Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE

Founder and former CEO of Cobra Beer

About

Born on November 26th 1961 in India, Karan started his career at Ernst & Young in 1982, where he spent four years working in audit, tax, training and accounting. It was here Bilimoria began small entrepreneurial ventures, such as selling polo sticks from India to premium London stores such as Harrod's.

He qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1987, and a year later moved to Cresvale Ltd, London (part of S&W Beresford) as a Consulting Accountant. In 1989 he moved to European Accounting Focus magazine, where he was the Sales & Marketing Director.

As a student, Bilimoria would eat at the myriad of Indian restaurants or curry houses in Britain and soon identified a problem which he turned into a business. When he would order beer with his spicy Indian food, the established lager brands or house beers would cause bloating. This in turn would limit the amount they would spend on food and beer. Even the alternative to lager, real ale, didn't go well with Indian food.

As a result, in 1989 Bilimoria and his business partner, Arjun Reddy, founded Cobra Beers. These beers were brewed of rice, maize and hops for a smoother, less gassy drink.

Bilimoria's entry into the Indian lager beer market in 1990 was well timed with two major consumer trends in Britain: The growth of lager over ale (1% lager to 99% ale in 1960 to 60% lager by 2001) and the growth of UK Indian restaurants from 3000 in 1980 to 8500 by 2001.

In the early nineties, Bilimoria and his small sales staff called Indian restaurants around the UK trying to persuade restaurant owners to stock Cobra Beer. Rather than overtly putting down other brands when selling Cobra, Bilimoria explains "we believe customers should have a choice, we just want to make sure one of those choices is Cobra".

Bilimoria made a point to highlight the culture at Cobra as a key to the company's success. "We have no dress code - people can come to work in shorts for all we care. If you give respect and trust to your employees you get trust back". He also had several tips for young aspiring entrepreneurs: "Invest in building a great team, including hiring people to head up marketing/sales, finance, and other functions who are better at it than you. Invest in training your employees. Research and understand your market thoroughly, improve a product or service, and lead, do not follow''.

How to book Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE for your event

To book Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, please submit an online enquiry, email bookings@nmp.co.uk or speak with one of our booking agents on +44 (0)1372 361 004.

You may also be interested in...
Gerald Ratner | NMP Live
Gerald Ratner

Former jewellery magnate and one of Britain's best-known businessmen

Simon Woodroffe OBE | NMP Live
Simon Woodroffe OBE

Entrepreneur and founder of YO! Sushi

Sir Stuart Hampson | NMP Live
Sir Stuart Hampson

Former Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and The Crown Estate

Richard Reed | NMP Live
Richard Reed

Co-Founder of Innocent Drinks, the number one smoothie brand In the UK

Baroness Michelle Mone OBE | NMP Live
Baroness Michelle Mone OBE

Award-winning entrepreneur and business start-up tsar for the UK Government

Jo Fairley | NMP Live
Jo Fairley

Co-founder of Green & Black's chocolate

You may also be interested in...
Gerald Ratner | NMP Live
Gerald Ratner

Former jewellery magnate and one of Britain's best-known businessmen

Simon Woodroffe OBE | NMP Live
Simon Woodroffe OBE

Entrepreneur and founder of YO! Sushi

Sir Stuart Hampson | NMP Live
Sir Stuart Hampson

Former Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and The Crown Estate

Richard Reed | NMP Live
Richard Reed

Co-Founder of Innocent Drinks, the number one smoothie brand In the UK

Baroness Michelle Mone OBE | NMP Live
Baroness Michelle Mone OBE

Award-winning entrepreneur and business start-up tsar for the UK Government

Jo Fairley | NMP Live
Jo Fairley

Co-founder of Green & Black's chocolate

you made the whole process of finding and engaging our speaker very easy.
Julie Smith, Head of HR - Hastoe Group
MORE TESTIMONIALS
Bookings and enquiries
Call +44 (0)1372 361 004 or Email us

Need help and advice? | Want to join our roster?

MAKE AN ENQUIRY