How this Emirates cabin crew member went on to own 12 pizza outlets
Alessandro D'Ubalo came to the UAE in 1999
Dubai - His story is a lesson in identifying opportunities and backing them with conviction
A land of aspirations and dreams for many, Dubai has countless stories of expats making it big in the emirates.
Italian expat Alessandro D'Ubalo came to the UAE in 1999 as part of Emirates' cabin crew and ended up as the owner of a successful food chain - 800 Pizza. You might have ordered their pizza but do you know the man's humble story?
He started his first outlet in Al Barsha in 2007 and today is a proud owner of a chain of 12 outlets - both owned and franchises. The secret to his success is identifying the right opportunity and diving into it.
Half a million investmentHow did the idea of starting a pizza outlet dawn upon him? "When I was younger, I worked in a pizzeria in Italy in the summers and it was a job I enjoyed. I decided this is what I want to bring to the UAE. So I flew an oven over from Italy and set up a 345sq foot shop at Al Barsha. I made an investment of around half a million for the first shop," he recollects. One of the oldest outlets of 800 Pizza, the branch is still running and bustling with orders.
Alessandro's challenges were the same as any new business in the region - 800 Pizza was small and unknown. Alex himself toiled at the first outlet and would sometimes jump on the motorbike to deliver orders, when his shop was understaffed.
Today, 800 Pizza has completed 10 years and is spread across the emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ajman.
New Beginnings He might be the face behind the popular food brand 800 Pizza, but selling pizza was not his first choice of business.
In 2003, he dabbled in the real estate space, identifying the gap as there weren't many properties available for short term rentals in Dubai. And as the property space grew, he ventured into buying and selling of properties too.
From Dh1,800 to millionaire with 9 restaurants in UAE
Soon, the property segment in Dubai boomed and every billboard on Sheikh Zayed Road was an advertisement by a real estate company. Alessandro was worried that the market would not hold on for long. "That's when I decided to put my eggs in multiple baskets and invested in the hotel business. By the time the real estate crash happened in 2008, 800 Pizza was already live and kicking."
As the business grew, one of the first big purchases Alessandro made was buying a house in Dubai Marina. "I finally owned a place in Dubai and I remember it cost me Dh1.2million at that time. And my first crazy purchase was a beautiful Ferrari," he declares proudly.
Do you run this business in UAE? Here's what you should know
Many ambitious businessmen venture into the restaurant business and sometimes end up burning their finger. What is that one advise he has for those aspiring to jump in the food biz? "Dubai has changed in the past 10 years. First, you could come up with an idea and set up a business here but today, you need an idea, a plan and prefect execution. The room for mistakes has reduced to zero."
He believes in luck but strongly believes that it cannot sustain in the long run. So, all those banking on luck, back it up with your sweat!