Today, I’m so honored to be sharing such an endearing story from parents of a little lady named Zen, who started a business called Development Depot or Dev Depot.
We know that it’s essential to for our kids to always be physically fit and strong. We do this by encouraging them to exercise and get into different kinds of physical activities and sports. Today, our feature is about Brian Tan’s business where they create pediatric therapy equipment, kids’ furniture, wooden toys, and Montessori materials. What I love about them is that all their products are made by Filipinos, from start to finish.
The Story of Dev Depot
Brian and Anne started their business because of their daughter Zen who is living with Down Syndrome. They said that their daughter started physical therapy at just 2 months old. Ideally, families should replicate what happens during therapy at home (since therapy is just a couple of hours per week). They sourced for therapy equipment that we can use at home, and in doing this, we saw the need for locally-produced equipment. Since a lot of these items are huge, shipping from overseas will more than double the price. Brian then did a crash course in woodworking to be able to make the items that their daughter needs.
Their mission is to provide high-quality, sustainability-sourced play and therapy equipment to Filipinos.
They do in-house manufacturing, marketing and sales, as well as event rentals. Mommy Anne does most of the marketing, customer service, and market research tasks. Daddy Brian, on the other hand, plans the design and also is very hands-on with production. They have assistant craftsmen on board, who help mostly with sanding, painting and finishing. For the functions that are beyond their main competencies, such as wood milling and latheworks, they outsource the work. They also launched our #OnTheGoPlayground a few months ago, which is basically a mobile play area for playdates, parties, photo shoots.
Business and How the Corona Virus (COVID-19) Affected their Business
As you can imagine, events-related businesses are one of the most affected by the pandemic. All their events were rescheduled to a later part of the year. They are also unable to finish and deliver (and consequently collect) a few huge orders because of the Community Quarantine. Mang Boy, one of our assistant craftsmen, is unable to come to work as well. With the help of a few friends who pitched in, they opted to give him his wages even if he doesn’t come to work, to help tide his family through this crisis.
When asked about what help our countrymen and the community can offer, they mentioned that word of mouth marketing / advertising is more than enough help for them.
“We currently have a couple thousand followers on Instagram. Still a small number, and we’d love to reach more moms, therapists, and school-owners – people needing our products but sincerely have no idea that such things are available from local builders,” added the couple.
The couple also mentioned that it’s so difficult to compete with mass-produced items from nearby Asian countries. The other countries really sell at such a low price. Their edge is providing value for money instead by choosing quality raw materials. This makes their products durable, lead and toxin-free, child-safe, made with love – the works! “Though we have a long way to go in promoting locally-made products, we are thankful for initiatives like this which seek to help Philippine businesses like ours,” the couple added.
Since this unforeseen event happened, I asked them what changes will they be implementing in their business. They said that they would probably set aside a buffer for emergencies in our working capital. Since this is a first for many of us, quite a number of medium-scale businesses are struggling to provide weeks to months worth of salaries to their employees.
They continue to say that as much as they’d like (and other business would like) to give enough until the Community Quarantine ends, many businesses are still trying to cope with its financial impact, and they can only do so much in providing the emergency funds that our people and partners need.
They say that the lesson that they have learned is to put in place business continuity / contingency plans. Also, business owners should provide emergency healthcare benefits to all employees.
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