A new business with already 39 establishments, that got 15,000 franchise requests straight after opening and has people waiting in line for an hour and a half. What is the big secret of success of ChipStar in Italy?
ChipStar’s successful formula
Filippo Di Lorenzo initiator of ChipStar explains: ‘We exclusively offer chips to our customers, because I think we should aim for excellence. Devoting the greatest care to our chips, allows us to achieve the best quality. We focus on one product and the sauces provide tasty variations, while leaving the potato to take centre stage. We currently offer a choice of sixteen condiments for our chips, but we are planning to introduce some new products and offer an assortment of toppings.
I must also add that our on-demand production process highlights the fact that we are fresh food specialists. We cut the potatoes in front of the customer, which ensures them we only use fresh products. Maybe it is not 100% healthy because of the preparation process, but that does not make it any different from certain Italian dishes. The beauty of potatoes is that they offer the maximum in terms of taste, without consumers having to dig deep into their pockets.’
Entrepreneurship is taking risks
‘We initially thought long and hard before we got started,’ Filippo Di Lorenzo says. ‘Especially as the statistics we generated said it would fail. Would our investments be recovered? Could it be profitable? We did not expect to generate the thriving business we now have, but we did believe in our concept, in spite of everything. Now I think we managed to create something new, so much so that after the opening we received about 15,000 franchising requests!
“Loyal customers are willing to queue for an hour and a half, just to enjoy our product”
Expansion is going rather well. We are bringing ChipStar to a number of Italian cities. Currently we have 39 establishments in 10 cities. Profits are made straight away. Of course much depends on the location of the premises, since it is the passers-by who determine sales volumes. However, we do not underestimate our loyal customers who are willing to queue for an hour and a half, just to enjoy our product. It really has become an extraordinary success.’
Believe in your ideas. Nothing ventured, is nothing gained
Secret tot success
‘To sum up, we try to make the most of a simple product by offering our customers something exquisite and unique’, Filippo Di Lorenzo states. An excellent quality product and a skilful use of marketing are crucial to ChipStar’s success. He adds: ‘I think success depends on how you do things, not so much on what you do. We are not the first to make chips and we will not be the last. But we do it in the best possible way: with the best fryers that exist and with potatoes that are very rich in flavour, even though they aren’t the easiest variety to process.
For aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to know my secret, I would say: believe in your ideas. Believe in them and try them out. Because if nothing is ventured, nothing is gained and those who don't try, can only lose.
How ChipStar was conceived
Filippo Di Lorenzo is a qualified architect and a passionate lover of potato chips. The idea of opening a Dutch snack bar in Italy he conceived in Amsterdam in 2004, close to a famous and award-winning snack bar. Filippo Di Lorenzo: ‘I immediately thought it was a fantastic product! It had potential to adapt beautifully to the traditional Italian food culture. Italian food is highly evolved an varied, but everybody learns to appreciate chips as children.’ Back in Italy he felt the need to bring something new to the local culinary scene in Naples, something with a more international profile. ChipStar was born.
‘Our most obvious target group is young people, but we have customers of all ages. For the elderly eating chips is like going back to childhood. But I must admit I did not expect such an interest from Italian consumers’, Filippo Di Lorenzo concludes.