x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Money and me: mistakes provide food for thought

Charles Boghos is the owner and founder of ChezCharles, a Dubai-based online grocery store he set up to provide a one-stop gourmet shop for lovers of quality food and ingredients.

Charles Boghos, the owner and founder of the online food store ChezCharles, says good food is key to a happy life. Christopher Pike / The National
Charles Boghos, the owner and founder of the online food store ChezCharles, says good food is key to a happy life. Christopher Pike / The National

Charles Boghos is the owner and founder of ChezCharles, a Dubai-based online grocery store he set up to provide a one-stop gourmet shop for lovers of quality food and ingredients. Originally from Lebanon, Mr Boghos says he's made a number of financial errors, but life is too short to be always looking at a bank account.

Describe your financial journey so far.

Journey; what journey? It feels more like a roller-coaster ride, actually. I don't know why, but every now and then, I've decided to rock the boat and get new things going on. Of course, at my age, gaining experience, depth of knowledge and business maturity is more important than being rich. Money will come if you're on the right track; that's my belief.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I save enough to spend enough. Life is too short to just be looking at a bank account. I love to venture into new business opportunities, which sometimes give my bank account a 'slim fit'. But I can live with that. I hate to do nothing with a growing bank account. Life is full of enjoyment. My aim is to create as many happy moments as possible. If that requires money, so be it.

Have you made any financial mistakes?

Proudly! In fact, mistakes, whether financial or not, are always welcome as long as they're not repetitive. That's the best way to learn and to gain experience. Some multinational companies like to label mistakes as 'learnings'. I have a more conservative approach. I call it for what it is and if it is a mistake, it's OK to be done once. Twice becomes worrying. Three times...

What is your philosophy towards money?

In the world we live in, money is a funny word. Yes, it's like the Abba song. It means a lot to some people, but also doesn't mean much to others. To me, money is just a means to reach your goals, provided you have more important tools such as professional maturity, pragmatism and needed skills. Money is not what I am after; happiness and satisfaction is what drives me.

What has been your most valuable financial lesson?

I have been given several financial lessons, some of which are self-inflicted if I may call it that. However, the most valuable one is when I was a kid and my mother used to give me a certain amount every week and I had to manage my spend accordingly. It was very tough for me at the beginning to foresee the end of the week when it was still a Monday, but after a couple of 'bankruptcies' I learnt my lesson.

Where did your love of food come from?

I love life, I love nature and I live through my senses. That is simply the reason why I love food that much. However, food is too broad of a term. I am always after good ingredients that will give you excellent food. I strongly believe that if you eat well, you live well. Good food generates positive and happy moments and that is key to a happy life.

Is there demand for ordering food online?

ChezCharles is an online gourmet store, although I prefer to call it an online food market. It was set up based on a personal need for top-quality ingredients at an affordable price. Most of the products that we source have gone through several blind-tasting sessions and have been chosen based on the highest-quality criteria.

Why an online food store?

We all know how busy our lives are and trying to find all the needed ingredients for one dinner was, unfortunately, quite tiring in Dubai. You had to go to several places and, in most cases, you wouldn't find everything you were after. Therefore, the least hassle for our clients was for us to put everything in one place that is easily accessible and doesn't require much going around - and that is on the screen of their computers.

What has been your biggest financial challenge?

Back in 2002, I had managed to put some savings on the side. But, as I previously mentioned, I love to rock the boat and open up new horizons, so I decided to start my master's degree and put all my savings into it. After graduation, I had to rebuild my financial base from scratch.

What do you like to invest in?

In projects and products that I believe in, led by people that I trust.

Do you plan for the future?

Always. But to a certain extent, of course, you have to keep a close eye on the present. What is more important than planning for the future, though, is to have a clear vision of where and what you want to get to. All the rest becomes operational details that take you there.

What do you like to spend on?

Travelling in search of new culinary experiences is key to me. Discovering new markets, new restaurants, meeting food producers is my passion and, therefore, some of my spend goes there. On the other hand, pleasing family and friends is also key to me. I always like to share my happiness with the people I love, so some spend would be required in that direction as well.