• The Ukrainian economy has taken several hard hits over the years, especially the 2014 war and the great recession.

  • Oleg Prokofiev has been able to navigate these rough conditions and launch multiple businesses in Ukraine.

  • The U.S. has shown sizable economic growth since the pandemic and is on an upward trend. 

Oleg Prokofiev is a Ukrainian entrepreneur whose perseverance, passion and intuition for business has brought him success across a variety of industries. From his first venture of selling cellphones in the late 1990s, to makeup distribution, to starting an independent makeup brand with his wife, Oleg has fought for success in his homeland despite significant instability in the economy. Now, with his first U.S. business success under his belt, he has set his sights on building a franchise and hopes to help in providing job opportunities to the American market.

Prokofiev’s Entrepreneurship Journey 

Prokofiev displayed his entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. In his school years, Prokofiev planted vegetables in his parent’s garden and paid his sister to sell them for him at his local farmer’s market. He also took photographs at his summer camp, which he then developed and sold to his peers. 

In the 90s, his first professional venture was inspired by his excitement about cell phones, as they were just gaining popularity and momentum on the market. He found a supplier with wholesale prices and started selling devices through ads in newspapers. Eventually, he was able to expand the business and opened his first cell phone retail shop. Business was great and he went on to open seven more retail locations, and even founded a wholesale company with a partner. These ventures taught Oleg so much, and also brought new opportunities into his life. 

Together with his wife, who also has the entrepreneurial spirit, Prokofiev had the idea of becoming the exclusive distributor of a cosmetic brand in Ukraine. After jumping through many hoops, they obtained the rights to be the exclusive Ukrainian distributor of a high-quality brand. In just six months, they were able to build a chain of dealers in all the major Ukrainian cities. Devastatingly, as the product became more popular, other suppliers sought to undercut his prices and fraudulently distribute the brand to which he was supposed to have exclusive rights. 

Turning an obstacle into an opportunity, Prokofiev and his wife decided that it would be more beneficial to start a cosmetic brand of their own. They would then have the exclusive rights to the product, and all business would have to come through their office. This worked terrifically and they were able to significantly grow their business and their revenues. 

Oleg Prokofiev Oleg Prokofiev Photo: Oleg Prokofiev

After all of his success in Ukraine, Prokofiev began to contemplate life in another location. He was taken by the stability of the U.S. economy and the greater scale of opportunity which the market represented, especially in contrast to chaos of the Ukrainian market that followed the 2014 crisis. He spent the next three years researching the U.S. and preparing to establish a business there.

When he first found Testo Pepesto, the business was anything but thriving. However, with his vision and dedication he turned this Italian restaurant into a vibrant and popular venue. With a wealth of new customers, word of mouth is traveling fast and Testo Pepesto’s reputation is being turned upside down – in the best way possible.

Having learned from the trials and tribulations of his Ukrainian ventures, Oleg now recognizes the importance of protecting your own brand and business. So, as others have become interested in his restaurant, he has decided to launch a separate business with the intention of franchising. He plans to keep the element of Italian cuisine, but is designing the franchise chain to be more fast-casual than fine-dining. He sees this angle as giving the business the best chances of success, as well as being able to maintain a certain amount of control over the brand image. His plan is to launch the first location in Arizona, but he has dreams of becoming nation-wide in the next few years.  With the new ventures, he hopes that he can further invest in the U.S. economy and help to generate more jobs and opportunities for the American population. 

Final Thoughts 

Oleg Prokofiev has used his business savvy and professionalism to succeed in the tumultuous Ukrainian economy. He has proven himself as an entrepreneur by successfully navigating the challenges thrown his way, and then taking those skills to invest in the U.S. landscape. Oleg has fought his way through setbacks that would discourage and deter the average entrepreneur. However, his dreams and goals have kept him motivated and his wife is always cheering him on. He is not afraid to learn and adapt, and this ability is key to his success.