Accelerator Member Spotlight: et Oliva


Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about you. What is your passion behind your business? My name is Patrick Karsu and I have been a Chef for 15 years. I cooked in some of the best restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. After moving to Washington DC with my partner, I got my MBA from George Washington University. My passion for Mediterranean food was always there, but in a limited way. My partner is from Turkey and he showed me what flavors go together and really changed my perception of food from the eastern Mediterranean region. It is ironic because he doesn’t cook (no really - he doesn’t, it winds up a disaster), but his mom does. However, she doesn't speak a lot of English and I speak chicken Turkish or Turk-lish as I like to call it. Yet she was able to teach me a few things so her son wouldn’t starve!

Did you always know you wanted to start a food business?/What did you think you wanted to do professionally? I always wanted to do my own thing. One thing I did figure out late on in life is that I just can’t work for other people. When I try, it goes ok to start, but then eventually it sours and it ends. Thats why I finally decided to take the risk and the plunge.

Why did you start your business? I languished in corporate for 5 years after getting my MBA and realized that it just wasn’t for me - I wasn’t thriving or growing. I was just stuck doing the same thing, everyday, every week, over and over again. For some people, that’s fine - they enjoy that continuity. However, for me, It was soul sucking and the job eventually stopped being a good fit. I was never so miserable. 

What did you do before starting your business? I went into accounting after I got my MBA because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. However, it soon became clear that I did not need an MBA to do bookkeeping.  I got an MBA to start my own business, not make / count money for other people (or butter other peoples bread - as said in Turkey). So, if anything, the ridiculousness of office life hit me in the head and said wake up.

What do you like about food? What is not to like? Food is my love language. 

What drew you to the food industry? Well I sort of just fell into it. I started cooking under the table for extra money when I was studying abroad. I then decided to drop out of the current university program I was in and enroll in culinary school - hooray! my visa was renewed.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced to date? Well I can’t really say - it seems that once you put out one fire three more spring up in its place. So I think the challenge is not getting overwhelmed, because it is so easy to loose your nerve.

What's been the most exciting part of starting your food business? Being accountable to myself - If I want to take a day off or something, fine, but that energy has to go somewhere. If I don't do it, it doesn’t get done. So there has to be a productive balance.