Ferrywrites: Interview with Entrepreneur Ferry

One of the necessities for a new year is to have a new planner! I’m sure most of us already have planners that we can use. I always think of planners as a way to see the personality of a person, and I admire those who can actually decorate it well and write on it legibly. Today, I interviewed someone whose business is help you decorate and fix your planners! How cool is that! 🙂

About Ferry of Ferrywrites

Hi there! I’m Ferry, a blogger mom with a penchant for crafts. I am married to Raymond Ko for 6 years and counting, and we’re blessed with three (one on the way, yes I am 5 months pregnant now) children. I own a small online shop for planner needs, named Ferrywrites.

I started crafting at the tender age of seven. I started with creating scrapbooks, diaries, collecting stationeries and notepads until I discovered Filofax when I turned thirteen. From then on, I started using planners as if they were an extension of myself. Decorating planners and getting organized the way I like things to be makes me more productive and aware of the things I should prioritize and thing that I need to brush off. It goes hand in hand with my other passion, writing. I don’t see this as a hobby. I consider this as my life’s focal point.

Before I became a momtrepreneur, I was working in the corporate world at the age of eighteen. I would also do sideline jobs as a freelancer that involves writing, listing, calling clients to name a few, all while I was studying in College. Now, I am a full-time mom for almost four years and entrepreneur for a year.

My advocacy is simple, spread kindness. I was raised by a single father who taught me that whenever one can help, one should help. And living with his mantra, we (my husband and I) came up with the idea that part of our monthly sales, whether it’s coming from our partner merchant or online, will automatically go to our chosen charity of the year (World Vision Philippines).

Interview with Ferry:

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Ferry: I own a shop named Ferrywrites. It caters to planner needs such as weekly sticker kits, icons stickers, planner inserts, charms clips etc. I have been doing this for a year now.

Ginger: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Ferry: Mainly, the Planner Community. Funny because only a few people really know that our community exists. We take planning and crafts seriously. It’s a very creative community where you will find girls who are willing to help the girls how to start up or hone their planning and all.

Ginger: Oh, I think I better join that community! I have a planning addiction! haha! So, how did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Ferry: Making planner sticker kits is common in the community. I turned my passion into a small business, not only to gain profit, but to reach out to people too. Since I can doodle and I have a keen eye for what works, I’ve decided to give it a try.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an
Entrepreneur? What are these?

Ferry: Definitely! I used to get depressed whenever I cannot come up with cute or functional or unique design for my stickers. I would always compare my work to others who are doing this way longer than me. The profit was never an issue to me. It was more of how can I level up or get them to know my brand.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Ferry: Looking for materials. It’s been a challenge since day one to find a quality and affordable materials for the business. Of course, all business owners want good provisions at a low price that your clients will appreciate.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when
starting their own business?

Ferry: Vision, Resilience, and Faith.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Ferry: Love what you do, have fun and do not compare with your competitors.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Ferry: You change the path never the goal. If the process of what you are doing right now is not working that much, think of another way to achieve your goal.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Ferry: YES! because I strongly agree with what Guy Kawasaki, the author of The Art of Start said: “Entrepreneur is not a job title, it’s a state of mind of people who want to alter the future.” After all, entrepreneurship doesn’t equate to just having a business.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Ferry: Stay alert of the new things in the market and always look for ways to improve your products.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Ferry: I network as much as possible and I do sponsor craft events. By doing these, they get to know my brand, what I do and my advocacy.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Ferry: Intuos Art, Procreate of Ipad Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator and Silhouette Software.

Ginger: Other things that you want to mention which you think are important

Ferry: Be observant but do not copy. Do not believe in the saying that imitation is the highest form of flattery. I think that is disrespectful. Observe the hype and the new things in your field then come up with your own twist to it.

Ginger: Thank you so much for your insights and for sharing your experiences, Ferry! More power to you!

Contact information about your business:

Website – www.ferrywrites.com
Email address – ferrywrites@gmail.com
Mobile Number – 0916-622- 2812
Facebook Page – Ferrywrites
Twitter account – @ferrywrites
Instagram account – @ferrywrites and @ferrywrites.shop
Pinterest – ferrywrites

Leela Kids, World’s First Kids Podcast App

One of the Filipino Podcasters that I follow is my good friend, Marv De Leon. His podcast is called Freelance Blend and he talks about freelancing. Other podcasts that I listen to are the ones of Tim Ferriss and Amy Porterfield. It got me thinking, why don’t we have any kid podcasters. I was telling a friend yesterday how talkative my 4 year old is. She may be a podcaster, too, one day.

Do you know that there is a podcast app for children? And I got to interview the founder. The founder is Sandeep Jain, CEO of Leela Kids, the world’s first podcast app for children, describes himself as being ever-restless, a tinkerer and a maverick.

Based in Santa Clara, California, this full-time entrepreneur and his wife of 11 years have a five-year-old son, Kabir. Sandeep spends his time experimenting with technology in order to make smart products. Beyond that, he also enjoys hiking, running and traveling—he recently completed a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 45°C weather, has run a marathon and plans to do the Ironman one day, and has been to more than 25 countries.

 

About Sandeep! 🙂

I am a tinkerer, ever-restless, and a maverick. I like experimenting with technology to create smart products. I live in Santa Clara, California, with my lovely wife and our bubbly son. We have been married for 11 years now. I led InMobi’s North America’s Business Development & Strategic Partnerships charter before I started Leela Labs. Prior to that, I was managing a global firewall business worth more than $400M at Cisco. I am a full-time entrepreneur. My hobbies are hiking & running. I recently completed a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 45°C weather. I have run a marathon and hope to complete an Ironman at some point in my life. I love travelling—I have travelled to more than 25 countries. I like connecting with people wherever I go. I picked up a little Spanish from my extensive travels in Central and South America. I hope to do an RV trip across the USA at some point. There are two causes that I am passionate about: supporting orphans and women who were victims of acid attacks. I support these issues from the sidelines, but hope to become an active participant later in my life.

Interview Questions:

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Sandeep: Our company’s name is Leela Labs Inc. We create technology so that people can listen to spoken audio (podcasts) easily. We have been in business for a little over than a year now.

Ginger: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Sandeep: Our current target market is kids and parents.

Kids love to hear stories, but we didn’t find any app in either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store that aggregates podcast content for kids based on their age and topic of interest. That was really surprising as both stores have millions of apps on any topic imaginable.

It’s even difficult for parents—even though there are several parenting-related podcasts, it is hard to find lists of episode belonging to a given topic, e.g., conceiving, pregnancy, life after kids, single parenting, divorce, how to deal with kid’s issues, etc.

A recent PWC report on Kids Digital Advertising  mentions that the kids digital advertising market will double to $1.2B from the $600M in 2016.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Sandeep: I was originally planning to start a business related to the online marketplace when someone suggested I listen to a podcast episode on that topic from A16Z, a podcast channel by Andreessen Horowitz. That episode was super helpful in that it laid out a framework to think about.

But what struck me most was that, despite living in the technology hub of the world, my information consumption resources had been limited to Google Search and certain print publications only… I had no idea that podcasts offered such amazing and relevant content and that I could consume this content while driving, at home, etc. I asked my techie friends and found that only two people out of the roughly 20 people I asked listened to podcasts. In fact, one study pointed out that 40% of Americans still don’t listen to podcasts. I quickly found out why—technology to access them is horribly broken. It’s like what Internet used to be before Google came along. Specifically:

  1. One is first required to find the name of podcast shows
  2. One must then individually subscribe to each show
  3. Then one must figure out which episodes to listen to from all the subscribed shows

This is a really cumbersome process for consuming information.

I figured that unlocking the podcast medium to let people find and listen to meaningful content was actually a much bigger idea than my original marketplace idea. It was much like what Google did in unlocking the Internet for the world.

Leela Labs was born with the mission of using technology and machine learning to connect people to best podcast content instantly.  Around 10 months after starting the business, we launched our first app, Leela (IOS).

The idea for Leela Kids came about much later. I wanted to play podcasts for my five-year-old son, but found it hard—really hard, even on Leela—to do so. Unlike podcast content for adults, podcast content for kids is very age-specific. What a five-year-old will like about dinosaurs, a ten-year-old will likely find too basic or even boring. And for busy parents and kids, the user interface needs to be really simple. I looked around on both IOS and Android and didn’t find the kind of app I needed. And the idea for the World’s First Kids’ Podcast App was born.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Sandeep: The biggest one for me was a substantial financial hit—I had to let go of my high-tech salary and stocks when I started Leela Labs.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Sandeep: The US is actually one of the countries which makes it easy for entrepreneurs to incorporate and start their businesses. One of the benefits of living in Silicon Valley is access to the ecosystem of like-minded people; however, the biggest disadvantage is that the talent is too pricey for an early-stage company to afford. You then look at contractor networks offered by sites like fiverr.com, upwork.com—both of these sites help you connect with talented individuals in East Europe and Asia who can offer what you need at competitive prices. As with any other marketplace, it does take some time to find the right candidate, though.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?

Sandeep: Grit – There will be failures—it’s not a matter of if but when and how frequent. Most successful founders have gone through challenges that moved them toward the point of stopping what they were doing. You need to have resilience and grit to be ready to face the failures and take it in stride and move ahead.

Ability to attract smart people. – Even though you may be the sole person carrying the startup torch initially, you will need people to help you in building your company. Attracting people to your company depends on motivating them about your idea and inspiring them to work with you. Besides financial gain, your hires (employees and even co-founders) will gauge you on your personality—how easy it is work with you, do you inspire them to something great, etc.

Thinking outside the box. – I strongly believe that successful startups are built on “non-linear thinking”—what I mean by that is doing something that wouldn’t normally occur to you. For example, the Airbnb founder flew to New York to meet their initial customers (people who were renting their house) to really understand them well.

Most companies struggle with getting the right PR for their company. They pay a lot to websites that host the emails of reporters and then they start spamming those reporters. But guess what everyone else is doing? Probably the same thing. That should be an indication to you about effectiveness (or the lack of it) of email spam. A non-linear thinking strategy could be to connect with reporters on Twitter—most reporters are active there and appreciate retweets or likes of the articles they write. Engage them there, and your returns will be much better.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Sandeep: 

Unforgettable moment: Right before our external product launch, our backend system went down (which it had never done in the past). After looking closely, we found that we had been hacked and were being asked for a ransom (in bitcoin, worth about $10K) to fix our situation. My background is in network security and I am highly technical as well, so I wasn’t ready to give up as yet. I eventually found an issue in our system that allowed the hacker to take advantage of us. I fixed the issue and took care of the cliffhanger situation.

Lesson learnt: You find (very quickly) who your real friends are.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Sandeep: First, start doing content marketing yourself—even before you have built your product. Early adopters of your product, reporters and even investors look for the story behind the product. Get on Medium.com and start publishing your story. Talk about why you are doing what you are doing. What are you seeing that others are not? And very soon, you will start seeing yourself be identified as an “industry expert” on the issue you are trying to solve. That’s free marketing for you even before your product launches!

Second, focus on one thing and one thing only—traction. This could mean different things at different stages of your company. As you start in your venture journey, even getting your domain name feels like a victory, and it should, especially if you have spent time researching the right name (often several hours or even days). Start focusing on external traction as soon as possible, though. This means trying to get your product out as early as possible by distilling the feature set to the most critical ones—sites like producthunt.com help you get early feedback. Some people even create pre-release landing pages for their products and start accepting email signups.

Third, start building a relationship with reporters—getting the right kind of PR is crucial for early stage startups. Create a list of Tier-1 reporters, i.e., reporters in Tier-1 publications in your country who cover your product/industry. Email each one of them announcing that you are building a product/company that they will be interested in and that you are looking to establish a line of communication—send them link to your blogs that cover an industry perspective. If you have insights, offer them. Tell them something they may not already know. Even if they don’t respond right away, they will very likely remember you.

Lastly, don’t forget to take some breaks in between. The startup journey is hard, and oftentimes we forget how important it is to clear one’s mind, slow down the body engine, and charge yourself.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Sandeep: I wouldn’t say everyone—it’s a tough life and has both financial and emotional costs to it. However, the returns are significantly higher as well. For people who are gainfully employed but are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs, I would recommend they spend 50-75% of their salary executing their idea. That will do two things. First, it will prepare you to go to a zero-monthly salary. And second, it will help you gain traction for your idea and if you don’t see it happening or if you find interest dwindling, you can fall back to your existing job.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Sandeep: We haven’t raised outside funding as yet.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Sandeep: We market Leela Labs Inc. through direct reach-out and building relationships with relevant reporters, bloggers, etc. In terms of ad-based marketing, we have used Apple Search Ads and Facebook Ads.

Our growth strategy is to keep adding meaningful content for kids and even for parents. We are also exploring other verticals like Christianity and Sports.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Google App Engine, ElasticSearch, Canva, Keynote, Gimp

Ginger: Thank you Sandeep for sharing your knowledge! I will definitely download the app for my daughter! 🙂

Contact information about Leela Kids!

Website: http://leelalabs.com

Email address: sandeep@leelalabs.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LeelaKidsApp

Twitter account: https://twitter.com/sandejain1

*Featured by Huffington Post and Forbes last December.

Zero Pest

I live in a condo unit and I love it here. One of the disadvantages though is that you can’t control what your neighbours do. For the past few months, it was a blessing that our noisy neighbours stopped shouting and arguing with each other. But the other thing that we can’t control is how clean or tidy they are. I’m assuming that some of them may not be as obsessive with germs as we are. This is prolly the reason why there are little cockroaches that I see every now and then. With this, I wanted to call on pest control professionals. I came across Zero Pest and I was really happy with the service.

I wasn’t there when they did pest control since we had to take Zeeka out of the house, but yaya, like a soldier, reported everything. She said the Zero Pest guy was very thorough. They really went through the entire house. They even explained to yaya what type of cockroaches we had. We had German cockroaches… yup, German! These are the small brown ones and not the big American ones. Anyway, for the past few days, I haven’t see any cockroaches so far.

To share the news about their company, I decided to interview the owner.

The Story of Dominic Reyes Behind Zero Pest

I worked in a call center industry for 7 years during a time when there were just a few companies. I got married and resigned. My wife and I managed a business that my wife inherited from her parents. We managed it for 3 years and sadly, it was slowly failing and we were incurring debts from suppliers. I was forced to get out of it, and tried to make money on my own to help my wife so that the business could survive. That time, I was thinking of putting up another business (but I had no capital) or going back to working in a call center.

This is, I can say one of the life changing decisions I have encountered in my life. I really didn’t know what to do. We had to pay for a lot of things. I feared a lot of things. Plus, during that time, our only son was about to go to normal school, and I can’t even afford to send him. I was crying, totally confused which path to take, so I prayed, asked God to help me and help my family. I really don’t know what to do, so I gave myself to Him and trusted Him. The following day, I received a call, someone was applying as a pest control technician. I looked up and said “You are clearly listening and talking to me, I will not look back, I will just trust You”. Then Zero Pest was born. After seven months, I told my wife to close the old business, and Zero Pest will pay the debts to the suppliers.

Interview with Dominic:

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Dominic: Zero Pest specializes in Pest Management, Cleaning and Disinfection Services. We have been eliminating pests and maintaining homes, commercial buildings, restaurants, residential properties, hospitals, schools, offices and hotels for 7 years.

Ginger: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Dominic: Our market consists of Home/Residential Owners, SME’s and Institutional Accounts. For Homeowners, we simply would like to provide safe solutions to families given that common practice for pest control solution relies heavily on chemicals. We would like to promote a safer and sustainable pest management solutions to Families and Homeowners.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Dominic: The Idea came from our cousins who are doing well from this business. But what made us fully decide is when God answered us from our troubles, and sent us a pest control technician applying for the job. I have very little idea about the industry, but I pushed for it because I consider it as His Gift.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Dominic: I really wanted to be an Entrepreneur even the time I was working in a call center. I most of the time feel bored, and wanted to try to do business, selling I can say is part of my DNA. When I was in college, I sold CDs and Nokia cellphones.

The main obstacle I have encountered is to fit myself in the industry. I have very little idea about it, and pests mostly are in dirty areas. One big obstacle to me is embracing the industry, but I soon realized that this industry is for me. I love nice spaces. I love luxury homes. I love hotels, and this business brought me to the best houses and opulent hotels in the country.

I can say that in all industries they are areas of dislike or not so attractive part of that industry. But at the end of the day, I’m certain that there is that best part of the industry. Also, we just all have to embrace it and learn that the reason why businesses thrive is because it resolves certain problems, so those problems can be profitable.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Dominic: It can be very tempting to give in to the ways of the bad practice (we all know it). But, I always push to do what is right, and so far it has been the practice of our company, doing right and being fair with all our dealings, transactions, and relations.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when
starting their own business?

Dominic: Persistency is one on top of my mind, everything will not go as planned, but focus your eyes on the goal, on your dream, sooner or later, you will find your way up. Also, as for me, humility is a big factor to achieve what you want. Ask for Help. I have always asked God to guide me. There are too many things to decide on, and the fact of the matter is even with due diligence, you will never know how your strategy will find its way to work. So for me, I ask Him, and most of the time, the answer that works is as long as it will benefit your customers, your employees, and your company.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Dominic: I used to think and desire about being number one in the industry, but that gives me so many sleepless nights, so many fears, and so many troubles in operations- unhappiness. I learned to maximize my potential and receive the results with contentment – that simply gives me joy, happiness!

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Dominic: Push for what is right and what is fair.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Dominic: I have friends who are telling me “when can I be like you? I want to start my own business” but to be honest, they are actually doing very well from their work, and earning well. And they can turn off that work mode. Being an entrepreneur, true, gives you freedom from the 8-5pm work hours, but it requires you to be on call for 24 hours. I remember those days when I have to put the phone beside me when I sleep because we decided to operate 24/7. So not all, may not like to go through that, and that is surely fine. There are personalities that may fit on being an entrepreneur, but that is not a bad thing, there are some employees who are more successful than entrepreneurs, so it depends, it is a choice.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Dominic: For my case, we sold our car, we withdraw from our insurance policies, and suppliers provided longer credit terms, but we made sure that suppliers would be paid at the given term. And in doing so, we were able to gain the trust of the suppliers.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Dominic: We have tried different Marketing strategy, and one of the most effective is social media. We create stories from the problems of our customers. We get our audience informed of the pest management solutions we have for a particular pest problem of our customer.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Dominic: Nowadays, a smart phone will make it work.

Ginger: Other things that you want to mention which you think are important

Dominic: Just be sincere in providing solutions to your customers, make them feel that genuine concern of help and everything follows.

Ginger: Thank you, Dominic, for sharing your story. Also, thank you to your team for getting rid of the cockroaches in our home. I really like that your team was very professional (they were actually one hour early). So for the moms and dads out there who want to try out Zero Pest, there are the contact numbers of Zero Pest.

Website: www.zeropestph.com
Email address: info@zeropestph.com
Mobile Number: 455-PEST(7378); 0999-5623204
Facebook Page: Zero Pest Philippines
Instagram account: zeropestph ; homecleanersph

Giveaway Alert!

Dominic was also generous enough to give one lucky winner a General Pest Control Service which normally costs 2,000 – 2,500 per service and another lucky winner a UV disinfection service which normally costs 2,000- 2,500 depending on the area size. This is only open to homes that are located in Metro Manila though!

All you need to do is like the Zero Pest Philippines Page and the Mommy Ginger Facebook Pages. After doing those, please comment on this blog post and share why you want to win either a General Pest Control or UB Disinfection Service! 🙂 We’d love to hear your stories!

The winner will be announced on Nov. 30, 2017! Hurry and join!

The Story behind Memong’s Deli

Rarely do I get teary eyed when I write an interview with an entrepreneur, but this story did it. I normally edit stuff and some words in an interview, but the words Catherine used in this interview was just perfect and very REAL. I didn’t want to touch anything. Catherine Sevilla – Magpayo is the owner of Memong’s Deli. Please do read her story.

————–

I am Catherine Sevilla- Magpayo, teacher by profession, house wife (married for 6 years), mother and budding entrepreneur. I taught preschool for 9 years at St. Paul College, Pasig and Xavier School respectively. This experience trained me a lot about child rearing and helps me until now in handling my own kids. I have 2- Cadee (girl) is 5 years old and Andee (boy) is 3. My first love is baking because I grew up helping my grandmother (who is deaf-mute) bake cakes. She is the one who inspired and influenced me to pursue baking and cooking. Even when I was a child she would encourage me to attend cooking classes during summer breaks. Cooking is more practical to do and I can practice it every day by cooking dishes for my family that is the reason why I was lead to creating dishes for Memong’s Deli. Although my grandmother is one of the people who influenced me in cooking, Memong is my grandfather’s name.

I named the store after my grandfather (who is also deaf-mute) because his name is more unique, and I want to honor the both of them (grandparents) for being such a big influence in our lives (or at least in my life) even if they have physical disabilities.

I resigned from my teaching job after I gave birth to my first born. Technically, I am a full time mother and part-time entrepreneur. I’d rather build the business slowly and still be able to be there for the kids rather be a full time entrepreneur and not be hands on with my kids. As for my future plans, I definitely want this business to be sustainable so I can focus more in taking care of the family. Hopefully, I’ll be able to hire people with disabilities to work for Memong’s so I can show people that these people with disabilities have special needs but this doesn’t or will not stop them from living a full life. Someday, when opportunity knocks, maybe I can open a small cafĂ© or restaurant deli. All these I offer to God who is the greatest provider. I couldn’t have done all this without consistently praying to Him.

Interview with Cathering of Memong’s Deli

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? Memong’s Deli/ Memong’s Homemade Deli House
What is it about?

Catherine: Filipino Breakfast/ Filipino Comfort Food/ Homemade Deli (meaning no preservative, msg, extenders) such as longganisa (garlic, hamonado with garlic and hamonado), beef tapa, chicken tocino, bacon, gourmet tuyo

Ginger: How long have you been in business? Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Catherine: For a year now. Our target market are upper C and B classes, pretty much anyone who likes breakfast food, people who are conscious about what they eat, who wants lean longganisa, kids (especially picky eaters), mothers  When I created the recipies we use in Memong’s Deli, I didn’t really choose the market. It’s more of I wanted to offer people food that they can eat outside of their home that is as delicious and yet tastes like home away from home.  Upper C and B classes are the clientele that mostly dines in our store and buys our frozen food. They can afford it because the price of our food especially the frozen are a tad higher than the “kanto” tapsi places and the longganisa that can be bought in the wet market. The reason is that we offer quality food. Our longganisa is more of Filipino sausage (hotdog- like) rather than the fatty regular longganisa. The meat we use for the beef tapa is round steak that is why it is tender and leaner.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Catherine: I wanted to have my own “kanto” tapsi like Banang. However, while I was concocting my own recipes, I noticed that the ingredients that I was using were expensive and of high quality. I tried costing it into something  cheaper but I noticed that the quality of the food will also go down. I didn’t want to compromise that.

Being a housewife could be very draining and you lose yourself a lot in it. I wanted to become busy with other things. I felt like I didn’t grow much of a person anymore. I was confined at home. There was no balance. I wanted to do more. I wanted to do something beyond the confines of our house. I want to make a difference in the world or at least in our country. Since I am in the food industry, help alleviate hunger or be an advocate of people with disabilities. I am not sure which track I will take yet but at least now I am helping alleviate poverty by providing jobs (even if I have only 3 staff at the moment) I will train them well so I can educate them on the areas where they need help in.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Catherine: There were A LOT of obstacles. To mention a few
 budget, space, personnel, time. As for the budget, we are a one income family. We sacrificed living a more comfortable life when we decided that I will become a house wife. What my husband earns is just enough for the family’s needs. As for the spcace, we live in a condominium that is why we don’t have enough space for storage and doing production with longganisa and tuyo. We are lucky enough to have parents who are very supportive of this decision to enter into a business. Most of the stocks and equipment are at my parents’ house.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Catherine: Food business is very competitive. Filipinos love to eat and are always looking for something new. We have to be inventive, try to always create new recipes for them to enjoy. It is also very difficult nowadays to hire people who have “malasakit”. The number 1 struggle for me is the personnel. They easily get bored, their work is mediocre. They lack discipline that is why it is very important to be hands on. Alongside with that is that they also have different values. What I do is I talk to them every now and then; I encourage them to be open to me, tell me their problems in the store and with their colleagues so we can resolve them right away.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?

Catherine: Passionate, hardworking, focused.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder.

Catherine: I will never forget what my first employees did. After the soft opening, everybody was so tired. We all worked for more than 12 hrs because we had to organize everything for the soft opening on the day of the soft opening. The next day, only one of my staff could go to work because they got so tired and went home late. I told my other staff that it’s ok if he will be late. I was left alone to do the preparations the day after aside from buying the things we need. The next day, no one showed up without any warning or advise whether they could make it or not. I was already so tired and overwhelmed with everything that has been happening. I was thinking, how can I open the store by myself? I just sat down and cried. After I cried everything out, I just prayed and that night it was like no trouble has occurred. My In- laws sent reinforcement (their helpers—2 girls) and my dad sent a boy helper. I learned to be tough and to panic. If all else fails, prayer will be my greatest weapon. I submit to God everything that is out of my league.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Catherine: If you want to have a start up, you have to be hands on. It entails a lot of time and effort. Prepare to lose. You won’t win all the time. Get ready to make your hands dirty. If your staff fails you, you should be able to do things yourself.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Catherine: Anyone can be anything they want if they put their heart to it. If you want something work hard for it. Stay focused. What are ways that you can do to raise capital? Borrow money from parents
 kidding 🙂 start small. Try to think of a way to earn your way up to you bigger goal/s.

Ginger: How do you market your products?

Catherine: I market my products through instagarm and facebook for now. Being at Open Kitchen has also given me so much exposure. I also join contests and bazaars if I can. Growth strategy? Start small. Take one step at a time. Do not rush.

Ginger: Other things that you want to mention which you think are important?

Catherine: Before Memong’s Deli, my friends and I tried to put up a food business called Persian Project because we love kebab. However, due to the non alignment of our schedules, we decided to not to pursue it in the mean time. I’ve always wanted to create something for myself so that’s what I did. I tried to concoct something I can call my own. Thank God it clicked. I owe it all to Him because I really prayed for this.

Ginger: Thank you so much, Catherine, for sharing your lovely story!

This is a testament that great business ideas can also come from lovely memories shared with loved ones. Good times shared with loved ones can serve as an inspiration.

As always, thanks for reading my post!

Create away!

Mommy Ginger

 

 

 

 

P.S. Here are Memong’s Deli Contact Details

Contact information about your business:
Email address: memongsdeli@gmail.com
Mobile Number: 09982014066
Facebook Page: facebook.com/memongsdeli
Instagram account: @memongsdeli

Gruenheim Home Appliances

Recently, I had some people over at my home to help me clean up the place. Yup, that’s right. These guys helped me vacuum my couch, steam my curtains and even took out the hard to clean hardened dirt on my kitchen stove. Kuya Mike and his colleague were a great help! Check out this video!

I interviewed Mr. Mike Gamez of Gruenheim Home Appliances, and his story was very inspiring!

Mike’s Story

I’m Mike Gamez full time entrepreneur. I’m married to Andrea Gamez, and we have 3 kids. My goal in life is to become financially independent, to teach to my kids the right work ethics of an entrepreneur and to inspire others to start their own business.


 

Interview with Mike Gamez of Gruenheim Home Appliances

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Mike: We started the business on August 08, 2014. The registered business name is GREEN GRACE SUCCESS, INC. Our Primary line of business is trading thru direct selling of GRUENHEIM Home Appliances.

This brand is based in Stuttgart, Germany. Under their brand, they have the GRUENHEIM Vacuum Cleaning System with Ecological Pure Water Filter Technology made in Germany, the GRUENHEIM Steam Cleaning System with Innovative Industrial Technology, which is made in Italy, and the GRUENHEIM Water Filtration System thru Reverse Osmosis Plus Alkaline Filter, which is also made in ITALY.

Our secondary line of business is we offer home cleaning services, and we offer deep cleaning, shampooing, steam cleaning and sterilizing of bed mattresses, pillows, stuffed toys, sofa, curtains, blinds, roman shades, upholstered chairs, carpets and car interiors. I have been in this line of business for almost 15 years (3 years distributing GRUENHEIM Home Appliances).


Ginger: Who is your target market?

Mike: Our target market for GRUENHEIM HOME APPLIANCES is Class A,B,C,D. Newlywed couples, family with small children that has breathing problems or allergies, picky housekeepers (OC), with house pets, likes to buy high quality products, the one that are looking for cleaning equipments, Need part time selling job.

Our target market for our CLEANING SERVICES DIVISION are the picky housekeepers, household owners with no helpers, household owners that are still saving to purchase GRUENHEIM cleaning machines, expats temporarily residing here in Manila, offices and restaurants. Also, we have rent a GRUENHEIM vacuum cleaner. Some of our customers avail this for 1 time general cleaning of their houses. Some want to try if the machine is effective or easy to use and eventually they will buy a GRUENHEIM Vacuum.

 

Ginger: Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Mike: I chose this market because these are the people who are very particular with their health, wellness and cleanliness. The people in this market want to give the best for their family and they want to give a bright future to their children. Also, they choose quality and value for their money.

For me, doing direct selling and personalized cleaning service has such a huge market and is a sustainable business, because Filipinos want a “personalized” approach to selling, and have big expectations in terms of customer service.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea?

Mike: I have learned this from my past experiences.

Ginger: What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Mike: After I graduated in college, my uncle Gerry, who was a Distributor of direct selling company of Vacuum Cleaners recruited me to join on his team as full time commission sales agent. I am very thankful to him that he patiently trained me. Through the years of my career, I gained selling and entrepreneurial skills. I was looking for the opportunity to utilize all the skills that I have learned to achieve my goal, which is to give the customer high quality products and services at a reasonable price, so I decided to put my own company.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Mike: Becoming an Entrepreneur has full of challenges and obstacles, one of them was how to start a business and what are the best strategies to promote and to patronize my target market.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Mike: The greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in this country is the high cost of gasoline and traffic, because our marketing strategy is to go to customers’ house for home demonstration every day. Also, not to mention the not-so-fast system of our Customs to process the releasing of goods/cargo that cost us a lot on storage payment and time/opportunity cost.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?

Mike: For me an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder must have generalist mindset, meaning we need to know the every aspects in our business then focus on our strength and delegate to the team what is our weaknesses. The “Serving more” mindset is second. This is like what Robert Kiyosaki says, that if you serve more then you will earn more. Entrepreneurs must be trustworthy — TRUST is our intangible assets .

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Mike: The lesson I learned was to focus on what is important for the business. Keep it simple and sweet ika nga! I mean not to diversify again on other kind of business that is not my forte for now. Dapat pala may continuous learning and have dominant mindset in my chosen line of business.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Mike: Be happy! Let us continue providing jobs to help our country and give back.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Mike: Yes, I believe that everyone should become entrepreneur or have at least an entrepreneurial mindset. We have a big chance to become financially independent and imagine if all of our government officials had an entrepreneurial mindset, like being more prudent in spending and investing or being a benevolent leader.  For sure, we will prosper as a nation.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Mike: As a startup, what I do to raise capital is from personal savings, borrowed from relatives and company loan from the bank. But of course, the best way is to sell more GRUENHEIM Products (actual sales) and to serve more customers with our cleaning services.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Mike: As of now, we market our products thru direct selling, thru word of mouth system strategy, and as of now we have satellite office in Cebu, and we have plans to tap Davao and CDO market next year.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Mike: As of now, we use IG and Facebook to promote our products and service, but we’re still not fully maximizing the others new platforms and tech tools. There are a lot of things to improve.

 

Ginger: Thank you so much for your time, Mike! You’re story shows that regardless of the business model or the product or service that you are selling, we all can have that entrepreneurial mindset and spirit! Good luck and more power to you on your business!

Contact information about your business:

Website: www.gruenheim.ph
Email address: gruenheimphils@yahoo.com
Mobile Number: 0917 5984968 or 0917 8790133
Instagram account: mikegamez_atyourservice

All About Raw Bites

For our entrepreneur interview, today, we’re featuring Gail, the founder of Raw Bites. I don’t remember where I saw Raw Bites, but I remember thinking that this was such a cool idea!  This is a sample of a box that you can get from Raw Bites. So to tell you more about this amazing idea and brand, here is their story!

Raw bites was founded by Nathania Gail Go & Jane Heather Dee. Gail is not your average girl. An MBA graduate, she has eight years of marketing experience in consumer packaged goods, advertising, and retail in the food and beverage market. She loves peanut butter and toast with a side of jam or banana in the mornings. Her favorite snacks are savoury popcorn, especially White Cheddar and Chocnut. When not working, she goes for outdoor workouts, watches Korean shows or old chick flicks and loves to daydream.

Jane worked with various international start-ups until she finally decided to start her own. She’s a natural at all things technical, from building websites to managing e-commerce sites. Her favorite snack is granola with fresh fruit and yogurt, or a berry smoothie any time of the day. If she’s not busy on her laptop or setting up meetings, she loves to play with her dogs or prepare for her next trip. 

Both Gail & Jane have been friends since their grade school years.

 

Interview Questions:

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Gail: Our business is called Raw Bites – it’s the first healthy snacks subscription box in the Philippines; think the newest superfoods, wholefood bars, nut butters, veggie and fruit chips, protein balls, raw chocolates, freeze dried fruits, super blends or gluten-free cereals. The business just launched its website last Feb 15th and had its first box shipment in April. Since then, it has shipped close to 1000 boxes to consumers and businesses.

Ginger: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Gail: Main target market are women ages 25-40 years old who reside in metro cities (metro manila, cebu, davao, and the like). Their buying motivation is to have a healthier diet and lifestyle and try new niche products that are not available from local players.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Gail: We really started with the idea of just bringing in healthy snacks into the Philippines since both of us have been exposed to these great-tasting healthy snacks while we were based abroad. But we didn’t want to be just a grocery store, we wanted to promote a more holistic lifestyle where we can promote good nutrition and healthy living.

We understand that being healthy here is quite a challenge especially if you’re stuck in an office job, let alone the traffic that you have to endure everyday. Although we do not promise any weight-loss or some form of healing by eating our snacks, we know that by substituting your regular junk-food chips for one of our bars, you’re on your way to a healthier and fitter you!

Our box doesn’t just include healthy snacks, we also partnered with like-minded brands to complement our products. These would be in the form of vouchers (i.e. trial passes to a fitness studio, discounts, etc)

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Gail: Becoming an entrepreneur is exciting and scary at the same time. It is the letting go of a steady salary and pretty much starting from scratch. What we pay ourselves now is really nothing compared to how much we could earn if we kept our current jobs but we both knew that if we didn’t leave our previous jobs and did Raw Bites as a part-time, it wouldn’t be as successful as it could be. Luckily, we have our support group – family, partners, and each other to keep ourselves going.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Gail: In full honesty, doing business in the Philippines is very challenging – probably one of the toughest place to do a start-up. Where processes should only take days or maximum a week on other countries, it takes months here. However, we are both strong-willed so we find ways in which we can succeed. We always have contingency plans when things go as planned. We always remind ourselves that our attitude is how we differentiate ourselves from those who settle for what’s just the norm here.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?

Gail: Resilience, patience, and humility. Resilience to conquer challenges. Patience to fully dedicate themselves 24/7 without immediate results. Humility to learn from other and their own mistakes.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Gail: That first sale from a friend. That first sale from a stranger. That first month when we sold out. That first delivery. That first partnership. Too many unforgettable moments that we’ll always remember.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Gail: Do your business plan – from vision to financial projections to marketing plan even if you’re just doing it for yourself. A business plan forces you to assess possible scenarios and see the potential of a business idea. Don’t be afraid to share it to someone. Don’t be afraid to change it. Don’t be afraid to make iterations even if you’ve launched your business. Know what your strengths are and outsource where you’re weak at. Everyday is a learning process.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Gail: No. It takes a certain personality to be able to be a full-fledged entrepreneur.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Gail: Start with your own. Then approach friends and family – people you really trust. Make sure you keep the biggest share % so that when you need another round of fundraising, you don’t dilute yourself too much.

There are also other ways like crownsourcing, angel investment, VCs, etc. but know the pros & cons for such. Remember, the more external capital you receive, the less ownership you have of your business.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Gail: It really depends on your target market. We do a lot of digital marketing esp. since people can only subscribe online. We partner with like-minded brands. We activate in relevant events. We aim provide amazing customer service as we rely on repeat purchases.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Gail: Nothing too special – Shopify for our e-commerce site (although we had to customize it a lot, thanks to Jane), Adobe Creative Suite for all our graphics (thanks to Gail), FB and IG ads, Mailchimp for newsletter, and Quickbooks for accounting (on top of our real accountant).

Ginger: Other things that you want to mention which you think are important

Email us at hello@rawbites.com.ph if you have any more questions
 but please don’t ask us where we had our box made. We get that a lot.

Ginger: haha! Thank you so much for your time, Gail! 🙂 More power to your company!

 

Contact information about your business:

Website – rawbites.com.ph

Email address – hello@rawbites.com.ph

Mobile Number – +63 917 839 2268

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/rawbitesbox/

Twitter account – @rawbitesbox

Instagram account – @rawbitesbox

Pinterest, etc. – @rawbitesbox

When Worlds Collide

As a small business owner, we need quality work but at the same time, something that would be affordable while building our business. We also value relationships. We want to work with suppliers and entities who get us and who we see have the same vision and values as ours. In Manila Workshops, we have been creating workshops for aspiring and current business owners and freelancers. For our events, we need photographers and videographers that we can partner with. We were lucky enough to have met When Worlds Collide!

Today, I am very honored to feature Julianne Caparos and her soon-to-be-husband Timothy Fernandez from When Worlds Collide!

The Story of Julianne Caparos of When Worlds Collide

Most of my childhood years was spent in Dubai then at the age of 13 my family and I then moved to Botswana, Africa, then moved back to the Philippines to study and eventually work. Since I was young, my dad loved taking photos using his SLR (film camera), and I’ve always loved art. Because of that, I got interested in photography and wanted to pursue it, initially as a hobby and not as a business.

Then back in 2014 when I was still working at Smart, I met Tim and he wasn’t the type of person who was into photography. But when we became a couple, he supported me and my hobby in photography. I was that girl who would take photos before eating and taking photos of every corner when travelling. On our first date we went to the Mind Museum, because Tim liked museums and I wanted to take photos inside (haha!). At one point we thought of creating a blog but that drained us out; it wasn’t fun for us. Then eventually, families and friends would ask us to cover their birthday events until the point we got our very first Client.

Julianne and Timothy of When Worlds Collide

When Worlds Collide is actually our sideline business, for now we both still have full time day jobs. Hopefully in 2 years time, I can do it full time already.

when Worlds Collide

Interview with Julianne of When Worlds Collide:

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business?  What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Julianne: When Worlds Collide is a photography business. It actually started out as a blog because we thought it was a way to do what we love, which is photography but we realized we didn’t enjoy the writing part of blogging lol! More on capturing that moment already says a lot for Tim and I. Then my best friend decided to tag me along with one of her photoshoot gigs and that’s when we realized how much we enjoyed it and that was just last September 2016.

Ginger: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Julianne: Our target market would be young families who just started raising kids. We chose this market, specifically for me, is because I love kids and their every reaction is just priceless. These days everyone is pretty much tech savvy and thanks to technology we can treasure every moment that we have through digital photographs and that’s one of our main goals, to provide a photo keepsakes for our clients.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Julianne: Well, it just started out as a hobby but after that push we got last year, we decided to give it a try with a couple more photoshoot gigs and see how it would go and so far it turns out to be great.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Julianne: A lot! lol! It was fun but at the same time difficult. Difficult in terms of handling different clients and their expectations. The biggest obstacle probably was getting people to trust our services at the beginning, which I guess is normal for all.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Julianne: Greatest challenge with our type of business is competing with others in the same business. Other than that meeting the budget of various clients.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?

Julianne: “Courage” to start your business, “patience” especially with Clients, along the way you’ll learn how to handle different situations and “passion” because without it, I feel a business would never succeed.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or  lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Julianne: The very first shoot I did and got paid, that was definitely an unforgettable moment. The biggest lesson I learned? bargaining our rates with Clients. At first it was difficult to say “nope our rates are fixed” thinking that we wouldn’t get any clients that way, but I had to be firm and along the way we lost Clients because we didn’t meet their budget. However, we also did gain a new base of Clients who trusts our services so far.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Julianne: Our advice to other aspiring Entrepreneurs is to make that first leap, you’ll never if your dream business will work if you don’t take action. As to Entrepreneurs who are just starting out just like Tim and I, don’t give up, you will get a lot of praises at the same time unsatisfied Clients but you’ll learn on how to improve and become more successful.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Julianne: I think everyone can but not everyone should become entrepreneurs. You need to love what you do and not feel like it’s a routine or pushing yourself just to make ends meet.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Julianne: In a photography business, your main investment are your gears. We started just last September 2016 but we started buying our gadgets as early as 2014, all from the money we make from working at our 9-5 day jobs and and sometimes from our parents who are ever supportive.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Julianne: Through Facebook groups, word of mouth and at times through xdeals with other Entrepreneurs who are just starting out. Our long term plan is actually to have an office space already, probably a studio but for now my goal is to further enhance my skills in this business.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Julianne: Facebook and our website to promote and communicate with our Clients. Lightroom, After Effects and wetransfer/dropbox for editing and transferring of files.

Ginger: Thank you so much, Julianne, and of course to Tim, too! Thank you for supporting Manila Workshops and I hope you continue to inspire and grow your business! 

 

Contact information of When Worlds Collide:

Website: http://whenworldscollide.ph

Email address: whenworldscollideph@gmail.com

Mobile Number: 09178368418

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/whenworldscollidephotography/

Plush and Play: Interview with Fabien Courteille

I have heard so many great stories about people starting social entrepreneurship businesses. Two of my friends have successful social entrepreneurship businesses, Ron and Nikki or Bayani Brew and Kat of Aurelia and Amelia!

Today, I’m so proud to share with you a story of another founder who started a social entrepreneurship business called Plush and Play. His name is Fabien Courteille.

The Fabien Courteille Story

I was born on January 29, 1989 to a middle class family in Normandie, France and was raised by loving and caring parents. After graduating in a science high school, I took up Bachelor of Business Administration in a public school before migrating to the south of France to take up Master in Entrepreneurship. At the age of 21, I was still looking for a real concrete business idea to start with and was questioning the role of businesses in the society in terms of ethics, social and environmental responsibility.

I have been looking for my purpose and to be able to do something meaningful with my life when I heard about Gawad Kalinga’s social entrepreneurship vision. I started out as a volunteer when I first came to the Philippines. After being immersed in the countryside, I have experienced the world-famous Filipino hospitality. I was living with the GK beneficiaries, sharing meals with them (Adobo every meal… haha!) and sleeping under the same roof while having absolutely nothing in common with them. They taught me how to expand my definition of family.

My foster mother was an orphan at an early age but still managed to take care of herself. She eventually became a seamstress in a factory until she lost her job due to the retrenchment of the manufacturing facility like many others. Her undying commitment and love for her children to be able to have a good education was her driving force to take any underpaid and limiting opportunities in order to earn a few pesos. Often times, her earnings were still not enough to provide for their meals. I found it unfair that millions of mothers in the Philippines are exactly like her – too much effort on really strenuous physical activities with a bad compensation system. Basically, I just wanted to give them a real chance to succeed. 🙂

Interview with Fabien of Plush and Play

Ginger: Hi Fabien! Can you tell everyone what your business is all about?

Fabien: Plush and Play is a social enterprise born in the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, highlighting the undervalued sewing skills of the mothers of Bulacan to create proudly Filipino toys. Ultimately, we envision to be the leading Filipino global toy company inspiring generations of young heroes and nation builders and contributing to the ultimate goal of Gawad Kalinga which is to end poverty in the country for 5 million families by 2024. Our major goals are to provide sources of income for over 500 poor families in the countryside, to inspire a new generation of Filipino children, to improve local standards in the toy industry and to make the Philippines a country where no children will ever grow up without toys.

Being based in a farm, our first line of products is composed of fruits and vegetables with names inspired by local icons like Manny Pakwan, Buko Martin, and Anne Kamatis. We also make customized plush giveaways or mascots for companies like Maynilad, Landbank, Shell, Accenture, Mentos, etc.. Moreover, we conduct toy making activities in order to teach kids how to handcraft their very own plush toy.

Our tagline is “Hand-Stitched with Love, Stuffed with Dreams!”

Ginger: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Fabien: Our target market is three-fold:

  • We target socially responsible, nurturing and loving mothers. We offer them affordable, socially responsible and safe products handcrafted with love and inspired by Filipino values and sense of humor, unlike imported toys from China that are of poor quality and many of which are also hazardous to their kids’ health.
  • We target corporations and government agencies that want to strengthen and reward the loyalty of their clients and employees by gifting them with original giveaways. We offer them highly customizable and world-class quality products made with love.
  • Finally we target the young at heart, mostly with age demographics between ten to twenty years old, that want cute, fun and meaningful items like toys, keychains, tote bags, pouches, etc


Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Fabien: I chose this industry for three main reasons:

(1) To restore the sewing industry

First, the province of Bulacan used to be the Philippines’ pride when it comes to sewing and garments but over the past decade hundreds of factories have been closing down and thousands of mothers have lost their jobs and were left behind with the only option of becoming domestic workers in Manila or abroad. There were mothers in the community who used to be seamstresses but were left jobless when big textile companies started outsourcing their production to China or Cambodia.

(2) To come up with safe toys

Second, we realized that the local market was flooded with low quality imported products, including children’s stuffed toys without any connection to the local culture.

(3) My love and fondness for kids

And lastly, I was becoming the godfather of plenty of kids in the community and I never knew what to offer them. Inspired by the thousands of kids in the GK Communities, I went for the idea of creating stuffed toys.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these? What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Fabien: Well, I believe being an entrepreneur is all about facing obstacles and finding ways to overcome them every day. My role is to keep the business running, to continue growing it and to reach out to more beneficiaries. We started venturing into an industry where I was totally ignorant, I have never used a sewing machine before coming to the Philippines so a lot of things had to be learned by doing.

Since I am not Filipino I have to deal with the various restrictions in the Philippines in terms of ownership, position or signatory rights and it is not necessarily easy.

We also started our company without capital. We started with only five thousand pesos so our team had to be extra careful on how to spend every peso and make sure to get the best value out of it. If you can’t afford anyone to do something, you need to do it yourself.

The industry that we are part of is very seasonal so we need to keep on finding ways to keep our cashflow in a good position for the rest of the year. Moreover, this is a market flooded by extremely cheap products so we also have to show and create more value for the customers to be able to generate more sales.

Since we are a social enterprise, we deal with communities everyday. Everything that happens within the community and their household affects the operations of the company and vice versa. Of course having fifty families living and working together creates a lot of situations, tensions and arguments therefore it is always difficult to keep it professional.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?

Fabien:

  1. He or she should be committeed. It is not a hobby and it is more than a full time job.
  2. He or she should learn how to surrender himself/herself with the right people as it takes a team to run an organization.
  3. He or she should lead by example, be ready to do whatever job needs to be done and definitely understand the needs of all stakeholders (customers, the beneficiaries, staff , etc
)

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Fabien: One of the most unforgettable moments is when we brought the first Filipino toy to Toy Kingdom. It was a big statement and a big celebration for our seamstresses. We were also the only Filipino brand to take part in the toy expo held at SMX Convention Center. On a personal note, making it to the Top 5 of the BPI Sinag out of 150 entries was something to remember as well.

It was very important for me to understand the situation of the mothers in order to properly work with them and support them. Since I am not a Filipino, nor a woman nor a mother, I thought to be with them for the past six years to ensure that I can connect with them and to fully understand their needs. Aside from that, I knew that I had to make them experience things outside of their usual environment so they can also understand the concepts of quality control, excellence, and customer expectations. We would take them to Manila from time to time and have a fieldtrip for them to see other products in high-end malls like Rockwell. Until today, I am still striving to understand their needs and vice versa. It is a constant learning experience for all of us as our enterprise continues to grow and thrive.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Fabien: My advice is something that I have heard so many times before which is to not give up! Furthermore, one should not compromise or take shortcuts. It takes hard work and integrity to build a solid enterprise to be proud of. Do not mind the negative comments or words of discouragement because the more people say that you are crazy the more you should move forward. After all, the greatest inventors and entrepreneurs in history were either crazy or different so there is nothing wrong about it. HAHA

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Fabien: I believe that everyone should be entrepreneurial, be pro-active, and be on the look out for innovative ideas wherever you work or whatever position you hold because this is what the organization needs to constantly improve. However, I am not sure if everyone should start their own enterprise because running an enterprise is not easy and is not a one man show. You need to bring in people into your organization that have complimentary skill sets in order to move forward with the over-all company objective.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Fabien: From the beginning we have been financing all our operations through our cash flow. This is achieved based on our own sales revenues and we just received two sets of grants to build our new workshop of about three hundred square meters in Bulacan. This will allow us to increase production capacity, which would have a potential increase in revenues.

In addition, because of being one the winners of the BPI Sinag competition, the bank gave us access to their credit line whenever we feel the need to make a loan. Also, we have been able to establish preferential payment terms from some our clients such as fifty percent down payment since they understand our commitment to pay the salaries of our community partners on a weekly basis compare to the usual 30 to 90 days payment terms.

Aside from these, several investors have approached us and we plan to open our capital to new equity investment from impact investors this year. This will be used to invest in opening our own concept store in the city, improving our marketing efforts and increasing our staff members.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Fabien: We sell our regular toys at the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan. Since we know that the market is in Metro Manila we have partnered with several retail stores that are carrying our products. These are Toy Kingdom SM Megamall, The Parenting Emporium, The Philippine Artisan Trade, Yiippee Store, Able Store, and Hop/Bop Shop. Another growing platform in the country is online sales so we established and partnered with some online sites such as our own website, Lazada, Shopinas, and The Good Store. We also sell in bazaars and sometimes participate in a corporate road show.  All in all, we are currently retailing in 6 outlets in Metro Manila with the possibility to expand to thirty-seven other Toy Kingdom outlets. We are also looking into starting a partnership with Toys ‘R Us in the near future.

Another sales channel is creating customized giveaways for corporations or individuals (special gifts, event giveaways, etc). We also started organizing tailored community outreach programs with our corporate partners. Our biggest revenue comes from our corporate clients, some of which have contracts that are as big as twenty thousand dollars. GK is working with 700 corporations and other private institutions. Among this number, we have engaged with over 30 corporations already but our margin for growth is extremely high as we are reaching out to more of them every week.

We have also started making school mascots with the prestigious school of De La Salle University, with over thirty thousand student population with hundreds and thousands of alumni which are now key decision makers in the country. Once successful, we will then replicate this model and work with other private schools in the country.

Aside from selling products, we also conduct toy making workshops and activities for schools and other celebrations. It is a growing channel right now.

In marketing, we leverage the networks of Gawad Kalinga and the parenting community such as The Parenting Emporium. We also greatly use our own social media channels to gain more awareness about the company.

Partners in Malaysia, Singapore, United States and Europe have approached us already to expand beyond the Philippines. This is a key step to a future regional expansion and eventually outside of South East Asia.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Fabien: We are mostly active online: We have our own wordpress website and eshop. We are also proactive on social media including Facebook Ads.

Ginger: Thank you Fabien for that wonderful story. I’m sure other people who want to start their own social enterprise learned a lot from reading this! Thank you for sharing your talent and for helping the Philippines in ways you know how.

If you want to know more about Plush and Play, here are their contact information and links:

Website: www.plushandplay.com

Email address: plushandplay@yahoo.com

Mobile Number: 09175264941

Facebook Page: https://web.facebook.com/PlushAndPlay

Instagram account: http://instagram.com/plushandplay

Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/plushandplay/