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.
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.
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.
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:
The effect of the corona virus (COVID-19) won’t be just on people’s health, but it will have an effect on the world’s economy and people’s mental health. Here is a good podcast of the World Economic Forum that you can follow:
Regardless of how huge the effects will be, what we know is that the Corona Virus will definitely impact all of these. Given the uncertainty of things and the future, I’d like to believe that the strength of each one of us collectively will help us weather through a crisis like this.
In our country, the Bayanihan spirit of the Philippines shines through in times like these. A lot of negativity and fake news have circled the internet, and a few people talk about the help that’s going around. I’ve been seeing a lot of people and groups stepping up though to help certain segments of society. An example is that the freelancing community that I’m a part of have been teaching employees how to effectively work from home. What’s interesting that speakers were from different professions and had different backgrounds.
I think we can all do our share to focus and promote the good things happening in our community.
This morning, when I woke up, I wondered how “in my own little way” as a blogger could I be able to help the people in times like this. My heart (as you all would know since I always talk about it) really goes out to business owners, professionals and freelancers who are affected by this crisis. The SMEs in the Philippines also make up 61.6% of the country’s employement (source: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/01/03/helping-msmes-grow/). If they are negatively affected, their could be a huge hit on our country’s employment rate.
As I read all of the comments in Jason Dela Rosa’s Facebook Group Bounce Back PH, I thought of running articles and features from tomorrow onwards on different Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) whose businesses have been affected by the Corona Virus and the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
I think all these local businesses need all the support that they can get from all of us.
If you know a business which needs help, please share this form with them. I’ll be happy to write about them in the following days.