Founder Focus: Dominic and Oliver of Crispin
Meet entrepreneurs and founders, Dominic Hamdy and Oliver Hiam, friends and business partners since University.
In 2013, the two launched Scotchtails and shortly after secured a pitch at Borough Market and were listed in Selfridges and Wholefoods. Then, in 2015, they opened the small but sweet Scandi cafe, Lundenwic.
This year, the friends have launched their third venture, Crispin; a new all-day and all-night cafe in a purpose-built geometric pavilion that resembles an origami-folded kite, 5 minutes’ walk from Liverpool Street station.
Without further ado, we caught up with them to talk all things brunch…
WHAT WAS YOUR EUREKA MOMENT?
There wasn’t one particular moment, to be honest. Crispin is the result of an organic growth in experience and confidence from a humble market stall in Soho to the site we’ve just opened in Spitafields. We enjoy eating and drinking (who doesn’t!), and have a love for design, spaces and experiences. Crispin is very much a personal projection of this.
DID YOU TRIAL CRISPIN IN ANY WAY?
Having Lundenwic, our first cafe which has been open for three years near Covent Garden, has given us the ability to test certain elements of Crispin on a smaller scale. It’s great to now be able to put these ideas into practice in a more experimental and larger scale environment.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Try and find a likeminded business partner who shares your vision and passion. It’s very daunting facing all the challenges on your own. Oli and I have been good friends since university and was the obvious choice. We don’t always agree, but know that we are always honest and upfront with each other.
HAVE YOU HAD A BUSINESS MENTOR?
We have had a two great mentors since we first started Scotchtails almost five years ago, and they have been invaluable. Mentors will give impartial advice, drawing on their own experiences of success and failure. No one knows your own business like you do, and it’s important to be confident in your own decisions, but sometimes you can be too invested in the detail and need someone from outside to offer a completely different angle.
WHAT BOOK WOULD YOU RECOMMEND EVERYONE READS?
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat will make you think about cooking in a completely new way. Everybody should read it.
WHAT IS THE MOST WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT THAT YOU’VE MADE?
We have so many ideas and avenues we would like to explore but each one requires energy… and money. The more energy you invest in each idea the more progress you’ll see, but it’s all about balance. Stepping away from the day-to-day running of the business from time to time is as important as being there to oversee and manage things.
WHAT ONE FAILURE ARE YOU GLAD YOU EXPERIENCED?
We started wholesaling our scotch eggs (Scotchtails) far too prematurely. We had no experience in wholesale business, didn’t understand what a good wholesale product was and didn’t have the appropriate infrastructure. We eventually made it a success, so no real regrets and it’s no bad thing to make mistakes so long as you learn from them!
WHAT PIECE OF INDUSTRY ADVICE DO YOU OFTEN HEAR AND DISAGREE WITH?
Everyone has different advice to give – you have to pick and choose which you would like to take, but also listen as much possible. And don’t be too upset to receive negative feedback. Most people want to be supportive, even if their comments are not wholly positive.