Martyn Dawes is one of the UK’s most successful consumer products entrepreneurs.
He founded Coffee Nation in the late ’90s and quickly developed the business to be the UK’s leading brand of takeaway coffee sold from 600 locations across the UK.
Coffee Nation has been ranked year after year as one of the UK’s fastest-growing private companies. It has been a recipient of the Sunday Times Fast Track Innovation Award and Martyn was named Entrepreneur of the Year for Consumer Products.
Martyn Dawes grew up in the Midlands, dropped out of A levels and worked in a foundry and tractor factory before moving to London and starting his first business aged 23, a management consulting firm. Successful but frustrated, he risked all to start a business with a “real product” founding Coffee Nation in 1997.
On a trip to New York, he noticed how big the market was for takeaway coffee – not trendy coffee bars but “a dollar a cup sold from convenience and drugstores”. His vision was to put takeaway coffee into Britain’s newsagents. So started a three-year adventure that almost ended in disaster…
Out of cash and busting his overdraft limit, he then had his eureka moment of creating a self-serve mini-coffee bar with gourmet coffee inside supermarkets and petrol stations.
His breakthrough thinking allowed him to raise £4m of private equity funding in 2000 when all around him were rushing to raise funding for internet start-ups. As most of these fell by the wayside his business became a household name landing contracts with Tesco, Esso, Sainsbury and across all the UK’s motorways with Moto and Welcome Break.
Martyn Dawes’ vision was to create a bold new market category in the rapidly growing coffee marketplace. Despite many telling him that he’d be squashed by Starbucks or that no one would pay for a coffee in a petrol station, he stuck by his vision and by 2006 over 1 million people per month were buying Coffee Nation.
Martyn sold Coffee Nation in 2008 for £23 million.
The business has gone on to be sold successfully not once, but twice, securing its place as a great British success story in the coffee market.
Speaking topics include:
- The building of Coffee Nation
- My entrepreneurial journey -from a blank sheet of paper
- Overcoming adversity…never, ever give up!
- How to create an entrepreneurial culture
- Vision, leadership and culture in the high growth business
- Building the high growth business
- Why you don’t need patents to build a world-beater
- Innovation and my costly mistakes
- Creating a winning concept
- Getting to Plan ‘B’
- Start-up to exit
- Could you be a successful entrepreneur?
- Can anyone do this?
- How to raise money
- Winning with Britain’s biggest retailers