We stopped by the venue of Joker No.19, one of the successful businesses of Istanbul, in the center of Beşiktaş for you. The company, which continues its successful service in Beşiktaş without breaking its line in Beyoğlu, has a very large and spacious place.
The welcoming and smiling faces of the operators and employees that make you feel at home are astonishingly natural and warm…
Could you briefly tell us about your business? When was it founded, what did you think when you started this business?
I founded it when I was 22, in 2002, when I was still a student. We set out on two common paths… Maybe I was even hungry to spend less money because I spent too much money on alcohol. Because Joker was opened with a very small capital. I started with something like $300, and as our earnings increased, we developed the business. When we first started we were making less than a waiter. Then we were loved and gradually we grew up.
So, Why Joker?
Joker was a gaming cafe when we first opened it. A cafe where games that never existed in Turkey are played. When it first opened, we were in a 35 m2 shop in Beyoğlu. Then, gradually, as we grew, so did our space. At first we created simple sandwiches, after the catering service started, we opened a branch in Caddebostan, and improved its cuisine a bit. When we moved to Beşiktaş, we moved the kitchen a little more and the cocktails got better. After I had a child, we switched to a concept where people with children could also come. In the future, the Joker will perhaps become a retirement home. We make jokes about it from time to time. As our age grows, the venue will also grow…
What is the most important feature that makes your business different from other businesses?
We are constantly trying to renew ourselves, we never say “yes we are”. Even now, we think we have only done 20 percent of what we can do. Our aim is to do better and not to say that I have been. Things are good right now, maybe because we are a business that came out of Beyoğlu, that is, Beyoğlu venue, everything may be perfect today, but it may not be tomorrow. That’s why you have to work and not stop. We need to renew ourselves. For this, we invest and enable our employees to improve themselves by participating in trainings abroad.
How many branches do you have, do you plan to open in other cities?
We currently have 2 branches. No, we do not plan to be in another province. Incidentally, I want to say that what makes us, this shop different from others, is that we did not open it to make money. We opened this place to be happy. You can’t make money just by thinking commercially. Joker was created to try to make people happy.
Well, let’s change our question like this. What do you need to do well in this sector? What would you recommend to new entrepreneur candidates who want to enter the sector?
You have to have done this. For example, even if an experienced employee from another place comes to me, Joker always starts with the dishes. Every level must be seen. It can be understood why that person always wants to go out for a cigarette, you don’t get angry when you wash the dishes and why the glass breaks when it breaks. Because you’ve broken a lot of glasses too, and that’s how you can understand why. You experience the same things, you learn not to get angry. You know what can be done right and what can be wrong. That’s why everyone here thinks I’m a waiter, no one understands that I’m the boss. I’m happy like that, I don’t want them to say I’m the boss.
What would you recommend to new entrepreneur candidates who want to enter the sector?
They will work hard at first, they need to know that. There is no such thing as a boss world. You become the boss for 1-2 years, then you look for a new job. In our industry, it is usually the case, it is thought that the boss is underworked. But the bosses have to be the most employees. According to my philosophy and perspective, bosses should work harder. By installing the right systems, working hours can be reduced, but still not completely avoided.
Why did you choose Arkhe?
It’s like the Joker philosophy… It’s always necessary to improve. We used 5-6 different software in the past, but there is always better, we cannot ignore it. If there is something better, we need to do it. This is how we do everything… We buy and use whatever is good, which will make our work easier without even waiting for the dishwasher to break down. I am actually a mathematician. I’m a physics engineer, but I like math more. I really like Arkhe’s reports. With the statistics I have obtained, I can see more clearly the places that I missed during the operation. If something is wrong, I can easily detect it in the reports.
What did this choice bring to your business?
It is not correct to analyze the report you received linearly. If we evaluate it in this way, comments such as “This is like this, it would be better if it was like this”. Having detailed reports ensures that the action plan you will take is credible. If your basis is not clear with the data, your credibility will be lost. I’ve been in this business for 17 years. If you add my previous works in other places, I have been doing this job for 22 years. Most people choose not to believe. For example, let me give an example of increasing the prices of some recent products. I say that an increase of 2 lira is a very significant figure. When there is an increase of 2 liras, I know how much the daily sales of those products have decreased and people have turned to other products. Everything seems to be in these reports. Everything has a measure. I always say, for example, they give Gin Tonic for 60 liras. I don’t… If they give me 60 liras, I’ll drink one. If they give you 45 liras, I’ll drink 3 of them. We see the truth from the program. If you make a raise in your head, you can’t win. When everything is in accordance with the data, after a while, you also see the demand and that you are preferred. Arkhe is a very talented company in these details, I chose it because it met my managerial needs.