Friday, February 22, 2008

Let sleeping fish lie while you count your profits

LEARNING & INNOVATION – February 23, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Let sleeping fish lie while you count the profits

Leafing through Joey Conception's book Go Negosyo: 50 inspiring
entrepreneurial stories, I found these awesome entrepreneurial lessons. I
will not paraphrase, but will quote verbatim to capture the essence of the
story written by Rafael Ongpin since I don't have primary data.

"Boni Comandante is simply a regular guy with an idea. He wasn't a
scientist, but he made himself into one to refine this idea and take it all
the way. He is someone who sees possibilities and, more importantly, turns
them into realities.

"Boni puts fish to sleep which could be a billion-dollar industry.

"Boni is no snake oil salesman—he is neither glib nor slick. He is shy and
you probably wouldn't be able to pick him out in a crowd. He is simply a
regular guy with an idea.

"Fish is all about freshness. The less fresh a fish is, the less good it
tastes. You can freeze fish, which most commercial fishing operations do,
moments after catching them. But freezing, while preserving some measure of
the taste, can destroy the texture of fish, make it dry and crumbly or slimy
and sludgy, instead of firm and buttery. The best fish to eat, then, is
freshly caught. Many Chinese restaurants specialize in this, with live fish
tanks all over the entrance where you can actually pick out a specific
critter for your dinner. But live fish is expensive. This is because in
order to transport a single live fish, you have to put it in water that is
at least three times its weight. It is a heavy proposition.

"It all started when Boni was born on the island of Siquijor and grew up in
Laguna with a clubfoot. As a child, perhaps because of the extensive
therapy he was required to undergo that excluded him from sports, he read a
great deal, including an entire set of encyclopedias. He looks back, 'I
think being born with that condition was, somehow, a gift. It taught me to
look at everything in a different way. It made me reflective from a very
early age. It taught me that there are possibilities in almost everything.'

"He went to work for a government irrigatiuon office, the Light Rail Transit
and a livelihood-enhancement NGO that posted him to a fishing community in
Palawan where he developed a system for flying fish live from Palawan in
tanks straight to Hongkong via chartered light airplanes.. One night, one
of the fishermen gave him a large, live lapu-lapu. As he was flying out the
next morning, he put the fish on top of an open cooler. There was no water
in the cooler, just a bit of ice. There was something about the conditions
in the cooler, something just right, because the next morning, six hours
later, the fish was still alive. In fact, put back into a tank of water, it
swam vigorously. Boni wondered about this and tried to figure it out, but
he couldn't.

"Returning to Manila, he then spent several years running a successful
network-based merchandising business. Nonetheless, the fish incident still
bothered him. He realized the business opportunity in it if he could the

"He finally decided to go back to fishing and back to school at Siliman
University for a masters degree to add to his agricultural engineering
degree from UP Los Baños, After much research, he found the conditions to
enable fish to sleep up to 12 hours and graduated from the masteral program
with honors.

"Boni quickly applied for local and global patents on the process and he now
is in the verge of a very profitable business, Buhi Corporation.

Read the Joey's book and get inspired 49 times more. Keep your Christmas
lights on.

INVITING all V. Mapa High School alumni to its Grand Reunion & Ballroom
Dancing tomorrow, Sunday, starting at 2 p.m. at Wack-Wack Golf & Country
Club, Mandaluyong City. CONGRATULATIONS to the 11 Blue Falcon Awardees this
year for their outstanding achievements in their chosen field. SPECIAL
INVITATION to members of Class '64 to cheer Rear Adm (Ret.) Edgardo M.
Israel and this columnist for having passed the Screening Committee with
flying colors and being approved unanimously by the Board of Judges to
receive the Blue Falcon Award.;

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