Meet Alex Habachi, founder of e-commerce business Vinkind, and former police officer of six and a half years. Alex worked mainly on response in Hackney, before taking on a couple of training intakes and leading a proactive team in the north of the borough.
“I think one of the main things I took out of the police was discipline definitely, and resilience. As a police officer you’re faced with these big decisions every day, every single shift. You’re out there dealing with peoples’ lives, you’ve got to take all the information you have to hand and make these short impactful decisions that have huge repercussions. I think taking that and applying it to business, it makes you move quicker, it makes you more effective than people who may sit back and fester over a decision for a long period of time.”
After a challenging period in him and his family’s personal life, Alex wanted to dedicate more time to his family, as well as trying to start a business, an aspiration he has had for many years. Starting a business presented the opportunity to have more financial flexibility, with the ability to work the hours he wanted to work:
“When I left the police my family had been through a few difficulties, we’d had some losses. I thought this would be a good time to dedicate a bit more time to my wife and children, while also trying to launch a business; something that I’d always had an interest in, and something that I tried in my early twenties. So together as a family we took a decision – it was now or never, let’s give this a go.”
Alex setup Vinkind, which in its current form is an online platform which helps people discover and buy wine, and get recommendations, much like you’d get from Netflix or Spotify. But it wasn’t a smooth journey to get to where they are today:
“We went into it quite naively, thinking we’d be spending loads of time in vineyards, importing wine, flying around and enjoy ourselves… The realities of day to day business really kicked in! We went from selling wine on market stalls, to opening a small shop which was also a coffee shop. We sold that at the end of 2020 and moved into the world of e-commerce and tech.”
Alex initially received funding and mentoring support through X-Emergency Services back in 2016, receiving a Start Up Loan of £6,000 and 12 months free mentoring support.
“So X-ES were the first bit of external finance that we got from our business in the form of a loan. I went through the government Start Up Scheme website and was put in touch with X-ES to get a start up loan. X-ES were great! I had a lot of support from the team, in drawing up business plan, financial models, making sure we had all our licenses, and all the appropriate companies house obligations setup.
“X-ES were just there at the start of the journey. It wasn’t just the financial elements, it was getting that business plan up to spec, and of course when the money came in, X-ES were still there as someone we could call on for support.”
Currently in the middle of a crucial round of fundraising, Alex touches on what the future holds for Vinkind:
“At every stage our business becomes more and more sophisticated, we understand our customers better, we understand our product better. It’s all about capitalising on that and making sure we grow properly. That we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves, but ultimately that the ambition is there to build a large sustainable business that works properly.”
X-Emergency Services CEO, Ren Kapur MBE, said:
“Whenever someone mentions the name Alex Habachi, I just smile! From one entrepreneur to another, it was so great to see Alex take the bull by the horns with his start-up, not only to set something up that he was passionate about, but also cleverly looking at the market segmentation – both wine and coffee! It sounds so simple, but he went and did it, and has made such a success of it.
It energises me to hear these stories, and having met Alex it does not surprise me that with his personality, his ability to adapt – particularly throughout COVID-19 and the pandemic – he has made a success of the business and is striving to grow and expand at every opportunity. He has been open and honest with us that there were some really scary moments for him during the last 18 months, and one of the aspects that helped him through that was a strong network.
It just emphasises the importance of knowledge exchange, and how building up strong and supportive connections can enable you to continue to grow. Well done Alex!”
Inspired by this story?
X-Emergency Services (X-ES) is a Community Interest Company that supports the emergency services community through transition, whether that be second or third careers, employed or self-employed, volunteering or retirement. X-ES specialises in nurturing entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial ambition and is the UK’s largest provider of transition support to the ex-emergency services in business. Support is available to leavers, those who have served and their immediate family members. X-ES works with the government’s Start Up Loans scheme, run by the British Business Bank. We support beneficiaries through a full package of training, finance, networking and mentoring. Start your journey by registering today here.
You may also be interested in: