Friday, February 15, 2008

Inspirations for budding entrepreneurs

LEARNING & INNOVATION – February 16, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Inspirations for budding entrepreneurs

I found two very engaging book that tells stories of entrepreneurial
greatness. One is ENTREPRENEURSHIP: creating, building and growing your
business published by Center for Small, Entrepreneurs, Inc.

One such story is that of Rommel Juan and the true-Filipino fast food
Binalot. "Binalot started in 1996 as a micro enterprise. It was
conceptualized by Rommel and his brothers who were both inspired by
childhood memories of "binalot," food wrapped in banana leaves prepared by
their mother. Their partners approved the concept and with a capital of
Php10,000.00, they started the business. They began with a guerilla-style
operation. They called their friends and offices in Makati, offered their
products and delivered the orders. In each delivery, a survey form always
came with the product. The brothers gave importance to the comments of
their clients and seriously considered their suggestions.

"On their first day, they had three helpers: a purchaser/rider, a crew
member and one who did the wrapping. On the second day, they needed to hire
another two to help them. They initially offered one menu only adobo with
rice and sidings. Each owner-member was given the responsibility to sell
seven orders everyday. If a partner does not reach his quota, he would be
the one to buy the food he was not able to sell. The initial operation gave
them Php980.00 sales a day. They rented a space in the condominium they
were staying and turned it into a production area.

"After two weeks, their menu included Pinoy meals such as adobo, tocino,
longanisa, tapa and bistek with rice and sidings. The guerilla operation
lasted for two months with the Citibank employees and friends as their
primary clients. During those times, nobody knew where they were because
customers placed their orders through the phone. There were times when they
needed to hang the phone because they could not accommodate all the orders.
After two months, they opened a delivery outlet in Jupiter Street and a
take-out store in Ayala."

From a mjicro enterprise, Binalot had graduated into a medium enterprise
with company owned outlets and franchises employing more than a 100
employees in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. Rommel says, "Each
new conquest adds up to my confidence. I am thankful for the mistakes
because I learned from them. A decision done quickly is better than a good
decision done slowly."

Another inspiring story is about the bags of Pinky Sebastian. "Pinky likes
to window-shop and one of the favorite things that she regularly shop-hunts
is bags. Since she couldn't always find the bag she liked, an idea to
create her own sparkled. An interior designer by profession, art became a
second nature to her. Before responding to her entrepreneurial calling, she
worked in a pre-school as an art teacher at an upscale subdivision. She
spent several years there until she decided to focus on starting her own

"At first, her customers were her friends. She was then happy to simply
recoup her initial investment of 500 pesos. Later a friend believed in the
potential of her bags and decided to do the marketing for her. After so
many designs and samples, the first order came from Manila COD; then
Landmark, Rustan's, Robinson's and Gaissano.

She also tried other unique products like small pillows with religious and
inspirational prints. When Heartstrings launched bags made of corduroy and
denims, it became so popular among the young generation that it brought back
the bag as the flagship product of her company. From then on, Heartstrings
because a popular brand for quality cloth bags crafted with hip designs.
Presently, she has more than 60 outlets nationwide and several stand alone

Pinky says, "do not be overly concerned with what you can always get but be
sensitive always to what you can possibly give. To her customers, she is
generous by giving the best quality at the friendliest price. With
employees and suppliers, she practices the best possible means to share the
good life because she consider them her partners and stakeholders in her

Next column, let's get more inspired by successful and aspiring
entrepreneurs. Keep your Christmas lights on.;

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