Sarah Willingham

Businesswoman, Investor & Dragons' Den Panelist

Serial entrepreneur, business investor and leading consumer expert Sarah Willingham successfully juggles several fast growing businesses whilst bringing up her four very young children. Sarah has received a number of accolades for her contribution to business, including The Times 35 Most Successful Women under 35, Business Weekly’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Courvoisier Top 500 and an entry in the Who’s Who of British Business Leaders.

Holding three business degrees, Willingham is also an advisory board member of the Cranfield School of Management. Fascinated by the concept of business from an early age, Sarah grew up in Stoke on Trent and was particularly interested in consumer brands and recalls. “I was intrigued by how brands become household names, although I didn’t know it as ‘branding and marketing’ then. I would just be amazed at how all my friends had the same things in their fridge, the same toys and games and the same clothes.”

At the young age of 13, Sarah started working in a restaurant and ultimately combined her passion for business and food and drink into a very successful multi-million pound business empire. In 2013, Sarah managed to spot an opportunity to create a chain of Indian restaurants, but her business plan was rejected by fellow Pizza Express executives.

Undeterred by this this, Sarah raised the finance to buy The Bombay Bicycle Club. After this decision, The Bombay Bicycle Club went on to become the largest and most successful Indian restaurant franchise in the UK. In the same year, Sarah sat on two plc boards and successfully floated a nutraceutical business on to the London Stock Exchange. Shortly after, Sarah sold her shares in The Bombay Bicycle Club and Clapham House Group plc for a seven figure sum.

In 2007, Sarah appeared alongside Raymond Blanc as a judge on the popular BBC2 series The Restaurant. 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.

Sarah has helped grow these two concepts into fast growing, award winning businesses. Sarah is as passionate about her home life and being a smart consumer as she is about her businesses and providing above average customer service. She applies her innate business savvy at home and is regularly asked to share her consumer expertise on national TV and in the press.

In March of 2015, Sarah was named as one of the new ‘dragons’ on the hit BBC Two show Dragons Den. Sarah has made multiple investments on the show, and her success is showing through these businesses. In a business world dominated by men, Sarah Willingham is a prime example of just what can be achieved with a passion and pure commitment. A brilliant after dinner speaker, Sarah has some truly inspiring stories of both success and failure within the brutal modern, business world.

To book Sarah Willingham as the finance speaker for your corporate event, function or conference, simply contact the Champions Speakers agency by emailing agent@championsukplc.com or by calling a booking agent directly on 0207 1010 553.

When at corporate events, Sarah is known to cover the following topics:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Food & Wine
  • Marketing & Branding
  • Retail & Business Management
  • Sales & Customer Service