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February 24th, 2010Dream of a deal in frozen yoghurt

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by Angela Giuffrida

Two years ago, Oliviero Cassini was flying high in the financial world with Abraaj Capital, the biggest private equity firm in the Middle East.

His niche was property investment, and when the global financial crisis hit the region’s market, it wasn’t long before he was considering an alternative career.

When a project he was working on was cancelled last March, the 32-year-old Italian left the firm and began work on a long-time dream.

Less than a year later, Mr Cassini has gone from spending his days working on high-profile deals to producing frozen yoghurt with three childhood friends for Slick Yogo, which opened its first kiosk at Dubai Mall last month.

“We always wanted to do something in the food and beverage industry,” he says. “And now seemed like a good opportunity to do it. So six months ago we embarked on research of the traditional Italian ice cream. We had lots of ideas, but thought this [frozen yoghurt] was more pertinent to Dubai and the whole health-conscious trend.”

Even though shoppers are reducing their spending during the economic downturn, the partners still took the plunge. They already have repeat customers as well as inquiries from investors from as far afield as Kazakhstan interested in expanding the business.

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