Sahar Hashemi co-founded Coffee Republic, the UK's first US style coffee bar chain with her brother Bobby and built it into one of the UK's most recognised high street brands with 110 bars and a turnover of £30m.
Giving up professional careers (she as a lawyer in London and Bobby as an investment banker in New York) they staked everything on a dream and made Coffee Republic one of the main players in the coffee revolution that transformed the UK high street.
Sahar left the day-to-day management of Coffee Republic in 2001 and published a best-selling book Anyone Can Do It – Building Coffee Republic from Our Kitchen Table, which has been translated into 6 languages and is 2nd highest selling book on entrepreneurship after Sir Richard Branson.
In 2005, she founded Skinny Candy, a brand of sugar free sweets, labelled hip by Vogue magazine. Skinny Candy was sold to confectionery conglomerate Glisten PLC in 2007.
Her second book, Switched On, published in 2010, focuses on 8 habits that foster a more entrepreneurial mindset for employees. It is based on her experience of the transformation in culture when a small entrepreneurial company becomes big and successful, when the obvious and easy entrepreneurial habits are often forgotten as bureaucracy take over.
In 2011, Sahar was nominated by Director magazine as one of its Top 10 Original Thinkers, taking her place alongside individuals such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and Jonathan Ives, former Vice-President of Design at Apple and designer of the iPod.
The magazine praised her view that "Entrepreneurially minded talent shouldn't have to leave large corporations in order to achieve fulfilment. Entrepreneurial behaviour, including ideas like bootstrapping, prototyping and celebrating failure, can help turn stuffy corporations into creative environments. They can also transform automatons into valued, engaged employees".
Also in 2011, she was invited to join the Entrepreneurs Forum set up by UK Business Secretary Vince Cable to give informal personal advice to the government on enterprise policies.
In June 2012, Sahar was awarded an OBE for services to the UK economy and to charity. She was named 'Pioneer to the life of the nation' by Her Majesty The Queen and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos.
In 2019, Sahar published her latest book Startup Forever. She explains the purpose of the book: "In my work, I'm always asked the same questions:-
How can we grow big but act small?
How can we encourage innovative thinking and drive growth by finding different and new ways of doing things?
As we face disruptive change, how can we be more agile, more resilient and less stuck in our ways?
How can I get my people to think outside the box, to experiment, and take the initiative?
How can I get everyone in the company to think more like entrepreneurs?
The solutions to these questions, which Sahar has picked up on her journey are, in fact, strikingly common sense. They are simple shifts in how to approach everyday work with an entrepreneurial mindset together with day-to-day actions anyone can take to put this more entrepreneurial mindset to work.
She is a mentor to Change Please, a charity that provides pop-up coffee bars run by homeless people, giving them the help and support they need to turn their lives around.