How Mamuka Khazaradze made his first million
18 December, 2014
How Mamuka Khazaradze made his first million
Just recently, Mamuka Khazaradze was named “Entrepreneur of the Year,” and very soon he will compete for the title of “Worlds Entrepreneur of the Year.” His path to the top began approximately 23 years ago, with several failed attempts at business, followed by many successful ones. Today his name is associated with huge Georgian businesses such as TBC Bank and Borjomi. has invited Mamuka to share his experiences and talk about processes currently occurring in the business world, as
well as his plans for the future. We offer you a segment from his interview, in which he tells the story of earning his first million.

"For me, what matters in business is the process, not the results. I do not know if this is good or bad, but that’s how I like it."

– Do you remember your first business profit?

– Yes, it was a million Russian rubles from a business operation with beer. Back then, we didn’t even realize what such a sum was worth. But this profit has a long story preceding it. The beer was brought to Georgia from the US, through Russia. It arrived in shipping containers, but the containers couldn’t be unloaded because there was no technology for this in Georgia back then. So we decided to take the beer out, batch by batch, and deliver it by train.
The shipment nearly overloaded and closed down the Didube railway hub. This immediately prompted higher-ups in the government to scream about this being sabotage – how we could have shipped in other products instead of beer. Upon seeing all this unfold on TV, I decided to call my friend in St. Petersburg and ask him if they needed beer over there. He didn’t even ask me what beer it was – all he said was, “If it’s in cans, then I’ll take it.” Back then, in the 1990s, during Perestroika, what mattered wasn’t the drink, but the package.
Long story short, my friends and I sent the beer back to St. Petersburg – about 1.3 million cans. It was the last train to leave Georgia before the Samtredia blockade in 1991 took effect. However, our cargo was stopped in the St. Petersburg port, where it fell into the mafia’s hands. My cousin and I were forced to go there to sort the matter out.
We were about 25 years old back then. Upon arriving at the port, we overheard a bunch of dockworkers talking to each other, complaining that they weren’t being paid enough. We felt sorry for them and gave them 25 rubles out of the 50 rubles that we had. One of them asked if we were looking for beer that was stationed in the port. We said, “yes,” and they simply handed over our cargo without saying a word to their bosses. We immediately sent it on to our client.

"Our cargo was stopped in the St. Petersburg port, where it fell into the mafia’s hands. My cousin and I were forced to go there to sort the matter out."

– But back then you didn’t know the basics of business, so what drove you? What made you tick? Was it the thrill of risk-taking or maybe your instincts?

– A desire for novelty, which I always had. I had it in school, I had it in university and I have it now. I was always active and lively. If there was some student event, you could bet on me getting involved. After it all went down in flames, I realized that it was every man for himself. By that time I was already a grown man, and my parents’ salary of 310 rubles wasn’t enough for anything – especially considering the hyperinflation that was beginning.
I came to the realization that business was the only field, which could grant me self-fulfillment without any superiors ruling over me. I would become my own master, which I wanted most of all. Besides, business was something that few people knew the intricacies of back then.
First I opened an art saloon, then an art studio. When we went to St. Petersburg to sell the pictures, we thought ourselves accomplished businessmen and art dealers. However, reality quickly brought us back down to earth. Despite selling 15 works of art at Astoria Hotel, we barely had enough money for a return trip.
For me, what matters in business is the process, not the results. I do not know if this is good or bad, but that’s how I like it.

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