James Caan is a British-Pakistani entrepreneur and TV personality. He is well-known for his participation in the television program on BBC ‘Dragons’ Den’ in which he was a Dragon from 2007 till 2010.
Caan was born on 28th December 1960 in Lahore, Pakistan. His father owned a garments company in East London and wanted Caan to join the business once he completed his education however, Caan wanted to excel further in life. At 16, he moved to Kensington to live alone which led to estrangement from his father for a long time. Caan went to a recruitment agency to find a job as he had no former experience of working. He started with door to door sales which he found uninteresting and tiring. He wanted to work at a proper office so he asked the recruitment agency to find him an indoor job. He switched many jobs but was not satisfied with any. Finally he opened up a boutique with his wife and that was when he realized that he wanted to establish his own company.
In 1980s, he founded his own recruitment agency by the name of ‘Alexander Maan’ in 1985 in Pall Mall. He chose this prestigious place so people would get the image that the company was very big however his office was so small that the door could not be properly opened as it blocked his desk. It had no meeting rooms so he met with clients in cafes telling them that all the rooms were filled with other clients. During this time he also changed his name to James Caan from Nazim Khan which also helped him as his new name was more familiar for people. In 1993, he started another executive headhunting firm called Humana International with Doug Bugie. This business expanded to include 147 offices in 30 countries. James Caan also launched a trade magazine called ‘Recruitment International’ in the same year which he sold in 2000. He co-established a business process outsources firm however sold his interests in 2002. Caan sold Humana International in 1999 along with a minority stake of Alexander Maan Group.
Caan started appearing in Dragons’ Den as a judge in the fifth season of the program and was replaced in 2012 by Hilary Devey. James Caan worked for the British government on many initiatives including the ‘Department for International Development’ and ‘The Government’s Entrepreneur’s Forum’. He was also a participant in the relief efforts in the Pakistan Flood of 2010. Caan is part of many other philanthropic efforts as well including his ‘James Caan Foundation’ which he founded in 2006, the Prince’s Trust, Mosaic, Marie Curie, NSPCC and Care Foundation. He was made the chairman of ‘The Big Issue Company’ in 2009. He has been part of many controversies such as his attempt to buy a baby in the Pakistan Flood in 2010 however later he apologized, saying that there were only good intentions behind this and he had only wanted to save the baby.
James Caan graduated from Harvard Business School in 2003 completing the Advanced Management program. He has also received four honorary degrees.