Sarah Willingham is an award winning entrepreneur and a former investor on ‘Dragons’ Den‘ on BBC2.
Having spent the early years of her career managing some of the biggest household names in high street restaurants – opening over 50 Planet Hollywood and Pizza Express restaurants all over the world, Sarah Willingham decided to go it alone.
She successfully raised the finance to buy The Bombay Bicycle Club in 2004, and turned a heavily loss making business of 6 restaurants into a profitable group of 17, establishing the largest chain and most successful chain of Indian restaurants in the UK.
Realising that running her business, 1500 staff and an ever growing family was going to upset the balance at home, in 2007, Sarah decided to sell her shares in the Bombay Bicycle Club.
Sarah was acknowledged by Management Today and The Times as one of the “35 most successful women under 35” in the UK.
Other accolades include Business Weekly’s ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year‘, one of the ‘Courvoisier Top 500‘ and an entry in the Who’s Who in British Business Leaders.
Sarah appeared alongside Raymond Blanc as a judge and investor on the popular BBC2 series The Restaurant from 2006-8.
The show ran for three series and Sarah’s no-nonsense approach proved popular with viewers.
Sarah co-founded and invested in The London Cocktail Club and Craft Cocktail Company with the winners of series 3. She has helped grow these two concepts into fast growing, award winning businesses.
Sarah Willingham – Dragon:
In 2015 Sarah was asked to join the team of Dragons on the popular BBC 2 TV show Dragon’s Den.
Sarah was a new breed of Dragon – the first ever Dragon who was a working mum of four young children. She has been at the coalface with every business she’s ever launched and is not afraid to get her hands dirty and do what it takes to help small businesses grow… Sarah knows what it takes to turn a great business concept into a thriving enterprise.
Willingham holds three business degrees including an MBA from Cranfield School of Management, where she is also an advisory board member.
Born in Stoke, she went to school in Newcastle and is very proud of her northern, working class roots, positive upbringing and work ethic.
Today Sarah Willingham runs her business portfolio from her home office alongside her entrepreneur husband. They jointly invest in and support more than 10 business ventures from start-ups to established and growing brands in the food and drink, consumer finance, banking, mining, technology, lead generation and entertainment sectors, most of which are located across the UK, Middle East and North America.
Sarah is available to deliver Q&A led speeches, participate in panel discussion and be the subject of ‘In Conversation with…‘ events.
Sarah’s topics include:
- Customer Service
- Customer Relations
- Financial Services
- Leadership and Teamwork
- Business Turnarounds
- Food, Restaurant/Retail/Leisure industries