Karen is a highly respected and hugely successful serial entrepreneur with a career spanning three decades. In 1983 she set up one of the country's first telemarketing companies building the business to 200 staff and sales in excess of £4m before selling her share in 1990. She then ran a training and consultancy business from home whilst raising her young family.
In 2002 Karen launched her third venture, SimplySwitch, the pioneering telephone-based price comparison and switching service. Based in one of the UK's most deprived areas, four out of every five staff were unemployed when they joined the company. Karen created over 100 jobs, raised £500k for charity and helped thousands of consumers save over £20m on their household bills. In August 2006 Karen sold SimplySwitch to DMGT (owners of the Daily Mail) for £22m producing x 22 multiple for her investors and an IRR of 165%.
Karen went on to launch Call Britannia in 2009 with a mission to create 10,000 jobs for the long term unemployed and those with significant barriers to employment. The business was conceived in a downturn and launched in a recession with £1m of venture capital funding.
Karen's fifth new start up CrowdMission, is the world's first equity-based crowdfunding platform exclusively for mission-driven business. Karen firmly believes as both an investor and entrepreneur that you can make money AND make a difference. She has written a book about her entrepreneurial adventures, 'Burning my Bridges'.
Karen is married with three sons and likes to mentor and support entrepreneurs in her spare time.
Karen was wonderful...the feedback from the delegates was very positive and she was very motivational and inspirational. Filton College - February 2009
"AMAZING! Karen is a complete star." PR4 - Feb 2008 Karen took part in a media campaign for BusinessLink
"I really loved your talk, and I know the audience did too. It was a brilliant mix of your own personal story combined with practical business advice¦you made us laugh a lot as well!"
FreshIdea Events - December 2007
Karen Darby is a super-inspirational entrepreneur. Her story, of creating several major business success stories while also juggling a real life at home, is a tale of our times of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, woman and mother in the 21st century. Karen is exciting, high-energy, imaginative and highly entertaining. She's a natural on stage but equally comfortable offering one-to-one advice to guests afterwards on how to build a business. And here's the ultimate proof of her abilities: I rang her up with two hours' notice to join a panel speaking to an audience of aspiring entrepreneurs; and not only did she say yes she was also the star of the show! Caspian Publishing