Va­leriy Khart­man: “We will soon say ‘We're ev­ery­where', like they do in the Fight Club movie”

The Ukrainian Week - - SOCIETY -

Va­leriy came from Luhansk to Kyiv in 2012. Af­ter see­ing the Rus­sians in­vad­ing his land, he could not stay aside. For sev­eral years, he served in Ai­dar bat­tal­ion. He was then wounded and went through hos­pi­tal and posthos­pi­tal treat­ment. Cur­rently, Va­leriy is build­ing Veter­ano Cof­fee, a network of cof­fee houses in Kyiv. Va­leriy had a dream to own a restau­rant styled af­ter old Amer­i­can movies since he was a child. He got back to the dream be­cause of the war. Once de­mo­bi­lized, he had to deal with em­ploy­ment prob­lems and had con­flicts with his bosses. Fur­ther de­pres­sion and lonely life in a hos­tel for about a year made him re­al­ize he could count only on him­self. This is how Va­leriy got the idea to open a small cof­fee house. He could use his pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence back from the time when he had been work­ing at pubs. His state com­pen­sa­tion for the in­juries in­curred in war con­sti­tuted his start-up bud­get. His wife be­came his first busi­ness part­ner. They met at the hos­pi­tal. “I lacked self-con­fi­dence be­fore the war, but my ex­pe­ri­ence as a fighter helped me re­lax,” Va­leriy re­calls. I was lucky to meet Leonid Ostalt­sev. To­gether we have de­vel­oped a new brand. Va­leriy's ap­proach is based on high qual­ity. He prefers to have lower profits only to be able to buy more ex­pen­sive prod­ucts than those of his com­peti­tors. Peo­ple liv­ing close to his cof­fee places have no­ticed that. A long queue lines up to his cof­fee place on the bank of Tel­bin lake, al­though a dozen sim­i­lar kiosks are nearby. The lo­cals have even set up a bench near Va­leriy's cof­fee house. “It is dif­fi­cult to com­pete with big com­pa­nies, but we don't give up,” Va­leriy says. Ac­cord­ing to him, pref­er­en­tial points of sale would make things much eas­ier. A sim­i­lar scheme is now used in Dnipro. Busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties would re­duce the num­ber of ATO veter­ans who risk tum­bling into al­co­holism or thug for hire life. “Num­bers, taxes and book­keep­ing will keep your head free from bad thoughts,” Va­leriy adds. He is will­ing to share his knowl­edge of cof­fee busi­ness with all the veter­ans in­ter­ested in it. His ad­vice is not to sit back and do noth­ing, but to start do­ing some­thing. While The Ukrainian Week was work­ing on this ma­te­rial, Valery has man­aged to open an­other cof­fee place and en­gage his war buddy who is go­ing to cook brown­ies and other desserts to go along with cof­fee. Va­leriy plans on ex­pand­ing his network and en­gage more veter­ans.

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