Shaper: Martyn Dawes

Show aired on 11th June 2016


Martyn Dawes, Founder & former CEO Coffee Nation & High Growth Business Mentor

Martyn Dawes is an entrepreneur and high-growth business mentor. He founded Coffee Nation in the late 1990s and quickly developed the business into 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, has been a recipient of the Sunday Times/Virgin Atlantic Fast Track Innovation Award and Martyn is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner for Consumer Products.

Martyn’s 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. Since then the company has gone on to be sold successfully – once in 2008, and again in 2011 to Whitbread where it is now known as Costa Express, securing its place as a great British entrepreneurial success story.

Martyn now mentors and coaches CEOs, Founders and Boards of growth companies and larger organisations. He is a Non-Executive Director of his original consulting company, Coachmatch – now a high-growth company itself – which exists to increase the success and happiness of individuals and organisations, shaping companies for the next 100 years. He is also a keynote speaker at prestigious business events and is regularly invited to address entrepreneurial and corporate audiences.  Martyn’s book, ‘Wake Up & Sell the Coffee’ – published by Harriman House – has been ranked as one of the top six entrepreneurship titles of 2013 by The Centre for Entrepreneurs.

Martyn is a Board member of the Greater London Chapter of the global Young Presidents Organisation ( having previously served as Chairman and Education Chair.

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“It was a gradual process… lots of experimenting, and lots and lots and lots of failures.”

“I think nine out of 10 businesses that become successful achieve their success through doing something different to what they started out doing.”

“It got a little scary because I was getting awfully close to running out of money.”

“There were many times I got close to thinking ‘am I flogging a dead horse here?'”

“I went from start-up entrepreneur to a more mature CEO and that was perhaps as challenging as starting the business in the first place.”

“I tried everything to sell more cups of coffee. I think the most daft one was a free suasage roll.”

“You know, I hardly look back on a day where I think it felt like work.”

“Post-exit there is often a bit of a lull because, you know, money in the bank. Great, but what next?”

“I have seen many successful businesses get to a certain point but then are blocked from further progress because of the limitations of the founder.”