Dan Pope has been around the east London club scene for almost 15 years. Starting with the east London club night Trailer Trash, he has developed popular venue Dalston Superstore and is now expanding the pizza concept Voodoo Ray’s into new locations.

We met up with Dan to hear his story − and what he believes have been the main reasons for his success.

1. Let passion lead the way

− My business partners Matt Tucker and Dan Beaumont and I found the perfect venue in Dalston, a near-derelict building filled with rats and pigeon droppings in what was then considered a pretty bad neighborhood. But there was something about Dalston which felt intriguing. Dalston Superstore was a crazy project which pretty much drained every one of our credit cards! We opened in 2009, just as the neighborhood’s regeneration was in its ascendancy. We trade from 10am until 3am performing many roles ranging from local café, diner and arts space during the day through to cocktail bar and thumping late night club. I do believe that if you love what you do, the staff pick up on it and this passion feeds through to your customers.

I do believe that if you love what you do, the staff pick up on it and this passion feeds through to your customers.

Dalston Superstore
Dalston Superstore

2. Treat your customers as family

− Matt and I started our first club project, Trailer Trash, from scratch. Having no existing following to rely on, we frantically ran around Shoreditch every week with our flyers and posters doing everything to get people down to our new little night. Eventually we built up a database with our crowd’s mobile numbers and e-mail addresses. This was before social media, so this network was crucial in allowing us to develop a relationship with our crowd. It was long our only asset. We kept doing Trailer Trash every Friday night for five years, and they became like family.

3. Targeted marketing

− Before the advent of social media, we would send out invitations by e-mail at the beginning of the week. But we knew people were getting tired of e-mails, so on Friday night around 8pm, when they had started gathering for drinks, talking about where they would go later, we sent out a new invitation by SMS. This worked pretty well!

Voodoo Ray's
Voodoo Ray’s

4. Keep tight financial management

− I feel it’s crucial to first and foremost be guided by passion and creativity − but financial sense has to follow close behind. Accounts may sound boring, but as the controls of a plane allow the pilot to fly, management accounts help us keep our business in the air. Having a healthy and profitable business allows us to pursue new exciting projects.

5. Food has to be perfect − every time

− In 2012 we launched Voodoo Ray’s, a New York-style gourmet pizza slice place, with sites in Dalston and Shoreditch, as well a mobile food truck. It may seem contrary to my view on tight fiscal management, but our chefs’ first and foremost goal is to create amazing pizza and to not be targeted on cost savings. Our accounting systems allow us to easily identify and fix any issues with profitability, but, if the quality isn’t perfect we have a much tougher problem to solve. It doesn’t matter what else you do if people don’t like your food. It has to be perfect every time!