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.

dev depot logo

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.

Dev Depot equipment

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.

Brian and Anne with Zen of Dev Depot

“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.

To follow and spread the word about Dev Depot, please visit https://facebook.com/devdepotph and https://www.instagram.com/devdepotph/ on Instagram.

Thanks for continuously reading these SME and local business features!

P.S. Please follow https://www.facebook.com/groups/BounceBackPH/ to see how you can support the Philippines.

P.P.S. Please follow #BounceBackforBusiness #GInspiration #GoLocalPH for more Local SME and Professional stories that we can support!

P.P.S. If you want to be featured next, please visit this link https://mommyginger.com/smes-and-professionals-unite-during-this-time-of-crisis.html

Looking out my window here in BGC, I don’t see any movement. This enhanced community quarantine has turned this hustling and bustling place into a quiet and somewhat eerie neighborhood. Weirdly so, I miss seeing people and cars.

This got me thinking about the Auto Industry. How are businesses in this industry doing. Fortunately, Automart.ph, one of the startups in this environment is the hero of my feature today. Here is my interview with the founder of Automart.ph, Poch Ceballos.

Ginger: Hi Poch! Can you tell readers more about Automart.ph?

Poch: We sell used and repossessed cars at prices far cheaper than what you can get from most dealers and marketplaces. We follow a strict “no patong” or no premium over what the suppliers sell the units for, so you’re assured that you get the lowest rates possible always.

Poch Ceballos from Automart.ph

While buying a brand new car is always a nice goal – and the brand new smell can be intoxicating – it’s simply not a practical choice especially with a global recession looming. Automart.Ph has a lot of almost-new and very high quality cars, at around 30-50% lower prices vs brand new cars. That’s the practical way to go about it. We have branches and car lots in QC, Paranaque, Cebu and Davao.

Ginger: I agree with that during this time, it may be wise to really think about purchases and having this option from Automart.ph for buying cars is great. So tell us, why did you start your business? And what is your mission? 

Poch: Our mission is to provide Assets for All. We provide practical, low-cost options for Filipinos nationwide, especially for items that are normally very expensive, like cars.

Ginger: To give people insights on different business models out there, can you describe your business model?

Poch: We work with suppliers who need to sell cars and place their inventory on our site. In return, we get a small commission for every sale.

Ginger: So, Poch, everyone’s talking about the Pandemic. Can you share how was Automart.ph and you as a founder impacted by this pandemic both or either positively or negatively? Were you also impacted by the Enhanced Community Quarantine? 

Poch: Our folks are doing study-from-home, and we’re upskilling them so that once we’re ready to go back to work, they’ll have more and better skills.

Ginger: I love companies who give high regard for their employees. How about your company? How can people help you moving forward? What kind of help are you looking for? 

Poch: I’d love to encourage and ask them to buy used and repossessed cars from us, instead of brand new. It’s cheaper, kinder to the environment since nothing new is produced.

Ginger: Because of the things happening now, what changes will you be implementing in your business? 

Poch: We might be trading down – selling even lower-priced cars than before. We’ll also be working with more partners who need help disposing of their added inventory.

Ginger: To end this interview, Poch, what are the business lessons that you have learned from this? 

Poch: You must be able to weather sudden downturns – have enough reserves if possible, and be kind to your employees. If you can have them work from home or study from home, do so.

Ginger: Thank you so much and more power to Automart.ph.

For those interested in collaborating or purchasing, please visit: https://automart.ph

Facebook: https://facebook.com/automartph

Instagram: https://instagram.com/automartph

Thanks for reading these SME and local business features!

P.S. Please follow https://www.facebook.com/groups/BounceBackPH/ to see how you can support the Philippines.

P.P.S. Please follow #BounceBackforBusiness #GInspiration #GoLocalPH for more Local SME and Professional stories that we can support!

P.P.S. If you want to be featured next, please visit this link https://mommyginger.com/smes-and-professionals-unite-during-this-time-of-crisis.html

During situations like this, I’ve noticed that a lot of people flock to get news and information on Viber and other chat-based channels. Johanson Dy Cheng, the founder of www.entrepnegosyo.com and www.emarket.com.ph, is using his community to help others in this time of crisis.

Johan founded these websites to help share general and specific information regarding business and commerce needed by up-and-coming young entrepreneurs. These avenues for learning is not only a simple and
necessary networking tool, it also serves as a communication link for already well established and successful businessmen and tycoons, whether local or international.

About the Founder

Johan graduated from Jubilee Christian Academy in 1996 and from De La Salle University- College of Saint Benilde in 2000, with a Bachelor of Science degree, major in Industrial Design.

He is no stranger to hard work as values like this were passed on to him from parents and family that handles various business endeavors. He was an academically gifted student, and was chosen as one of the select industrial design delegates sent by his school to the Industrial Design Forum held in Sydney, Australia from 1999 to 2000 under the umbrella of the Biennial Congress of International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.
When he graduated in 2000, he was conferred as one of the Ten Most Outstanding Student Leaders of all school organizations with the COPS Bahaghari Award of De La Salle University.

While in college at the De La Salle University, he was cited and included five times in the Dean’s List.

His professional career spans both the private and volunteer sectors. His work in the private sector began immediately after his graduation from college, when he joined the family-owned House of Accessories, where
he assisted in handling inquiries and purchasing of products from different Asian countries. During this time, he was working simultaneously as a bank trainee with China Banking Corporation in the year 2000, focusing on the analysis of financial statements of companies obtaining loans.

For the next 13 years, he worked for the banking industry’s giants. Among them were Standard Chartered Bank from 2000-2005. He was pirated from by Citibank from 2005 to 2010, where he rose from the ranks of trainee to Customer Relationship Manager. All the experiences he accumulated during his days in banking prepared him for entrepreneurship.

About EntrepNegosyo

In 2005, Johanson started EntrepNegosyo, an information gateway intended for the Philippine business community. It provided business news, bulletins, research and technology advancements that helped promote entrepreneurship literacy. His aim was to create global impact by empowering young Filipino entrepreneurs to be leaders, and taking the initiative in finding community solutions.

A passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, he envisioned EntrepNegosyo to be a universal portal where start-up companies could utilize shared resources from partners across the globe. To date, EntrepNegosyo has
more than 5,000 start-up subscribers as well as Small and Medium Industries (SMEs) taking advantage of its easy-to-use portal.

On his EntrepNegosyo Facebook site, Johan has created a dynamic meeting ground that allows its voluminous membership to expand their businesses while networking with one another, through active social media interaction. Relevant and valuable daily business advice and bulletins are part of the EntrepNepsyo’s regular menu, as well as inspirational talks from featured speakers. His work today allows young Filipino entrepreneurs the information and support to start, to grow, to network and to succeed in their chosen business endeavors through direct exposure to the working opportunities offered in his two social media sites.

By pioneering this online Philippine business community page for Filipino entrepreneurs, Cheng was able to pursue his passion for web and industrial design. Johan considers it a rare opportunity to work at something that he is very passionate for. Apart from this, Johanson has also involved himself in several other ventures: As social media and business development head of Philip Leonard Furniture; as Vice-President for Business Information Technology at Real Estate HUB, LLC; and as Sales Representative at AutoKid Group of Companies. Johan’s career in the volunteer sector began in 2000, when he joined Junior Chamber International (JCI) Manila. Here he further honed his leadership abilities, becoming chairman for different standing committees. He was soon an invaluable, eager member, driven by his innate desire to be of assistance to everyone.

Johan’s Working Dream

It was during his years as a member of JCI Manila that he found his second calling —that of spending much of his time in humanitarian aid and development, onsite rescue and relief operations. He also found himself in resource mobilization for healthcare delivery. He assisted also in bolstering capacities of existing outposts for basic services.

He was drawn most to caring for children with disabilities, having realized that it was the most marginalized and ignored groups of children today, most especially those afflicted with cerebral palsy. It was then that he
decided to pursue a lifelong mission of uplifting the lives of children with disabilities in the Philippines by creating awareness, educating stakeholders and providing appropriate opportunities for development and a better life.

He started his spiritual ministry at a very early age, actively serving as a volunteer for the Christian Bible Church of the Philippines in his local community at Talayan Village, in Quezon City. A devout Christian, he has
since worked closely with various parishes and charitable institutions, including continuing support for the Christ Commission Fellowship composed by lay men and women who share God’s love and the Gospel.

Today, much of his ministry has been devoted to children with disabilities. He has made this his life’s work, going to hospitals to visit and pray with patients daily after work. He will usually take with him his friends from church and colleagues from JCI Manila to provide comfort and hope to the seriously ill.

Johan is like the “energizer bunny,” never running out of energy to do whatever he can in a day which seems to be lacking in hours for this workaholic who detests holidays. Johan seems to have mastered time
management to perfection. He sleeps only three to four hours daily as he always is on the go whenever he is called. He spends a lot of his time meeting with his “Golden Heart” team in looking for ways to further reach out to more children.

Can you describe your business model? How can you earn? 

Johan earns through domain reselling and through the e-commerce platform.

How were you impacted by this pandemic? How were you impacted by the Enhanced Community Quarantine? 

At this time, Johan says that there is no chance to do social networking and business networking. He would like to get the word out that SMEs can use the platforms that he has to promote their businesses.

How can people help you moving forward? What kind of help are you looking for? 

He wishes that people can share his websites to all business owners: www.entrepnegosyo.com and www.emarket.com.ph

Because of the things happening now, what changes will you be implementing in your business? 

He plans to add an online payment gateway so that people can pay online.

What are the business lessons that you have learned from this? 

Johan says that we need to educate people and businesses on having a contingency plan on how to earn online.

Spread the word about these two sites that can help local businesses:

www.entrepnegosyo.com

www.emarket.com.ph

Thanks for continuously reading my stories on local businesses!

P.S. Please follow https://www.facebook.com/groups/BounceBackPH/ to see how you can support the Philippines.

P.P.S. Please follow #BounceBackforBusiness #GInspiration #GoLocalPH for more Local SME and Professional stories that we can support!

P.P.S. If you want to be featured next, please visit this link https://mommyginger.com/smes-and-professionals-unite-during-this-time-of-crisis.html

Summer is the perfect time for swimming lessons. Usually, during these months, local business Swim Central Inc. earns from corporate clients who want to offer these classes as an extra curricular activity for their employees. They also earn from individuals who sign up for themselves for beach season and to send their kids for these classes.

But since the pandemic hit different countries and the Philippine government mandated a complete shut down of Metro Manila, not a lot of Filipinos are enrolling (for obvious reasons).

Beginnings of Swim Central

Swim Central was started by Coach Mark Christopher Santiago, a freelance and part time swimming instructor. He started this way back in June 2012 while still having a full time job. His love for swimming later escalated to the desire of sharing with others the fulfilling experience and benefits of swimming, specifically to the young professionals.

With proper training, mentorship and research, he was able to establish a system on how to teach swimming to young adults in an efficient approach made easy and fun.

In the past years, Swim Central has been continuously growing and expanding as Coach Mark trains new swimming coaches so they can serve more young adults and teach them the proper way of swimming and enjoy the benefits it could give.

Impact of COVID-19

When asked how COVID-19 affected their business, Coach Mark mentions that there are a few swimming lessons now considering this should be their peak season.

I asked Coach Mark these three important things:

How can people help you moving forward? What kind of help are you looking for? 

Coach Mark hopes those who already enrolled for swimming lessons and wasn’t able to push through with their scheduled sessions due to this quarantine season will still continue their journey to dive into the lifestyle of swimming after this health threat dies down.

He and his team hope the swimming enthusiasts we have in our community and their alumni would rally behind them to actively promote the lifestlye of swimming for a healthy and active Filipino community.

Because of the things happening now, what changes will you be implementing in your business?

He said that he will create new strategies in ushering more students for Swim Central even after summer. He also plans to strengthen existing offers of Swim Central merchandise like SC Shirts and venture to personal swimming apparels that students can use during their actual swimming lessons.

What are the business lessons that you have learned from this? 

Coach Mark said that a business should increase their emergency fund threshold. He says that thankfully they have a fund. But somehow on “worse case scenarios” and unforeseen circumstances such as non operation for a month (like this one), there should be an increase in the minimum requirement hereon.

Please support Swim Central by checking out and following these links:

http://www.swimcentral.com.ph

https://facebook.com/swimcentralph

Let’s support local businesses!

P.S. Please follow https://www.facebook.com/groups/BounceBackPH/ to see how you can support the Philippines.

P.P.S. Please follow #BounceBackforBusiness #GInspiration #GoLocalPH for more Local SME and Professional stories that we can support!