Telling the truth about SME life today

Martyn Dawes: Founder of Coffee Nation

Name: Martyn Dawes

Age: 43

Company: Coffee Nation

Company turnover: £20m when I exited in 2008; the company has just been sold again, this time to Whitbread/Costa.

First job: Management trainee in an aerospace components supplier.?

Dream job: When I was a child I wanted to be an airline pilot. Sadly I am colour blind so that stayed a dream! Leading Coffee Nation was (at least most days) a dream job; it never felt like work!

Car: Aston Martin DBS

Economy, business or first class: Economy always on short haul, business on really long flights” and if I have enough air miles.

Most extravagant purchase: See car, above!

Most-played song on your iPod: Matt Monro’s “On Days Like These”, when driving the car on fast roads on a sunny day. Watch the opening scene of The Italian Job to see why. Also, “Chase the Sun” by Planet Funk. Very inspirational.

Best business book: How Life Imitates Chess by Garry Kasparov; Think Big by Donald Trump and an early nineties biography of Tiny Rowland by Tom Bower called Rebel Tycoon.

Worst business moment: Not paying down redeemable cumulative preference shares when we had the cash and instead investing in long-term company development.

Proudest business moment: The two successful exits for the company in 2008 and again this year. That’s what it’s all about!

Your business mentor: There has not been one single individual I have been fortunate to be helped by various successful people along the way. That continues to this day.

Next big thing: I am now working on my next business venture. I am following the classic “serial entrepreneur” route: a different sector to before, get in early, play to a long-term trend, follow your instincts and don’t over analyse.



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