Entrepreneur Media: An Interview by Jamie Allen
Entrepreneur, Father and International Traveler, Ricardo “Riki” Capone
He shares his insights into Starting a business, what it takes to sell that business and thriving on the global stage.
This article has its roots in England where I first met budding entrepreneur and business-man-to-be Ricardo Capone at a prestigious charity gala called Sports for Peace in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on the 25th July 2012. The reason for the Gala: To honor sporting legends for their lifetime achievements.
This charity gala was rather special for a number of reasons, not to mention that it played host to a range of guests including the famed guest of honor and boxing superstar, Muhammad Ali alongside football legend David Beckham, Sir Christopher Lee and rocker Bob Geldof but the event raised significant capital for the Muhammad Ali Foundation and Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons disease.
This event was held just two days before the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday 27th July 2012. An opening ceremony unforgettable by our interviewee today, Ricardo Capone. His company Goldie Horns Electroplating Ltd (the celebrity choice for jewelry and alternative gold, platinum and other metal electroplating services) had a special gift up their sleeve, the lavish gift being presented by Goldie Horns to the London Olympics for the opening ceremony was contributing 100% of the profits from that gift directly to the a fore mentioned charities.
Ricardo and his accompanies gift completely caught my eye, 204 Gold Covered Chicken Wishbones! That’s real chicken wishbones coated with a luxurious 24ct Gold. In British culture, snapping chicken wishbones with a friend is considered good luck. The number was very specific, 204. This was representative, one lucky chance for each nation participating in the 2012 games.
Fast-Forward 7 years and I finally had my chance to connect with Ricardo Capone for a long awaited interview. Of-course, without focusing on the past and how we met, I wanted to see where Ricardo was in his business and what his plans for the future are. The result, extremely surprising indeed. A success story that had not only outshone Ricardo’s expectations, but one that led him out of the gold industry and into the Tea business.
Hello Mr. Ricardo Capone, Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I recall meeting you in London 2012 at the Sports for Peace event. Since then, it seems like a lot has changed!
Hey Jamie, What’s’ up dude? Yeah it’s a pleasure to hook up again, but please, call me Riki. Sure things have changed dramatically. Thank god as-well, I can’t think of anything worse than a stagnant business venture, I mean what’s it been 6/7 years since then? When we met, I was at the middle stage of my gold career really. I was just young, excited and doing whatever, whenever and being e wherever to get my company and name out there. I had clients from all backgrounds from international celebrities to the UK Governments British Meteorological Survey Dept.
That’s right, you were what? 25 years old and already making waves in the business scene. So you’ve now sold your gold company and moved on. I’ll come back to that in a moment, but first id love to know, what was the highlight of your directorship with Goldie Horns Ltd?
Psh! That’s a great question. There were so many. If I had to single one out? Ha-ha, Jheeze. Okay, I got it. Day one! I’ve got to say, before I explain myself. I came from, an unlikely-to-succeed background. Growing up in Nottingham wasn’t easy, like, at all! And launching a company there at just 21 years old with no guidance, no one to fall back on if it went wrong… it was daunting. That very first day, when I had already invested all my savings into equipment, marketing… the day I received my share certificates, my incorporation documents. The memorandum and articles of association. I was a director. The CEO of my own company. Ready to take on the world. That was the highlight for me as it was no longer a hobby, or a dream. It was real, you know?
I do! Completely understand that. It must have been amazing for you. So let me get this right, from 21 years old until 31 you were the sole owner of G.H with no investing partners. What forced you to sell the company in 2019 and was the company in profit or debt at the time?
Ha-ha! Cheeky question there at the end but fortunately, I don’t mind answering. The company was liquid and in the black. Just to be clear Jamie, I didn’t sell through need, the company was highly profitable. There comes a time in our lives where we want to turn the tables upside down. You have to understand, when I stared the company, I was young, single and having fun traveling the world. The job role demanded international attention. It took me far and wide, living and doing business in most of Europe, Asia and the Americas. I had found myself hitting my 30’s with a beautiful fiancée and a son. By December 2018 (the 22nd actually) I had married Alexandra. My dream woman and mother of my lil dude, Azure Benjamin Capone. I needed to settle and Goldie Horns was never going to allow that. You see. I sold the business to focus on something much more important. Laying down some roots.
I think that’s really important, and admirable. Great to hear the company was doing well. Do you mind me asking, what was your settlement figure?
Hmm, I’m not sure I am allowed to reveal the full details of my private sale. I can say this though; I walked away with seven figures.
Great! Let’s talk for a moment then about tea. How and why did you decide to get involved in the chai business?
Well Jamie, that’s an easy one. My wife! Alexandra. They say “Behind every good man, is a great woman.” in my case, that’s really apt. Ale put up with a lot while I was focused on the gold. The traveling, pregnancy and we moved several countries together. We decided that we needed to settle for our son Azure. He needed focus himself and we found ourselves in Spain. A land that Ale holds close to her heart. We found a great school for Azure and a wonderful family home within walking distance from his school. It seemed perfect. We moved there in January of this year and I had one final trip planned to Singapore to sign the paperwork for the sale of my company. While in Asia, I had a business contact whose Tea plantation was failing. He just couldn’t keep up with the cost of exporting his tea to Europe. One thing led to another and he proposed I purchase the plantation. Being European (for now, hopefully Britannia doesn’t leave the EU) I was in a unique position, I could be profitable and enjoy the lower taxes imposed for importing our tea through Romania (Alexandra’s home country). I had discussed this with my wife, she was so excited. Tea had always been a passion for her. Growing up in a small town outside of Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania she frequently visited a tea house there called “Samsara”. It was more than a place to drink tea, but a social hotspot for all the cool young people in the area. A place with exotic themed rooms in a big old house. She whisked me away to experience it. I found myself at home there. In love with the concept. There was just one big issue for me, it wasn’t very profitable. It was a place of love, joy, friendship and history. True. But the owner was not focused on making money and yet it was my wife’s dream to have a similar business. How could that work for me? I’m a capitalist right! So we bumped heads again and like in all successful happy marriages, there has to be some compromise. We decided to go into business together (my wife and I) with two very clear goals.
- Ale would get her physical tea store up and running
- We would own and operate the tea plantations, supplying our store with our teas from Asia and profiting greatly from international wholesale of our own teas.
It seemed like the perfect match, certainly its working very well so far
Fantastic Riki! A match made in heaven then. I’ve read a little online about your plantations. You have four in total now right? The name also “The Blooming Lotus”.. How did that come about? Can you tell us more about the plantations that belong to The Blooming Lotus.
Interesting questions man, yeah you’ve done your research! We do indeed have four plantations:
- The Wuyi Plantation
- The Anji Bai Cha Plantation
- The West Lake Longjing Plantation
- The Zisun Plantation
I’ll use this opportunity to throw a little self-promo out there; you can read about the wonders of our tea plantations on our site if you go to www.thebloominglotus.eu/our-teas.
The name, The Blooming Lotus was one founded in both our desire to describe our USP (Unique Selling Point) and our love for Buddhist beliefs. In typical “me” fashion, I’m going to start with the latter part. The lotus. In Buddhist tradition, there is something called “The Pad-ma” or “The Lotus Philosophy” In Latin; the Nelumbo Necifera (lotus flower) is a symbol of creation and cosmic renewal and primordial purity or “Ka Dag”. It is one of the Ashtamangala of Buddhism and a chakra symbol in the Dharmacakra. In short, the same beliefs my wife and I share about the beginning of existence through to energy and purity are symbolised by this flower in the eastern world. So of course, with our teas coming from the east, it seemed only fitting that we portray our values through our name. The Blooming Part! Well, this is simple. Our teas bloom. Not in the traditional sense that you’re thinking. I’m not referring to the natural process by which a flower reveals itself. But rather, in the artisan sense. When we harvest our teas, our primary use for the leaves is not to put them into tea bags or just have them in a loose leaf form. We use artisans in China that take their art form from an ancient Vietnamese tradition of tying the tea leaves around a single flower. So that when you steep the “tea balls” the internal flower is revealed in a “Blooming” motion.
I love the design and the backstory. Tell me, how soon can we expect to be able to visit a Blooming Lotus Tea Store and see Alexandra serving behind its tea bar?
Currently, this year we have focused only on wholesale teas. Supplying some of Europe largest tea brands. With the profits from year one in the bank, we aim to launch phase two at the end of the first quarter in 2020. I can give you this sneak peak for now; we will in January be opening our online store. This will be for small quantity sales of our tea direct to consumers who sign up. You can register your interest to be a member now on the website. While we will use that launch as a testing ground for our product packaging designs, Ale will be using it to gain a local following in Spain (where our first store is due to open its doors). Supplying the locals and not-so-locals alike with some of our most special blends. Building interest in the months prior to opening the doors physically.
For more information about The Blooming Lotus company:
Name: The Blooming Lotus SRL