Chuku’s visit the StartUp Britain bus
London-born sibling duo, Ifeyinwa and Emeka Frederick, the co-founders of Chuku’s the world’s first Nigerian tapas lounge describe their takeaways from visiting the Start Up Britain Bus
IF: We launched Chuku’s, the world’s first Nigerian tapas lounge, in August 2015, seizing the summer that Emeka and I were both back in London for the first time in a long time. I had been living in the French Caribbean and was just popping back to London for a couple of months before I went off to live in France, and prior to that I was at Cambridge University. Emeka had been working in London for a few years, but previously he’d been living abroad too in Spain – where he had fallen in love with tapas and it’s sharing, sociable culture. Having sold out our first pop-up, at the time we didn’t have a business plan or a plan for a series of future events. But seeing a full house of happy customers enjoying the special atmosphere that we had created, we were immediately hooked and booked the same venue for pop-up number 2.
EF: As it approaches our first birthday and we reflect on the year, there have been some massive achievements: features in the Evening Standard and the Metro; becoming Guinness World Record holders, having been shortlisted and participated in Richard Branson’s VOOM startup pitchathon; meeting Arsenal football legend Thierry Henry and a surprise visit to our lounge from Team GB’s 400m Olympic Champion, Christine Ohuruogu. But the reality is, we could have done even more. Building a business together for the first time in an industry that we have limited experience of, we’ve suffered many moments of self-doubt. At times we’ve been driving with the handbrake on, as we try to negotiate the initial corners, speed bumps and cross-roads. And we have probably missed opportunities to really accelerate the business.
Visiting the Start Up Britain bus was a fantastic experience, as we were thrust into roles of mentoring entrepreneurs. As we started to recount our story and how we’ve got as far as we have done, we started to realise that we’re actually much better than we think are. We’re very capable individually and we gel really well together, thanks to growing up in the same house. We are strategic, business-minded people and we’re demonstrating that we’re quick learners in our field. We know we have to continue embodying the “just do it” message that we shared with other budding entrepreneurs, as it’s that mentality that has allowed us to kick-start our business. Yes, we need to plan. Yes, we need a strategy. But we also need to keep going for it. Keep feeding the passion and focusing on the promise – not the fear.
IF: If you’re starting a start-up or just thinking of one, we would recommend booking a trip to the Start Up Britain bus. You don’t know who you could meet. You don’t know how sharing your story could help someone else with their big idea. And who knows, you might actually re-find some of yourself, so you can move forward with achieving your dream.
Chuku’s is popping back up in London this month to celebrate its first birthday. Fancy celebrating it with them? Here’s where and when: