Konstantin, 32, a high-end chocolate maker, has some pretty simply advice for people that want to start their own company. ''If you are going to open a business, make sure it is like a pastry - something that people need every day. It can't be something abstract.'' Konstantin worked for major international and Russian companies for nearly a decade before taking a risk in May 2012 to start his own company trading cacao beans called 'Bob Cacao,' the Russian word 'bob' meaning bean. ''I knew that if I didn't do it now, I will get stuck in a corporate career.'' Within weeks of quitting his job - and with a financial cushion that was equivalent to about two months salary - Konstantin found out his wife was pregnant with their first child. ''There was no turning back,'' he said. Business got off to a rough start. As trading imported chocolate beans has no 'moat,' competitors quickly appeared. ''We were struggling to survive. I had a dilemma - either close my business or produce chocolate so that I can't be copied.'' Konstantin decided the later and now produces cacao-rich chocolate bars called 'Britarev' using a 19th century process. His first chocolate was produced in his apartment. Now he has a spot near the center of the city. He sells his chocolate to speciality stores in Russia, presents it at various Moscow events and is looking to export to the west. Our earnings ''are not ideal, but we are moving forward.''
KHABAROVSK: Evgeny and his younger brother were touching up their new bar ‘Loft’ in Khabarovsk early on a February weekday evening. They had just held what they called ‘a pre-opening’ event a few days before, but still needed to do some work before fully opening.
The clean, simple bar had black and white portraits of Cubans on the wall. Small tables and couches were placed in various corners of the bar. Evgeny said his father made some of the bar’s furniture.
Jazz music played in the background. Evgeny says he likes Jazz and Blues and that his favorite musician in this genre is Karl Frierson….
SAMARA: Kostya has been working for one of the world’s largest oil producers for the past decade, but, despite the good benefits, he said he had been itching to do something on his own. A few years ago, he said he watched a video about opening a barbershop while drinking wine that really made him think…and act.
Igor, 24, has owned a bar, cleaned up cemeteries and developed an app for an iPhone in his varied working career in Vladivostok. Now he has opened a fashion boutique featuring some of his own creations. He says he has more ideas for businesses, but it is tough getting support from his family. ''My parents don't understand me,'' he said. ''They are from the Soviet period and I am from the capitalist period. They say 'Why don't you go get a government job? But us children of the 1990s - we are grown up and have some money to start our own businesses.''
Dmitry, 36 and a father of two, is among many from the former USSR that have moved to Dubai – at least temporarily – in search of new and better opportunities. Go into any major hotel or shopping center and you have a good chance that a Russian-speaker will service you.