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Interview An Interview with Sahar Hashemi

An Interview with Sahar Hashemi

Co-Founder of Coffee Republic, Sahar Hashemi is an entrepreneur with an extraordinary and inspirational tale of turning an idea into a reality.

We recently had Sahar Hashemi come and visit the team at SC Towers. We’ve known Sahar a while, but we never tire of hearing her classically inspirational entrepreneur story! From the initial lightbulb moment, to growing a business with her brother, Sahar’s journey contains a wealth of tangible lessons.

Her latest book, Start Up Forever, is all about keeping that initial mindset alive. We sat down with Sahar to talk about her career, and what we can all learn from the start-up mentality.

Hi Sahar! We loved having you come and chat to us at SC HQ! Could we start by giving our readers a whistle-stop tour of your story?

Well, this is whistle stop! I would never have thought I was an entrepreneur. I started my career as a lawyer. I wasn’t very good at it and didn’t enjoy it much. I quickly learnt that these are the same things - if you love something you will be good at it - and vice versa, if you hate it then by definition you will be crap at it!

I started one single coffee shop because I wanted to drink the skinny lattes I had seen in New York in the UK. And the rest is history! I am on my third book now, sharing everything I’ve learnt in the process of going from corporate to entrepreneurial and back to corporate again!

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What advice might you give someone who believes they are destined only to be an employee, not an entrepreneur?

I think it’s a total myth that employees and entrepreneurs are different. In this crazy world we live in, whether we work for a business we have started, or work for someone else’s business, we need to think like an entrepreneur. We need to think agile, react fast, experiment and be a bit risky.


What can big companies learn from start-ups – and how can they apply those lessons?

It’s all about the pace of change. Big companies that take a certain comfort in their size, scale, and market position are being threatened. This disruptive change is pushing companies out of their long-time comfort zones into the same choppy waters – full of uncertainty, shifting customer expectations, and scarce resources – that entrepreneurs have always operated in.

But big companies don’t know how to survive those waters. They are too set in their ways. Their sheer size and scale, which once gave them their biggest edge, has become their biggest liability. They can’t manoeuvre quickly or keep up with the pace. They need to learn there are new ways of behaving, just like how entrepreneurs are more agile, fluid, and lightweight.

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We’d love to hear a little bit about your latest book, Start Up Forever. What was the inspiration behind it?

START UP FOREVER is about how to think and behave like a start-up when you’re not a start-up.

It’s my very straightforward and simple answer to the hotly debated and often complicated question of how to encourage entrepreneurial behaviour in large organisations. It has evolved out of my own personal experiences – my early corporate career, my start-up history, the 400 or so big organisations I have spoken to on this very topic and my immersion over these last twenty years in the entrepreneurial ecosystem – which has given me a deep ground-level understanding of what start-up culture really is and why it gets blocked in big companies.

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If your audience could take home one key message from you, what would it be?

That employees can behave just like entrepreneurs do, and that big companies can have a start up culture. Sure, it needs constant vigilence and fighting off the bureaucracy and big company habits, but it’s totally doable. All it takes is some easy shifts in day to day behaviours.

And finally, what’s next for you Sahar?

I want to do a Ted Talk about the ‘heart’ side of business. No one ever talks about the human stuff - about the fears, the comfort zone and about taking the leap in life.

We think that’s great Sahar, keep pushing the goal posts!

For further information or to book a speaker, call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070+44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email info@speakerscorner.co.uk.

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