If there ever was an advocate for believing in your product, Buddy Isleta of Puro Taba ng Talangka would be the best example. With a product like his, the job isn’t really that hard.
In a span of two years, the once obscure home-based business rose from Isleta’s home kitchen and into the homes of thousands of customers who have become unofficial advocates of the brand. Isleta’s success is anchored on a single product: a jar of crab fat. During the Leveling Up Entrepreneurs, Pare event last February 18, 2019 held at Café 1771 in Ortigas, Pasig City, Isleta shares some insights on how he grew that one jar into a much sought-after item.
Perfect your product. Known as taba ng talangka, crab fat is made from the crustacean’s digestive gland called tomalley, which acts as its pancreas and liver. Puro Taba ng Talangka comes from an old family recipe of Isleta’s wife Noreen, who he credits is really the secret behind the businesses as she and her mother have the science behind the cooking process perfected.
The simple concoction of freshly harvested crab fat sautéed with garlic, onions, calamansi, salt, and vinegar is a staple in the Isleta household. So much so that when Christmas came in December of 2016, the family decided to give them as gifts. Thanks to an overzealous recipient who shared her glowing feedback online, inquiries and orders started to arrive. Their first production was for 22 jars.
“First, we got pre-orders,” recalls Isleta. “And then every time we’d start distributing them, other orders would come in.” So they added 20 more jars, which sold out as more orders came in. “So we thought, ‘We could probably do this weekly.’”
But it was an endorsement in the Facebook food community Let’s Eat Pare that really made Puro Taba ng Talangka a popular product that everyone raves about. Soon after, more orders kept coming.
Learn how to properly market your product. In July 2017, Isleta joined their first food bazaar and, riding on their initial wave of success, they dove right in. However, the initial reception was lukewarm. “There were so many people passing by our booth and ignoring us, not knowing that there on the table was the best taba ng talangka,” says Isleta. “I was hesitant that they weren’t tasting it because I really believed in it and I wanted to shout it to the world.”
Determined to introduce his product to a wider market, Isleta offered free samples in order to get more attention. “And they were so surprised at how good it was! And that drove me to talk to everyone. I didn’t let anyone pass by without tasting it. I didn’t care if you didn’t buy it, I just wanted you to taste it.”
They prepared 100 jars for the weekend bazaar, and by early next day, they were sold out. Isleta’s product also managed to grab the attention of Margarita Forés, famed restaurateur and Asia’s Best Female Chef of 2016, who happened to pass by their booth. She purchased their remaining stock, and wrote them a cheque on the spot for future orders.
Know when and how to scale. At the moment, Isleta relies on their network of distributors and resellers to help spread the goodness of crab fat, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. “We’re so happy with it because most of our resellers are home-based, and then many of them are housewives who need the extra income, and they’re very happy with the product.”
From producing 22 jars in 2017, Puro Taba ng Talangka now churns out 500 jars a week. The plan is to bring the luscious crab fat abroad by the end of 2019. Several individuals and companies have already gotten in touch and are eager to bring the brand to the United States, the Middle East, and Europe.
Up until this point, the brand’s inventory has always just been one hero product. “We have several products in line, but we’re still mastering this one,” says Isleta. “We want to make sure that it’s perfect…so we won’t have a hard time when we add more because we still have a lot of products that we can introduce.”
If there’s one thing to learn about Puro Taba ng Talangka’s journey so far, it’s all about confidence: in your product and in yourself. From its humble beginnings in Isleta’s home kitchen, this local brand has conquered bazaars and is now shipping all over the country. “I always tell everyone, ‘This is the most delicious crab fat in the whole wide world—because it is.”
If you are looking for guidance on how to expand your business, or are in need of trainings on production, processing, or marketing, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Negosyo Center helps entrepreneurs set up and offers seminars in running a business. You may also check out Globe myBusiness Academy for more business tips, and the Globe myBusiness Facebook page to find out more about LEAP events.
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