Here on Whoot Africa, we not only showcase brands, but we also talk to the people behind those brands and have them share with us their back stories as well as give tips on how to successfully start and run a business.
Welcome to Whoot Africa’s – 15 Questions with the CEO.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and Chef Fregz as a brand you represent?
My name is Gbubemi Fregene, grew up in Benin City and went to secondary school in Osun State Olashore International School. Graduated BSc Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management from Covenant University and after my Youth Service in 2009 I started a small Barbeque and mini catering service called DVARD then mid-way set out to Paris where I received my diploma in Cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute.
Chef Fregz the brand started with my twitter handle, my surname is Fregene so… I was going to register Mr_Fregz but considered my expensive education and future I envisioned and changed it to Chef_Fregz and like they say the rest is history.
As a brand I represent the dining experiences that are unique and fine dining.
2. How did you get started in Business and what did it take for you to get to where you are today?
I started because I knew in my heart it was what I wanted to do. I literally just started. No business classes, no plans just told someone I could do xyz menu for them charged them a reasonable price that covered my cost and left me a little something and bit by bit it was one recommendation after the other and it took off. After coming back from France, I started doing something called Chef Fregz Special at a friend’s cafe in Opebi Cafe Licious and it was meant to be a one off. Halfway through the show people were asking for the date of the next one, that sparked something fresh and new so I jumped at it and as of now I have done 11. Also, through social media and generally meeting people I got the opportunity to pitch to Bellanaija to write a cuisine column and I got it and I have done it for over a year now.
3. What were you doing before Chef Fregz kicked off and why did you decide to start Chef Fregz?
I was serving in Kaduna working at a telecommunications firm. I decided to do it as Youth service ended because I knew it was either an office or my food. I sent an email to an uncle of mine and in one line he responded. Do your food.
4. Did you know you were going to be an Entrepreneur all along or did it happen by chance?
Half and Half to be honest! I thought I would work for a bit before launching fully. However, my passion overthrew me and I just went for it.
5. What do you love most about your business and your life as an Entrepreneur?
I love the fact that my business is very flexible I can do so much not just necessarily cooking. Also, watching business grow from scribbles in your notepads and images in your sleep to actual prospering productive lines is a priceless feeling.
6. What keeps you and the Chef Fregz team motivated?
The fact that we always need to be better than the last event!
7. What do you think are the most important personal skills someone must have to be successful in business?
Know how to speak to people, know how to treat people respectfully, know how to plan, do a simple profit and loss account book and master the art of negotiation.
8. How do you envision the Chef Fregz brand in 5-10years from now?
I see the Chef Fregz brand opening a few highly rated high end restaurants and at least two outside Nigeria. I see product endorsements and design and most definitely a training school
I see us taking up space in the forefront of a culinary revolution in Nigeria
9. What are the obstacles you encountered in your business journey and how did you overcome them?
My biggest obstacle has just been to wait really. Apart from the days where I failed at jobs were I took more than I could handle. Just waiting for my opportunity to showcase my own uniqueness was tough. I had days when I didn’t book a job in a whole month. I overcame by simply just using that time to plan and look to the future and be prepared for when time and chance collided and brought opportunity my way.
10. How would you describe your leadership style?
I am the manager who tried to carry the team along, then the autocrat when service starts!
11. Why did you choose this line of business/service or product and when did you know it was it for you?
I chose this line because I was passionate and just in love with haute cuisine and the proper chef life. I knew it was for me since I was 16! I just knew!
12. Who was the most influential person or mentor in your life?
It’s not one person! There’s my Mother Rosabella Fregene , My aunt Rosalind Umar and my grandfather Prof A.B Kasunmu
13. What was the BIGGEST risk you’ve taken?
Serving a menu I cooked for the first time to paying customers!
14. What do you think about college education? Should kids go to college now or get into business if they feel it’s a better choice? Considering some of the world’s greatest never had college education, your thoughts?
Well, coming from a Nigerian home, college is as important as eating 3 meals a day. However, I would recommend that parent should encourage their kids to go to schools where their children’s passion, talents or skills can be directly sharpened so that they have an earlier start in business and stand a better chance at succeeding at it. College also has the advantage of networking. The Chef Fregz brand has thrived a lot on college and secondary school networks.
So whichever way you choose to look at it, a “college” education is key.
15. What would be the most important piece of advice you could give to young entrepreneurs and why?
Never do more than what you can with your given resources. Do not get greedy and want to make money quickly. It’s Quality over quantity. Pay the business first then yourself.
Always seek knowledge even beyond your scope of business.
Be nice to people!