Lost and Founded Series - Arrif Ziaudeen

Arrif Ziaudeen says he’s just some lucky guy that gets to hang out at Chope and discover new restaurants every day. We’re inclined towards believing him.


Author: DBS BusinessClass, Administrator of DBS

Chope's 2nd logo: Much better than their 1st

Arrif Ziaudeen says he’s just some lucky guy that gets to hang out at Chope and discover new restaurants every day. And we’re inclined towards believing him. The CEO of The Chope Group - Singapore’s leading online restaurant reservation site – is motivated by what his team at Chope goes through day and night to ensure the satisfaction of their restaurants and users and he never wants to let them down. Ever. Believing that a small handful of thoroughly committed people can change the world, Arrif is inspired by leadership through service, time spent doing what he loves with no regrets and life lessons from ‘Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back.’

People say you are “Arrif Ziaudeen, CEO of The Chope Group". Who do you say you are?

I'm just some lucky guy that the talented Chope team let hang out with them and discover new restaurants every day.

Best moment in your start up life. It was so good you wanted to fly BusinessClass somewhere with someone, and pop open the most expensive bottle of champagne there.

When we received the first cheque from our first paying customer years ago. To this day, our customers don't understand just how much we love them for their support.

What secret did you hide from your co-founder or partner or parent for the longest time? Why?

I used to share all my ups and downs with my wife, who is super supportive of my career choice. But over the years I've learnt that it's healthy to separate home and work. So, I don't exactly keep "secrets" from her but for the last 2 years I've avoided talking about work. If I need to, we actually schedule a meeting for it (seriously).

What's the most eccentric thing about you? If VCs found out, they won't have signed the term sheet then. But hell with that now.

That I'm always the last person to arrive at the office in the morning. In my defence, I'm also always the last guy out of the office. It's precisely the reason I love start up life, "facetime" truly doesn't exist - you get stuff done anytime & anywhere, not 9-to-5 in a cubicle.

Have you ever cried? Or what was the lowest, crappiest moment in your start-up life. You wanted to give up everything. You wanted to kill someone. (During your start up career of course) Tell us more!

Long before we had a team, customers or investors, I was just a guy with an idea. The first physical manifestation of Chope was our logo, which cost $60 to design. I decided on the logo one morning and showed it to my wife (then girlfriend), who gave me honest feedback... she hated it. Bear in mind that I had just quit my job, been ridiculed by friends and hadn't slept in weeks, so it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I collapsed. We've since changed our logo.

What are you up to today? What gets you up in the morning?

Saturday: Work, gym, lunch, work, party. What gets me up? Usually my baby daughter.

How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit for start-up life?

I do my best to keep worries (of which there are hundreds) in day-tight compartments. I visualize a ship. It has compartments that can be sealed to prevent water in one compartment from flooding another. So I try and focus my worries on the few items I'm prioritizing today, come up with "next steps" and execute them before I end the day. Sure there are other worries, but those are in a different compartment.

Offer a life hack (or two) to a young founder.

Always keep a suit jacket at the office. But never wear a tie, unless the other guy's wearing one.

Movie or song that best describes you.

The Empire Strikes Back. Because that stuff on Dagobah is true in entrepreneurship. Trying vs doing. Being your own worst enemy. Mentors being the people you least expect. Also because if you don't know what I'm talking about, we probably can't be friends.

Favourite quote.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Who and what inspires you?

It's my team at Chope. I watch what they go through day & night to ensure our restaurants and users are happy. It reminds me every day why we do this, and inspires me to leadership through service. If I'm pulling at all-nighter, it's because I don't want to let them down.

Tell me about Arrif in 2030.

He hover-bikes into the Chope office on Mars not looking not a day over 35. Seriously though, he'd still be inspired by the people he works with, doesn't worry too much about money, and has no regrets as he'd spent his only youth doing what he loved/loves.

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