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