Best known for his role as an investor on the BBC’s ‘Dragons’ Den’, James Caan is a serial entrepreneur who now works as a government advisor and for numerous charities.
Early Life and Early Career
Nazim Khan (now James Caan) was born in Lahore, Pakistan on the 28th of December 1960. When he was two years old, he and his family moved to Brick Lane in London, where his father set up a leather jacket making company. Despite the fact his family wanted him to take on this business on leaving school, Caan decided he did not want to take on this role. Though they didn’t talk for many years after Caan’s decision not to take on the family business, Caan feels that much of his entrepreneurial spirit was inspired by his father. He left his family home and formal education at the age of just sixteen, supporting himself with a job as a door-to-door salesman. Despite his abilities in sales, Caan found this job daunting due to the amount of travel involved, and actively sought office based work; he was soon employed by the Grand Metropolitan conglomerate.
Caan went on to work in several jobs, predominantly working within recruitment agencies. He and future wife Aisha set up a boutique in the early 1980s which soon became successful, taking around £12,000 per month. Despite the success of this company, he felt that starting his own business was the way forward, and set out to do so.
In the 1980s, he changed his name from Nazim Khan to James Caan (inspired by the famous actor), hoping it would make him more memorable to clients. Caan then started Alexander Mann Group, a recruitment company based in Pall Mall. He believed that the prestigious address would increase the company’s profile; despite the fact the office was one small room! He sold the business in 2002.
Caan also co-founded Humana International (in 1993), a company which head-hunts executives for businesses all over the globe. Within a few years, the business had 147 offices in 30 countries. Caan sold his share of the business in 1999.
Caan went on to found Hamilton Bradshaw Ltd, a private equity business designed to assist small to medium businesses achieve their full financial potential. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the company.
Having missed out on many formal qualifications when he left school at 16, Caan decided to re-enter education as an adult in 2003, completing Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme.
Caan’s success as an entrepreneur made him an ideal candidate to appear as a ‘Dragon’ investor in the BBC series ‘Dragon’s Den’. He joined the show in 2007 and impressed viewers and those in the den with his calm and measured demeanour. He invested in a number of new businesses; he has always felt that encouraging entrepreneurs is very important to individuals and to society as a whole.
During the Pakistan Flood of 2010, Caan worked with The Department for International Development to help determine ways in which aid could be provided to people affected. Caan currently works as a government policy advisor on the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, providing his insight and knowledge into business and entrepreneurship.
Caan has worked extensively with the Children in Need charity, taking part in TV specials to raise funds and contributing to work on an after school centre for children and young people. He took part in a trip to Kenya for Sport Relief.
In 2005, Caan set up his own charity, the James Caan Foundation. Initially founded to help poor communities in Pakistan, the organisation now works alongside numerous other charities in order to help provide help to people who need it in many countries. Caan has also worked with other charities, including Marie Curie, The Prince’s Trust, Mosaic, the Care Foundation and the NSPCC.
Caan lives with his wife Aisha. The couple have two daughters named Jemma-Lia and Hannah.