Note: for any of you in Moldova you likely realize that we have been open for just over a month (if you didn't know that come visit us!! smokehouse.md for directions).
Smokehouse opened for business on Monday June 29th 2015. As you might imagine the trials of a new business have completely consumed my time (and still do) which is why this is the first time I'm getting a chance to make an update. The reality is that this date was just 12 days away from the 1 year anniversary of signing the lease to our Smokehouse location. It feels like it's time for me to write a bit about our journey.
Start to finish feels like 2 different lives separated by a very long, strange
road. ...one that evidently never passed a place where Matt thought "hey, maybe I
should consider a change of wardrobe." I guess something needs to stay the same.
If you've followed the blog in the last year you have some idea what an odd little adventure we've been on. Sadly I couldn't document every crazy story or experience and I feel like some good tales have been lost in the shuffle. With that said this seems to be a good time to start a bit of 'catch up.' In order to do that in a manageable way I'm going to try an commit myself to writing one blog update on the key topics listed below every week for the month of August.
The topics and a brief description are below but first I want to answer the question that most likely jumps to everyone's mind - would we do it again? We started out as idealists in many ways - determined to build a transparent, honest and (most importantly) strong business in a place many people said we couldn't. The reality, as you will see in the upcoming weekly updates, is far more sobering than any of us ever imagined. We all knew things would be hard but never quite imagined just how hard. We knew there would be corruption but we never guessed how deep it went. And we always knew that there was opportunity here but we never really knew just HOW MUCH there is. One year on I know I can say for the team that we would do it again in a heartbeat. We've run a tough race to get where we are but here is just the starting line - the real game is yet to come.
some days I wonder myself...
Now if you're looking for my recommendation as to whether you should also start a business here I can't give that straight. We're still too new and there are too many things that we don't fully understand to give that kind of advice to anyone. I firmly believe in the opportunity here... and in Moldova's ability to try and crush good things as quickly as it can find them. If you're brave and a little crazy I can say only that we'd welcome you at our bar and would be thrilled to talk over the process and connect you to any kind of resources we can to get you going. Moldova needs entrepreneurs and business people who are vocally working for a better environment here. Just as a rising tide floats all boats any entrance into a market this under-leveraged is nothing but good for everyone involved... if you're crazy enough to try.
With no further ado -
Topics for the Year In Review
1.) 5 Things You Didn't Know About Corruption in Moldova
A beginner's guide. This will be a crash course both in our experience with corruption in Moldova and an overview of how it works. As a hint I can say that things are likely both different and worse than you think. A question I get often is if people ask us for bribes frequently or try and shake us down. The answer is no (once in a year). The reality of corruption here is far more systemic. Stay tuned.
2.) The Problem With Suppliers or Why Starting a Business in Moldova is a GREAT IDEA (no sarcasm)
Trying to use the equation "I have money, you have product, let's form a relationship" in Moldova is a failing proposition. Suppliers are (mostly) terrible as are wholesalers and most stores. We have some laugh and cry stories about how hard people have worked to avoid taking our money as well as some lessons about a developing economy like this one. Bottom line? Many businesses here are vulnerable to competition and society as a whole will celebrate you putting them out of their misery... if you have what it takes to get started.
3.) Registering an SRL - New Perspectives
A post co-written with a guest contributor about the various different ways to organize an SRL and the flexibility that actually exists behind the "No" which the state registration office returns after any question.
4.) Banking Part 2 or How and Industry Destroys Itself
Anyone familiar in passing with either customer service or good sense is unlikely to have much in common with Moldovan banks. Much of the blame for the system lies on the Moldovan government (and the American) but nonetheless things are pretty messed up. We'll have our updated recommendations for choosing a bank and trying to exist here as a company.
With that commitment to an update schedule (something I'm only willing to do after sipping a Litra Pale Ale - deadlines remind me far too much of college) I will end this post. We have been here a year. It's had ups and downs and some upside-downs. But we are still here. We are open. And we are far from done this experiment. Stay tuned for many more stories to come.