From Battling Depression to Building a Million Dollar Empire: Dragons’ Den Investor Simon Woodroffe’s Inspirational Story

Simon Woodroffe

Dragons’ Den investor Simon Woodroffe is a retail entrepreneur, motivational speaker and Television Personality. He is famous for appearing in the first series of the Dragons’ Den. While being on the show, he invested the highest amount of £75K in Mycorrhizal Systems. Although, this funding fell through after the telecast of the show.

Dragons’ Den Investor Simon Woodroffe’s Net Worth

According to, the entrepreneur’s net worth was estimated to be £194m in 2021. Additionally, Simon earns mostly from royalties, a restaurant chain and motivational speeches. Financially, Woodroffe follows the ‘if you create it, users will come’ attitude to build a business.

Simon is famous for establishing and owning YO! Company– a British holding company that introduced several subsidiaries. Moreover, YO! Sushi is the most famous and successful business in the YO! Company group.

The subsidiary companies that are held by YO! Company include::

  • YO! Sushi – a group of sushi restaurants
  • YOTEL – a group of luxurious capsule hotels in several cities and airports
  • YO! Home – spacious modern style city-centre homes
  • YO! Japan – a clothing brand that sells Japanese attire
  • YO! Zone – spa and health club
  • RadiYO! – a series of radio programmes about business and entrepreneurship.
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Dragons’ Den Investor Simon Woodroffe’s Early Life

Dragons’ Den investor Simon Woodroffe was awarded an OBE on 17 June 2006 for his significant achievements and contribution to the nation. He was ambitious since childhood and aimed to become a millionaire by the age of 20. He left the school at 16 and started working as a Roadie in the early 1970s. Moreover, the entrepreneur’s early experience at Royal Court and Richmond Theatre helped him in building contacts and designing stages for several great music tours of the 70s. Interestingly, Woodroffe got his first big break when he designed a huge white stage for one of the best-selling music artists, Rod Stewart.

Simon spent his twenties and early thirties designing stages and learning how entrepreneurs run their businesses and deal with challenging situations. In 1985, the entrepreneur left the stage designing business. Subsequently, he started selling Television rights for live pop and rock concerts. He continued the business till the early 1990s and left the fast-paced life to spend some time in the French Alps.

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Simon Woodroffe’s Journey to Becoming a Millionaire

At the age of 40, Simon felt he was down on his knees. The entrepreneur was struggling financially, recently divorced, losing all his confidence, and battling depression. However, survival inspired him to create a successful, long-term business. Thus, with the help of his experiences and learnings, he established Yo! Sushi in 1997. Although his early goal was only to survive, the business soon created millions of dollars with the help of sushi restaurants.

YO! Sushi is a business that owns, runs, and franchises a total of 100 Sushi restaurants in Russia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Ireland. Additionally, the business has its restaurant chain in Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain as well. Moreover, Yo! Sushi designed unique conveyor belt sushi restaurants that included robot drinks trolleys, call buttons, self-heating plates, Japanese TV, and other creative features.

Woodroffe kept on expanding the business by opening branches of the restaurant in different regions. The Japanese restaurants not only helped him in gaining financial stability and popularity but also increased the entrepreneur’s goodwill. In September 2003, Simon sold his ownership rights in YO! Sushi in against £10 million.

However, he kept a 22% stake in the company and continued working as a businessman who also presented Television programmes. In the same year, Simon introduced YOTEL, a hotel brand that provides guests with extraordinary stay experiences. Additionally, in 2008, the entrepreneur sold Yo! Sushi to start other businesses, but he still receives a 1% annual royalty from the gross sales.

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Portfolio of Simon Woodroffe- The King of YO!

The tycoon also introduced several businesses namely, YO! How, YO! Below, Yo! Home, Radiovision, Simon Woodroffe Associates, Plumbline Design, and S2. In 2018, the tycoon came into the limelight by introducing a new venture, Yo! Island, in the Bahamas. Moreover, Simon is currently a motivational speaker at conferences and corporate and promotional events. The entrepreneur speaks around the world and is famous for talking about his YO! ventures at the Edinburgh Festival.

As a motivational speaker, he transmits his confidence, ideas and positivity to zealous audiences, sharing his journey and secrets of success. Moreover, the entrepreneur also mentors new start-ups and small enterprises. He has also written a book named ‘The Book of YO!’, which was originally published in June 2000.

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Simon has always been creative, enthusiastic and innovative in his career. He has proved that creative ideas, hard work, self-belief, dedication and determination can build a successful business. He is inspiring and helping budding entrepreneurs with his mentorship, motivational speeches and writings.