Sahar Hashemi

Entrepreneur and Innovation Expert


"In the creative world, ideas
are worthless unless they are acted on."

About Sahar Hashemi

Sahar Hashemi is a keynote speaker, author, entrepreneur and powerful authority on innovation. She is the co-founder of Coffee Republic, the first UK coffee bar chain and she created Skinny Candy, the guilt-free confectionery brand. Sahar has been recognised for her entrepreneurial achievements with an OBE and has been named a ‘Pioneer to the life of the nation’ by Her Majesty the Queen; as well as numerous other awards such as the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader.

Sahar is now Co-Chair for the Government Scale-Up Taskforce, which brings together entrepreneurs, investors and local bodies from around the UK to help more businesses become high growth. This is in addition to being part of Change Please, a disruptive coffee brand that recruits staff from local homeless shelters and trains them to become baristas with their own mobile coffee carts. In other areas Sahar currently writes for, sits on the advisory board of the Fashion Trust offering business support to new designers and is helping Bristol University launch a first of its kind degree course combining innovation and entrepreneurship with traditional subjects.

In her new book ‘START UP FOREVER’ Sahar explains passionately about entrepreneurship being an approach that anyone can be successful at if they follow six basic principles.  Sahar goes on to explain that entrepreneurship is not just for start-ups but that it is already a culture fostered within large corporations such as Apple, Google and Amazon successfully.

START UP FOREVER – How to Build a Startup Culture in a Big Company
Bringing the Magic and Energy of Startup Thinking to Big Companies
6 Shifts for an Entrepreneurial Mindset
How to Nurture Entrepreneurial Energy in a Large Organisation
What’s Love Got to Do with Leadership
The Importance of Being Your Own Customer
Feminine Qualities are the New Untapped Competitive Advantage

Interview with Sahar Hashemi

You are highly regarded as an entrepreneur and innovator. You have said that ‘anyone can do it’, do you really believe this?

Yes I do – I never thought I was an entrepreneur- I bought into the myth that it was almost a magic chromosome you had to have or some sort of genius tendency – that it wasn’t for normal people like me – and that’s why I called my book ANYONE CAN DO IT – because if I could do it – so could anyone else – we all have an area we excel at and the golden key is just to find what that area is which plays to our strengths.

What do you believe are the most valuable lessons you learnt from creating Coffee Republic and are you applying them to your new disruptive coffee venture?

The most valuable lesson was really simple – looking at the business as a customer – it gives you so much insight and clarity when you look through the customer’s eyes – and caring about every detail the customer cares about. Because it’s all in the detail. And that’s very much what we are doing at Change Please – we are a coffee brand unlike any other – in that we train and hire homeless people as baristas – but the key is not to forget that the customer still needs a great coffee experience comparable to the big coffee players – and we should never compromise that experience and give the customer anything inferior to other coffee offers on the high street, just because we are a social enterprise.

You are Co-Chair of the Government Scale-up Taskforce, bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and local bodies helping more businesses become high growth. What do you believe are the benefits of bringing groups with different interests together to help businesses grow?<

The aim of the taskforce is to enable more businesses in this country to scale to their full potential- and to do that you need to bring in all the organisations and bodies that already support businesses together with people who have direct experience of growing their businesses so we can not only find the barriers that exist but develop an ecosystem that encourages businesses to grow.

A mere 1% boost in scale ups makes a huge difference to job creation and economic growth – so it’s a great incentive for the public and private sector together to create a viable scale up eco system.

You are involved with the Fashion Trust Advisory helping support new designers. How important do you feel it is to nurture new and upcoming talent and to what degree do you feel they benefit from an outside mentor and professional?

I’m thrilled to be involved with the Fashion Trust which has helped many of the well known names in the British fashion scene. The UK’s fashion industry is one of our major creative industries and biggest employer in the creative sector. And the importance of supporting design talent in the UK increases in the wake of the economic climate especially since Brexit. Since its inception in 2011, the Trust has given over £1.5 million to over 30 designers to assist with business, e-commerce and retail decisions. Together with the mentoring support this makes a huge difference in their stability and indeed livelihood.

You are completing your third book, focusing on big business. Can you tell us a little more?

It’s called START UP FOREVER and it’s basically about how to behave like a start-up when you are no longer a start-up. It’s aimed at big companies which I’ve worked with a lot over the last few years and about the need to instil an entrepreneurial mindset. I’ve seen first hand how start-ups work – and I’ve seen how a ‘grown up’ business works. They couldn’t be more different. And yet they now operate in the same environment – same uncertainty, same need to move fast, to adapt to change, to do more with less. And the solution is easy – it’s about people in big organisations acting like they run a start-up.


In her latest book Start-Up Forever, published in February 2019, Sahar throws out the excuses that have previously stifled entrepreneurial behaviour in big companies. She believes big companies acting like start-ups are neither unattainable, nor complicated. It’s simple, intuitive and in fact very human.

“Anyone Can Do It” chronicles the start and evolution of a successful business dream. Beginning with the Hashemi siblings’ first conversations (when the seed of the idea was planted) it follows the progress of Coffee Republic from business plan to the present day. This is a start-up business book for real people.

How to book Sahar Hashemi

Sahar’s enthralling speeches captivate audiences as she relays her own entrepreneurial experiences, both the ups and the downs, with key themes of employee engagement and change management. She highlights the determination, open mindedness and passion needed to succeed as a business person starting out from the very beginning.

A passionate keynote speaker, Sahar leaves delegates inspired and motivated to switch on their mind-sets, stretch themselves outside their comfort zone and be ready to awaken the entrepreneur within.

If you would like to book Sahar Hashemi for your next event, please call Dagmar O’Toole on +44 1628 601 462 or send an email to

“She was bang on in terms of experience, background, messaging and hit the nail on the head in terms of content and relevance.”

— Global Travel Company

“Sahar had a powerful impact on everyone’s mindset. This was very visible the next day – the audience had a real can do spirit.”

— Health Provider