OUR SECOND CONTRIBUTOR TO THIS NEW SECTION IS PHILIPP CHAYKIN. PHILIPP USED TO WORK FOR THE GAZPROM COMPANY IN THE UK, BUT NOW HE IS CO-FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF UGLY DUMPLING RESTAURANT, LONDON
Co-Founder and Managing Director
Ugly Dumpling Restaurant
Thank you for setting aside some time to talk with me today. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Philipp Chaykin, and I am Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ugly Dumpling restaurants. I have been in the hospitality industry for only two years, having left my
I am very interested to know more about how you came to the UK and started your career?
I was born and raised in Russia, but at the age of fifteen my parents asked me if I wanted to get educated in England. I was immediately taken by the notion. I finished my GCSEs and A-Levels and went on to read for a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Politics at Queen Mary University in London, followed by a Masters in International Relations and Globalisation.
My first dissertation was on the subject of the energy struggle between the US and China – a sort of geopolitical analysis with particular focus on oil and gas, which set me up for my future corporate career. Further on, I enrolled on a business administration course, and my major
research piece was on franchising in the restaurant industry – this was even before any thought crossed my mind that my future would involve the hospitality industry.
What happened that made you decide to stop your corporate career at Gazprom and start your own business?
During my time at Gazprom Marketing and Trading I held the position of Strategy Advisor, and I worked on a number of incredible projects, including the general European gas sales strategy, LNG bunkering/gas for transport, the oil and LPG strategy in the Far East and many more.
During my professional life I was always punctual, and I always completed my work effectively, efficiently and to a high standard. There is only so much you can do, and you can always do more. However at some point creating more work for yourself becomes detrimental and it stops you from being useful to the company.
The issue of perception, in my opinion, is also closely connected to intra-company politics. You need to be in constant focus in terms of how to communicate to your
colleagues, always knowing whom to approach first, how to approach them, and whom to, frankly, ignore.
This may sound controversial, but I think that many successful careers are built on positive perception and effective communication. It could be a talent you are born with, and I feel that it may be hard to develop. This in turn creates a problem that causes many talented and intelligent people to be left behind, reporting to decision-makers who are essentially inferior to them in terms of pure working knowledge.
I felt that I could continue and carry on, but the desire to grow beyond the confines of the corporate world grew stronger, so I decided to take a leap of faith and open my own restaurant. I always entertained an idea of a restaurant specialising in dumplings, and taking this dish beyond its traditional interpretation. Having had no earlier experience in food and beverage industry, I decided to perform extensive street food market research and partner with the best in the field to open a sit-down restaurant.
Why did you choose Dumpling restaurants? How did you find this business idea?
A restaurant was my only business idea – I never considered anything else. We all go to restaurants, and whichever restaurant I visited, I always found myself analysing their operations from all visible aspects. Obviously, opening my own restaurant has exposed thousands of previously invisible challenges, but by overcoming them I have built my knowledge, experience and confidence, and I can now call myself a professional.
The reason for choosing dumplings is quite simple – I felt like this concept has not been fully explored. Initially I wanted to explore dumplings from all global cultures, whether it is jaozi from China, pelmeni from Siberia, khinkali from Georgia, or momo from Nepal – almost each cuisine has their version of stuffed pastry. Having done some research and
considering the implications, I realised that it would be counterproductive to ‘rip out’ a piece of cuisine, in this case dumplings, without accompanying it with more dishes from the cuisine for a full experience.
Does the UK government motivate entrepreneurs to start a small business?
Having had my first and only experience of entrepreneurship in the UK, I could not pretend to know how business is done in other countries, however, I feel as if the UK government could do more to help small businesses, especially in the hospitality industry.
Recently we have seen a wave of high-street closures, including massive chains entering administration – examples are Patisserie Valerie, Byron, and Jamie’s Italian to name a few. While I personally believe that they, for the most part, failed to innovate and adapt to changing consumer patterns, however, a public outcry from the industry regarding rising rents and business rates could not be ignored.
Thankfully this concern has been heard, and the Conservative government is providing a small amount of rates relief to small businesses, and our Carnaby flagship restaurant just about falls under the threshold. As an example, from the £23K of annual business rates, I will save one third, which is just over one percent of the site’s annual revenue. It is not much, but it is better than nothing.
Could you please give some recommendations for young entrepreneurs who wants start a hospitality business in UK?
Before I started, I read an interview by Mikhail Zelman asking everyone to stay away from the restaurant industry, and in the UK in particular. My recommend ation would be to think hard about entering such a saturated market. If you do enter it, however, you have to be better than others at what you do, or you have to be the first doing it. The former is preferable, because if you start doing something new and are successful; I guarantee you will be copied, and you will have Do not try opening a business in the UK without having local knowledge – you need to know how Londoners/Brits think. If you are coming to the UK from overseas with a concept that has been proven successful elsewhere, get some local help anyway – this will tune your concept to local needs and help you establish business links.
In your opinion, what are your main professional and personal achievements??
I believe my main achievement, both professional and personal, was winning an argument against myself and changing my career path. I could be relatively happy with life in the corporate world, but I could never achieve the professional satisfaction that I get from being in the hospitality industry.
Last but not least, what are your professional plans and dreams?
I want to have four to five counter-service branches of Ugly Dumpling in London to prove to myself that I can build a replicable concept that can essentially run itself. I already have some other ideas and dreams, some potentially involving Moscow, but you can be assured that they will be in the hospitality industry, one way or another. This industry is my passion and I feel superbly comfortable being in it.
If you are a Young Professional and would like to contribute to this Section, please contact: Dr Tatiana Pospelova, THA Young Professionals Editor at *email address protected*.
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