV’s Homes & Property and ITV’s The Millionaire’s Club.

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 cliche 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 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.  YO! Home: Simon’s re-invention of the city apartment launched at London’s 100% Design in 2012 and YO! Zone: a spa concept is bubbling away in the future.