On Thursday evening I was at the Vancouver Club with a room full of budding young entrepreneurs
yeah, I know what was I doing there?to hear Vikram Vij give an empowering and heartfelt talk about his success story and what it took to get him where he is today.
From growing up in India, to training in Austria to finally making a home in Vancouver with three successful restaurants, a food truck, a cookbook, curry products sold in many stores across Canada and drumroll….having been one of the judges on Dragon’s Den – it’s been a humble and intriguing journey.
The people in the room were from the Pacific Club which is a group that connects and inspires Vancouver’s young professionals. There were some very interesting people. One of them was my friend Paul Davidescu who has a startup venture called Tangoo (the pocket concierge app for organizing the perfect outing to help bring people together in social and network gatherings). Tangoo was recently featured on Dragon’s Den, was given an offer which they turned down and after that Paul approached Vikram who then decided to help finance the company which is turning out to be a success story in it’s own right. Vikram said he invested in the person, not just the idea. He was sold on Paul’s enthusiasm and belief in the enterprise. It’s not just a money making venture for him.
It was refreshing to hear him speak because Vikram believes that it’s about building relationships. It should not occur to you to make business a means to only make money. Put your love, passion and desire into your business – if you don’t create the most flavourful dish and put effort into everything that goes into it, it’s like dating a beautiful woman but there’s no chemistry. All the ingredients have to be balanced.
He believes in working together. You always need somebody next to you in order to become successful – a partner, friend, someone who understands where you’re coming from and believes in you. Very important!
When someone tells him his food is terrible (like that ever happens) – he likens it to hurting as much as someone telling you that you have an ugly child. It is taken to heart.
His food philosophy is similar to that of living in an Indian village – buy local. He prefers to buy produce, fruit and wine where they are grown. We are so lucky here in British Columbia. We have an ocean that produces sustainable seafood, produce and wines from the Okanagan and the Fraser Valley. We need to know that what we have here is incredible. He used the spices that come from India together with local fare to create an interesting mix which turns out to be a pleasing combination.
Learn from the best mentors. Don’t think you know it all. Always be a student and a sponge – learn from people. No one is above another. You can learn something from everyone. Pierre Elliott Trudeau once came into his restaurant and waited in line like everyone else. An example is if he could wait so could everyone else. If you have nothing to talk about for 30 to 45 minutes chilling & hanging out at the back of the restaurant what are you doing out eating with this person anyway?
Travel the world, go to different parts to experience the local cuisine and music. When you sit together, eat together and you enjoy each others company you can talk about anything. Guns and Politics will never help to solve the problems of the world. Music & Cuisine bring people together. On another musical note, RIP “King of the Blues” BB – I’m so lucky to have heard you and your beautiful Lucille live on stage at the CNE in Toronto many years ago.
New for Vikram: Rangoli (next to Vij’s) – is a brand new concept restaurant. Instead of expanding Vij’s which would have been simpler he created something different. He always chooses to create fresh ideas & new concepts. My Shanti in South Surrey is also totally different from the other two. Vij’s Railway Express is a take on Indian street food – excellent examples of Indian Fare that’s a bit of a stretch from the “all too familiar” dishes like Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka.
Sound advice from a pro – I think I’ll take that to heart.
check out the Tangoo App here: https://tangoo.ca/
Where to buy Vij’s 15 varieties of frozen curry products: http://www.vijs.ca/where-to-buy/