They own the most little café in Poland. This is confirmed even by the Book of Records of Poland. Total surface of their café is no more than 6 square meters. However in the tiniest place one can have the finest coffee.
Oleh and Inna Yarovi came to Warsaw two and a half years ago from Kyiv and decided to open the café and serve not only good coffee but good spirit. Name of their brand “Dobro&Dobro” translates as “Kindness&Kindness”.
How did your story in Poland begin?
The story of Dobro&Dobro began in 2015. My husband and I moved from Kyiv to Warsaw at the end of 2015. I was invited by the Google Partners company, which I had worked for. It is true that we immediately decided to start our own business. We looked into our hearts and thought about what we would like to do. We decided that it would be a café and indeed, we managed to open one after two months. Finding a place for the café was the biggest challenge, and we spent the most time on that. With time our café was granted the status of the smallest café in Poland, which we managed to confirm later on, and we managed to get our Dobro&Dobro café included in the book of records. This was how our greatest disadvantage, that is the café’s small surface area, became our greatest advantage.
What problems, difficulties did you encounter besides looking for a place for the café?
Looking for the right space was really the biggest problem, because at that time we did not know any real estate agents in Warsaw, and we did not know the city well enough to be able to choose a “good location” for the café. We had no experience, and there was nobody we could ask. I cannot single out the biggest obstacles from among those that we encountered, because everything was new to us. We chose a strategy of taking things step by step, and so we developed gradually. When we were opening our next cafés, it seemed less complicated because we knew what to expect. Right now we own three cafés: in Warsaw, in Lublin, and in Wroclaw. We chose the strategy of developing our chain of cafés through franchising.
Why did you choose franchising?
We started preparing everything a year before, we devoted a lot of time and energy to creating and describing standards in the franchising project, which included all our experience and took into account all the mistakes we had once made. We signed the first franchising agreement at the beginning of 2018 with Lublin.
When a brand is developing, there are a few types of development. The first one is to open a café with your own funds. We did not have sufficient funds. Another way is to look for an investor. We started looking for an investor and held some negotiations, but we did not succeed. That is why we chose the third path of developing and expanding our business: through franchising. That is a more complicated path, as you need to create some standards and develop certain models. We began with registering our trademark, with branding. It took us one year from the moment we submitted the documents until the moment when we received the official documents. That was the first step. The second step was preparing and describing standards, and process standardization. The third step was supposed to be an advertising campaign, which we did not carry out, because as soon as we placed a post that said we were looking for partners, for franchisees, we immediately found them.
What “internal” criteria did you apply when you searched for partners to cooperate with?
Our criteria changed from the first franchise to the second one. Our first main criterion was that the person, our partner, should have a willingness to act, and that he or she would sympathize with us. It turned out that this was not enough. It is important that a franchisee understand that it is hard work, that they are not buying a key for a safe that they can open every month and take money out of. First of all, it is work, hard work, and the franchisee must expect from the beginning that it will be difficult. They are not buying ready-made solutions. It demands devotion and hard work.
Are the cafés that were founded as franchises developing according to the same strategy as the café in Warsaw?
Those new cafés are different. Their development strategy is slightly different. The first café in Warsaw, as the smallest one in Poland, was built around two people: me and my husband. The cafés in Wroclaw and Lublin have to focus on product quality, the menu, and high level of service. We are happy with the results and the pace of development of our cafés, but we know that they have an even greater potential. We are maximalists, so we always want better results.
Besides the Dobro&Dobro project you do other business projects as well…
Yes, I do have other two startups: the ethno-brand called Kolyskay, and an e-commerce startup. The e-commerce startup is a Polish-Ukrainian advertising agency, which has been operating for two years already. The main office is located in Kyiv and we have many famous clients such as Pepsi and Danone. I run this agency together with my partner, who manages the agency in Kyiv. As for me, I do the promotion, development, and marketing. Right now we have more clients in Ukraine, but we try to act bilaterally, to promote, for example, a Polish company in Ukraine, or a Ukrainian one in Poland. We position ourselves as a Ukrainian-Polish agency. At present there are practically no such agencies in Ukraine that would promote Polish-Ukrainian enterprises.
The other startup is a Ukrainian ethno-brand called Kolyskay: bedding for children, created with the use of traditional Ukrainian motifs. We produce bedding at two factories in Ukraine, and the main office is located in Kyiv. We sell our bedding to various European countries, and to the United States. I am the co-creator of the Kolyskay brand with my partner Oksana Bohdanova, who manages the company in Ukraine and takes care of organizing the sales, while I am in charge of development, promotion, and brand PR. Kolyskay is an ethno-brand, because in our design we use traditional Slavic motifs, which we have made more modern. We sell more in Ukraine. You can buy our products in Poland, but we do not have a fixed-location shop for the time being.
You are also a vice-president of the Polish-Ukrainian Business Association. What is the main aim of this organization?
At the moment the association has over 50 members, companies that operate in various fields. These are companies of different sizes: from large corporations to small businesses like Dobro&Dobro. The goal of the organization is to create an alliance of Ukrainian companies operating in Poland. The association’s important role is to represent Ukrainian entrepreneurs in their dialogue with Polish authorities. Such an association allows one to fight for the interests of Ukrainian businesses more than it could be done by individual enterprises on their own. The organization was co-founded by a law firm called Eucon, which has been supporting various Ukrainian businesses in Poland for several years. The association organizes the Ukrainian Business Days in Poland twice a year, as well as Polish Business Days in Ukraine. We send our representatives to participate in various industry forums, depending on the industry.
Can you share a piece of advice or some of your own experience? How do you manage to do so many things, to develop several businesses at once, and to be a young mother at the same time?
It turns out somehow that I don’t have a hobby. My job is my hobby, which I devote the majority of my time to. I like what I do very much. I don’t find it difficult in any way. Working 24/7 is my rhythm, which makes me feel very good. I get a lot of support from my husband and my business partner Oleg, who understands my needs very well. This is my way of life. We like our job and we are happy to do it. We draw a lot of inspiration from our travels. For example, we introduce some elements that we saw somewhere on a trip into our own café. The notion of partnership is the basic notion in business, as well as in one’s personal life. The most important thing is to determine common goals, duties, and responsibilities: in family, and in business. Good communication is the basis for success. In my opinion, the main secret of success, both in business, and in our family, is that me and my husband discuss everything, we share each other’s emotions.
Have you ever thought about expanding your business to other countries and opening cafés not only in other Polish cities but also abroad?
Yes, we have, and we have even had offers, but at the moment we are focusing on strengthening our position in Poland. It is possible that in a year’s time we will consider such an option, but not now. We plan to develop the Dobro Box concept in future, to include food in our offer, as well as to create the Dobro Hub, which would be a worldwide business platform with the Warsaw Business Day as part of it. Our goal has been not only to inspire foreigners to act, but also to show from the practical side how to do certain things. This is why this meeting is organized in a workshop format. At present people call the Warsaw Business Day the main event of the year for foreign business in Poland. We want to confirm and develop that idea. I think it does not matter what your origin is, where you came from, but the most important thing is your thinking and your willingness to act.