I always wanted to be an entrepreneur – my father has been an entrepreneur and self-made since the age of 16, one of the many attributes I have always admired about him. I got my chance to see if I could fill those shoes in London when I was offered through my clients a chance to develop and run a new restaurant concept by a few investors.
I created, developed and launched the healthy pizza concept, PANZO, doing absolutely every part of a start-up from concept to launch to growth. I had the entrepreneurial ‘bug’ and there was no way to go back. It was only a matter of a new idea; and when that next idea came, Frank Porter was born.
I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and migrated to Toronto, Canada at the age of 10. I was raised in an artistic family, with art, music and dance playing an important role in my upbringing. However, I believed I was destined to work in banking, and ended up studying finance at McGill University.
I was hired as a private banker for Rothschild in Geneva, Switzerland, where I came to realise that investment comes in many forms – including into art. This took me to London, England where I did a Masters in Art History and continued to work with clients but focused on art investment. I ended up working with Sotheby’s and afterwards with auction house Phillips, helping clients secure beautiful art.
My approach is to dream big, take risks and not be afraid to make mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn and the easier it is to bounce back.
Highs and lows
Mostly due to my age, I have been lucky not to have any real lows. But at the same time, I am still waiting for my first huge high. Frank Porter, the Airbnb management company we founded in Dubai, is making strong ground and I will be hugely proud if we are able to scale this idea globally over time.
Do’s & don’ts
My three principles that I always circle back to are the following: always focus on solutions not problems, always create a positive business environment where people will want to work, and above most, always be fair. Businesses without these principles will crumble over time.
In terms of things to avoid, I would always say to first time entrepreneurs to not compromise on quality, don’t overthink things, and most importantly, don’t cheat or lie. Finally, it is important to not worry too much about the future – at the end of the day, everything can change
so it’s important to enjoy the ride.