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Winning the GEW competition: Chuku’s!

Thought Leader

Winning the GEW competition: Chuku’s!


After winning £2,000 in our GEW competition, Virgin Media Pioneers invited Chuku’s founders Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick to answer a few questions on what drove them to tackle their ambitious pledges.

As a part of the competition, entrepreneurs who attended our #GEW2016 masterclasses were asked to hone their recently acquired knowledge and skills from our small business experts to show how they will make their business #VOOM in November.

Chuku’s is the world’s first Nigerian tapas lounge – blending traditional Nigerian cuisine with a chilled out tapas vibe. The heart of what they do is creating a space for busy Londoners to step back and immerse themselves into another culture. This is based on the three purposes of Chuku’s: chop, chat and chill. Chop is Nigerian slang for food, chat is exploring the social side of tapas, and chill is taking the time to kick back and relax. At Chuku’s you become immersed in that vibe; the Nigerian artwork and music transporting you away from the city.

Q1. What made you choose your particular pledges?

The masterclasses jolted us. We felt that we were doing okay but could always do a bit more. The energy in the sessions really got us going. We learnt that we needed to start small, but plan big.

It was about really pushing further with what we are already doing to make it work harder.

Most of our pledges were chosen because of the masterclasses. These were areas we had ideas about before the workshops, but the techniques to actually complete them were learnt at the sessions. For example, the network map that we picked up from Samantha Clarke’s session takes knowing who to go to one step further. Doing this focused our attention, and the masterclasses helped us crystallise the ideas we had into an action plan.

Q2. How did you find completing your pledges?

They were challenging to a degree – not necessarily the individual tasks but doing this alongside our final pop-up of the year which was 4 days after the deadline. We needed to keep reminding selves this is happening, and wanted to commit to making something happen for Grovember. Once we’d decided on what we were going to do, it did help give an extra push to make sure we put time aside for that side of the business too.

The hardest part was deciding to go ahead and make a change. Making the decision to accept the homework is the hardest part, once you’ve decided to do this you push to go and get it done.

It’s absolutely fantastic to give people that little push to do more. We didn’t just want to go home feeling inspired but then not make any changes. With the competition, you can make an action that same day to move your business forward.

Reading through the other pledges on the community we saw people made achievements within the first one or two days. Getting those reminders about it kept us focused on the challenge. We thought, “Come on you can do this, everyone is here to help you improve.”

Q3. Which was your favourite part of the competition?

The write up of what we did. It was great to recap on what we had done. After we’d written it down we thought, “Wow… this really is Grovember!” We have a tendency to always be running but sometimes don’t see how far we’ve actually come. To recognise what we have done in only 2 and a half weeks was amazing. At this point it didn’t matter about winning because we could see these things we’d achieved and could really celebrate them.

As young entrepreneurs it can feel isolating and you think that other people don’t know what you’re going through, but at the GEW masterclass we really felt like we’d joined a community. Hearing an expert at an event inspires you in one way, but seeing your own peer with the same stakes, at the same stage of their work and seeing what they are doing is really encouraging, it inspires you in a different way. It was really enjoyable seeing on paper where we had gone and the other people we met at the masterclasses. Ricky Kothari of T-Sticks was featured in the Guardian which was a huge achievement! People are going through the same challenges and making it happening. It can’t be underestimated how powerful that is to see.

Q4. What was your biggest learning from the masterclasses?

Sometimes we underestimate what we can achieve.

David McQueen said to make your goals big and it resonated with us. If you push yourself further, the best thing that could happen is achieve the big goal - but you never know what else can happen just by going for it.

We never thought would win because loads of people entered and did great, it doesn’t seem possible at first but we entered anyway. That’s the approach we want to have in future - give your goals a shot and hopefully achieve it. Even if you don’t, you push yourself further than if you hadn’t set the target so high anyway.

Making pledges is one thing we’ve been thinking about doing more with our business next year. Once you’ve set those targets, we can run hard to achieve these. It makes you more accountable.

Q5. What’s your goal for January?

By the end of January, we want a detailed plan to route how we will open up a permanent site by the end of 2017. That includes working out how much investment we need, how we can renovate a spark for getting that, when we start training staff, whether we use a crowdfunder campaign and when that will run... We want to get those milestone dates known at the end of January. It’s a lot of project management - but that’s the level of detail we’re working towards.

Q6. Any idea what you will spend the money on?
Our focus for 2017 is opening our permanent site. So whether the money goes towards completing our re-branding, a new marketing campaign to engage people with the brand more, or that next series of pop-ups… we’ve got a lot of plans coming up to grow!

Find out what Chuku’s are up to next on their website and Twitter, or leave your message from Emeka and Ifeyinwa in the comments below.