Speaker's Biography

Lord Karan Bilimoria is the founder of Cobra Beer.  Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant, Karan Bilimoria developed a less gassy, premium lager brewed to perfectly appeal to both ale drinkers and lager drinkers alike and to complement food.

Little more than fifteen years later, Cobra Beer is one of the fastest growing beer brands in the UK and one of the most innovative young companies in the country. The brand has a current retail value turnover of £96 million, is sold in nearly 6,000 Indian restaurants, and is available to 6,000 bars, pubs and clubs and in over 12,000 branches of leading multiples, supermarkets and off-licenses throughout the UK. Cobra Beer was awarded 12 Gold Medals at the 2006 Monde Selection, Brussels, World Selection of Quality Awards – more than any other beer in the world and one more than the company’s already world-beating total in 2005.

Karan Bilimoria started Cobra in 1990 when he was £20,000 in debt and up against all odds. Since that time, Cobra has grown into an operation with offices on four continents and exports to over 45 countries, with brewing operations in five countries.

Karan is widely respected for his entrepreneurial spirit. He is one of the first two Visiting Entrepreneurs ever appointed at Cambridge University and serves as National Champion of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship.

He sits on the Government’s National Employment Panel (NEP), and from 2001 to 2005 was Chairman of the NEP’s SME Board. He lectures extensively in the UK and abroad on entrepreneurship, business, education, and the Indo-British relationship.

Karan has won numerous awards in recognition of his business achievements and charitable work, including the RSA’s Albert Medal in the Society’s 250th anniversary year, 2004. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year 2003 and Business Person of the Year 2004 by the London Business Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year 2004 at the National Business Awards (London and South East of England) and London Entrepreneur of the Year 2003 (Consumer Products) by Ernst & Young.

In 2005, Karan was honoured with the Award for Outstanding Achievement by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in the Institute’s 125th anniversary year. He was named Man of the Year at the 2006 Drinks Business Awards. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by Brunel University, Heriot-Watt University and Staffordshire University.