Who is Dragons’ Den’s Simon Woodroffe OBE?

The YO! Sushi founder was an investor in series one and failed to make any investments. He has since sold his controlling stake in YO! and started a hotel

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Dragon from: Series 1 only, 2005
Number of investments made: 1 (Mycorrhizal Systems) but the deal failed after the show
Largest sum invested: £75,000 but the deal fell through after the show
Most successful investment on the show: N/A

Who is Simon Woodroffe?

Retail entrepreneur Simon Woodroffe is the founder of YO! Sushi; the international sushi franchise which he started out as a single restaurant in London’s Soho back in 1997.

Before selling his controlling issue in YO! Sushi in 2003 in a £10m deal, Woodroffe scaled the chain to become the market leader in sushi restaurants with 12 restaurants, including an outlet in Harvey Nichols and a restaurant in Manchester. Today, YO! Sushi has expanded to the US, Europe and the Middle East, and Woodroffe now receives 1% of the business’ gross sales.

Awarded an OBE in 2006, Woodroffe also works as a motivational speaker and gives speeches at conferences and events around the world.

Woodroffe as a Dragon

In what seemed like a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ performance, Woodroffe only appeared in the first series of Dragons’ Den. He made one investment while on the show; agreeing to fund £75,000 to help Mycorrhizal Systems purchase land for a truffle farm. However, this investment fell through after the show aired.

Speaking to Growingbusiness.co.uk in 2008, Woodroffe said of his decision to leave the Den:

“The trouble with Dragons’ Den and one of the reasons I left, is that the BBC wanted to get crap people on so that I could kick the shit out of them, and I didn’t really want to do that. I think it’s always been about encouraging.

“I always thought we should get better people on and I actually think it would be a better programme long-term because you could then have seen more follow-ups.”

Life after the Den

In 2007, Woodroffe launched the Startups 100-listed YOTEL hotel brand. Inspired by hotels in Japan and with £30m investment, Woodroffe launched the first class cabin-style hotel capsules offering them initially in Gatwick and then in Heathrow. There are now over 1,000 ‘YOTELS’ in three countries with a further 4,000 planned.

Woodroffe has also launched a number of separate arms under the YO! Company group such as YO! Home – a new property venture – and the YO! Foundation; which supports a number of charities.

More recently, Woodroffe worked on an eight-month business mentoring campaign with Volkswagen where he travelled across the UK giving business owners advice. Speaking to us in 2014, Woodroffe said his biggest tip for start-up entrepreneurs was to “do it now, find someone who has done it before and get a mentor”.

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