If you know me, you know I love my food, whether its home-cooked or takeaway I don’t discriminate. Hubby says in that way I’m a bit like a man. The way to my heart is through my stomach. He’s learned to cook and has now surpassed me in talent. Nonetheless we do enjoy eating out and if its a bargain even better. Thankfully, some Trini dishes have a counterpart in Mauritius, so we have similar taste in food. When I heard about the new app Chopstreets which specialises in listing African and Caribbean eateries in the UK, my ears perked up. I had the opportunity to ask their founder Vivan Ngwodo a few questions. This is her interview.
TTT: Tell us a bit about yourself. Was it your dream to become an entrepreneur?
VN: I was born and raised in Nigeria before relocating to the U.K in 2010 to commence a Post-graduate degree. Before that, I worked previously with Intercontinental Bank Plc for 4 years. This was right after graduating from Covenant University, Nigeria in 2006 where I studied Accounting. From day one at Covenant University, we were taught the principles of Entrepreneurship; It was a part of our curriculum. So, being an entrepreneur is something I have always had at the back of my mind. I experimented with a few things but I got bored easily. However, in 2014 I discovered Web Design and I fell in love with it. After work each day, I spent hours on the internet teaching myself how to design websites. I did some free jobs for friends in order to build my portfolio. When I landed my first paid client, I was excited. It felt good to be paid for something I considered as a hobby back then. At about this time, I knew that anything I decided to do would revolve around technology (and food) so I decided to undergo an internship with a digital start-up in London to enhance my skills and learn more about launching and running a tech start up. Since then I have been designing websites and providing digital solutions for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the food industry, in addition to my day job. More recently, I have launched the Chopstreets App which I hope to monetise in the near future.
TTT: What was the first Nigerian dish you missed, and why?
VN: Pounded Yam and Ogbonno Soup. Growing up, my mum always made it in a very special way. You could taste the love and labour that went into the preparation of this dish. This is one meal I can eat at any time of the day.
TTT: Would you say Chopstreets could be the cure for expat homesickness, for Africans and West Indians?
VN: Yes! Absolutely, especially for the busy city workers who have no time on their hand. The app instantly shows you African and Caribbean restaurants and takeaways near you. Some of the listed businesses also offer online delivery. You can easily go through the listings by regions/cuisines. With Chopstreets, you never have to worry about hunting for Afro-Caribbean food in the U.K. What’s more, you can share your dinning experiences on the app to help other users.
TTT: What has been the best feedback you have had so far from someone who’s never tried African or West Indian cuisine before?
VN: It was from an Italian guy who found a Nigerian Supper Club event through my Instagram page and totally enjoyed the food which happened to be his first time trying out Pounded Yam and Egusi Stew. He said he will eat his way through Africa right here in London ?
TTT: What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs who want to get into app development?
VN: Do not be afraid. Go for it but be ready to learn, learn and learn more. With tech, things are always changing at a fast pace so you will need to be on top of your game. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be ready to improve on what you already know.
You can find Chopstreets on all the usual social media channels, bon appetit!