We talk to Poncho8 owner Nick Troen, about setting up his own burrito bar in London.
Tell us a bit about your business, Poncho8.
Poncho 8 has become one of London’s most successful new burrito bars having opened locations in St. Paul’s and Soho since the first unit next to Spitalfields in October 2009.
Started by Frank Yeung and Nick Troen, the first Poncho 8 in Spitalfields opened in September 2009 with the aim of being the first of a very profitable fast-casual Mexican chain with superior standards of food, service and style.
Defined by serving good quality, freshly-prepared burritos made to order in front of customers, staff at Poncho 8 are highly trained, with service considered equal in importance to food quality.
A distinct and quirky style sets Poncho 8 apart from its competitors with intricate interiors designed to look sleek and modern, while also colourful and vibrant, reflecting the contemporary Mexican food on offer.
Where did you get the idea to start it?
Frank and I were both in the USA in 2008 and noticed huge queues stemming from the burrito joints and tacquerias there.
A couple had started opening in London too, also with similarly long queues.
We ended up thinking that the UK market was a powder keg ready to go and we needed to get in there fast!
What were you doing before you set up Poncho8?
Frank was a trader at Goldman Sachs, Nick had worked at KPMG and the innocent smoothie company but was doing a master's at the LSE immediately before Poncho8.
Have you always wanted to be your own boss?
What have you enjoyed most about setting up your own business?
The great things about running your own business - freedom, leaving your stamp on the world, and hopefully at a latter stage the financial rewards of course) more than make up for it.
I've always been a desire to create and build something - working in finance and accounting was a very useful background to the numbers side of the business, but I'd wake up every morning thinking I've got to do something more creative with my time while I still can.
What were the major challenges you had to overcome when starting up?
Operations and logisitics - staff hiring, supplier sourcing, sorting the accounts, complying with HR laws health and safety etc.
It wasn't actually too difficult to raise the money required to set up the business
How have you been marketing your business?
Various means - heavey social media presence, twitter, FB, blogs, the lot.
We do occasional promos, but they're normally fun things, like giving away burritos to single people who come down on valentine's day. Try and avoid clichéd things.
What are your plans for the future?
More Poncho outlets in the City, and then perhaps more in locations further beyond.
Any tips for other budding entrepreneurs out there?
Get good advice (we still have a ridiculous amount to learn), do your research and don't give up.
Check out the tasty Mexican food on offer from Poncho8 at their website.