I was born in Coventry in 1968. I dropped out of sixth-form age 17 to get my career going.
My passion was aviation but I couldn’t be an airline pilot as I was colour blind so joined a company supplying components to the global aerospace industry. A year later I was made redundant so had to start again.
I gained an apprenticeship in the same company and a year later was given my break. I turned round a contract we were about to lose for the prestigious US aero engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. A year later we became one of their global preferred suppliers. Not bad for a 19 year old. A couple of years later I had realised that life in a big company wasn’t for me.
I moved to London and founded my first business, Martyn Dawes Associates where I helped small companies up and down the UK put in place the management systems needed to grow. Within five years I had built a successful consultancy firm, but I wanted to do it for myself so I launched…
This started from a simple idea in 1996 to put takeaway coffee in corner shops in London just like I’d seen in New York but I managed to make every mistake going…and some new ones too!
My mantra was to never give up no matter the challenges. I survived long enough to work out what I had to change and that was pretty much everything. I also realised I couldn’t do it all on my own and gladly accepted help from those that had been where I dreamt of getting to.
By 2000 I was ready to roll. We raised £4m and seven years later had 600 Coffee Nation kiosks across the UK. Our brand was usually the no.1 highest selling product where it was sold. When we sold in 2008 our investors made 4 x their money.
After Coffee Nation
I help growth companies and ambitious entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
I mentor ambitious entrepreneurs and boards – helping them hold up a mirror, challenge their thinking and position their companies for high growth.
I am regularly asked to speak on the entrepreneurial journey, how to achieve high growth, overcoming adversity, building great boards and achieving successful exits.
I also noticed that so many entrepreneurs I meet continue to make the same mistakes I did back in the 90’s. So I wrote ‘Wake Up and Sell the Coffee’.
Oh…and I did get my pilot’s licence!