Bachelor project foundation for cosy Copenhagen café

04 February 2019

Network and ask for help, if you are considering starting your own business. The advice is from Christian Kronborg and Vivien Vadkerti, who both studied International Hospitality Management, and opened their own café during the summer of 2018.

On Nørrebrogade 28 in Copenhagen you’ll find the city's cosiest café. At least, that is what Christian and Vivien want their café to be.

- We really wanted a place that embodies the best part of being Danish – which is hygge, Christian explains.

Just like Granny’s house

The place certainly lives up to its name – Café Hygge. Its interior is a great mix of old Royal Copenhagen plates, ceramic cups, old chairs and tables, velvet lampshades, and, of course, candles on every table.

- We got much of the furniture for free, Christian says and continues;

- some it has a few scratches, but it's quaint and helps create the atmosphere. It kind of reminds you of your grandmother's house.

Vivien and Christian want their café to be a space where guests feel welcome, can relax, and feel comfortable.

- We think hygge is very much about socializing, Christian says.

That is why Café Hygge hosts several events, like live music, quiz nights, poetry readings, etc.

Bachelor project provided courage to start café

Both Christian and Vivien had thoughts about starting their place when they were students, but none of them felt confident about doing it on their own, despite both of them having experience from the restaurant business.

But when they met on the bachelor programme International Hospitality Management at Nørrebro, they agreed to use their bachelor project to test their idea for a café. That ended up giving them a sense of what it would take.

- Our bachelor project confirmed that our idea was doable, at least in theory, Christian says and continues;

- but it is something entirely different when you're out there in the real world. As a student, you can always make a new budget or do a re-exam. You can't do that as a business owner. The consequences are so much greater if you make a mistake.

Christian also explains that as a business owner himself, he’s gained a new perspective on management in the restaurant business.

- I've not worked for many good managers when I was a waiter, but today I realize that they might have been under a lot of pressure as owners and have had to reach certain budget targets, he says.

As a business owner, you have a lot of responsibility. Besides decorating the place and hosting events, you have to be on top of finances, put together a menu, provide good customer service, etc. Vivien is therefore very mindful of what she learned during her studies.

- I work with numbers every day, like when I have to calculate costs, profits, etc. I also draw on some of the theory on management and HR, when we have to hire and train new staff, she says.

Things take time

When Christian and Vivien graduated, they spent 6 months looking at different locations. And finding the right place was not easy.

- We had to adjust our vision, as we couldn’t find a place that matched our expectations, Christian explains.

Early on, however, they did find a location on Frederiksberg and spent almost 6 months on paperwork with the municipality.

- We spent a lot of time applying for various permits. That’s something you don’t learn as a student – how long things actually take, Vivien explains.

Finally, the location was sold to someone else.

- We felt like we had wasted all of this time. But we agreed to keep looking, because we still wanted to have our place and then we just driving around Copenhagen, looking at locations, Christians says.

One day Christian and Vivien found a location on Nørrebro. They called the owner and arranged to see the place the next day.

- Today it’s our café and we are so happy with it, Vivien says.

The power of asking for help

Christian and Vivien are very aware of the importance of asking for help.

- It is important to reach out to your network because that's how we got here, Christian explains.

According to him, if you want to start your own business, networking and being willing to ask for help is essential.

- Reach out to your competitors; reach out to your friends and old fellow students. Then, when you have found a solution to your problem, share it, and offer advice to others. Listen to those who have made it, who are successful, and copy their behaviour, Christian says.

Be honest with yourself

Vivien agrees and adds:

- I would also advise people considering starting their own business to really think about the many aspects of being a business owner. Consider different scenarios, imagine different situations - things never really end up the way you plan - and ask yourself, if you really want to do this. If your gut instinct tells you no, then don’t do it. But if your gut tells you yes, then go for it.

Find Café Hygge on Nørrebrogade 28 and read more about their events at the Facebook page.