In a small way, we've changed UK culture : Paul Ettinger, Co-Founder of Caffe Nero
Updated on: 17 Nov 2015
Paul Ettinger has helped to fuel our addiction to coffee. As a supporter of National Mentoring Day, he says chemistry is vital for mentoring to work
What has your biggest achievement been in business? Co-founding Caffè Nero. To have created something that has touched millions of people's lives and has actually, in a small way, changed the culture of this country is fabulous. I'm continental by background, my parents were Austrian-German, and I was brought up partly in France, partly in Germany and partly in Austria. I always thought there were elements of those cultures that would be brilliant in this country, including coffee bars and that whole coffee experience. To have brought that to this country and have changed a bit of our culture is unbelievable.
The other really amazing thing is that we started Streetlife [a social network where users can interact with other people in their community] with very limited resources. No one had ever heard about community social networks: how do you describe something to someone that has never existed? We were incredibly lucky at times to have met certain people and have had help in certain ways. But to have survived is about a million to one – that's my guess.
What did you do to set Caffè Nero apart from the competition? Firstly, you can't ignore Starbucks because they are the giant. We knew they were always going to be the US brand with all the implications that has, positive and negative. So we wanted to be the European brand, specifically Italian; that was the way of separating us from Starbucks. But Costa was trickier in a way, because they were European.
So what we have tried to do is make the experience of coming into a Caffè Nero fun and warm, in a kind of Italian way – 70% of our customers are regulars. They come in and they know the staff and the staff know them – they know their name and what they drink.
Is there anything you would have done differently?