Learn from the success of these inspirational mentors as we rehash the lessons from Let’s Talk Business, Pare!
On September 5, 2018, Globe myBusiness, in partnership with UnionBank GlobalLinker, Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Let’s Eat Pare, hosted Let’s Talk Business, Pare!, which brought together entrepreneurs at various stages of their business journeys to converse, network, and most importantly, pass on valuable and life-changing advice.
In an effort to empower younger enterprises through mentorship and guidance, chosen mentors from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization eagerly shared their stories, enlightening the crowd of first-time or potential business owners from Let’s Eat Pare’s online community.
We picked up some key things to remember from each mentor, who generously shared some keys to success.
Bo’s Coffee founder Steve Benitez showed many examples of his passion for his core business in his talk. Having started Bo’s as a sideline while he was a student, he eventually turned it into a passion project, which he first nurtured in his hometown Cebu, before it evolved into a nationally-known brand.
Despite being a pioneer coffee seller in Cebu, he was limited by competition when he came to Manila, and thus looked to his core business to find something that would set his coffee apart. This turned out to be Bo’s Coffee’s homegrown and local authenticity, something which they emphasize to this day.
As he says, “Find the product that made you successful, and make the most of it. Know your strength; embrace it and build your business around it.”
If anyone knows adversity, it’s Kerwin Tansekiao of Jimini Foods Group. Having faced calamities that destroyed integral parts of his business in 2009, 2012, and 2015, he was most definitely in a place where most people might give up and close down their business. But Kerwin knew better, and taught himself how to scale in the face of disasters.
“Adversities force you to assess your position, be resourceful for solutions, be honest with yourself, make a forward-facing decision, and prepare to scale further,” he states. He additionally asks a number of questions that each business owner will have to face in times of extreme loss, most of them coming down to one important factor: is it worth it to go on? From that point, it’s merely a question of how to keep going, and a matter of strength to persist.
While Steve Benitez found his place among giants by setting himself apart, co-founder of Yellow Cab and current owner of The Henry Hotel Hanky Lee cited a few giants that brought him to where he is today. By “standing on the shoulders” of these big-name brands and working hand in hand with them, he was able to raise Yellow Cab to new heights until it became a giant in its own right.
Besides partnering with bigger brands, he also cited two other factors that fueled his success: passion for his business, and branding, which he says involves infusing the attributes of your brand into everything. By providing a unique experience that can be felt by all five senses, your customers will have something to remember you by and recognize immediately.
Enrique Miguel Valles of Mida Food Distributors, Inc. knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to being a supplier. His chain of seafood importers and distributors is actually behind many of the biggest brands in the country, and he’s been around for long enough to know the ins and outs of the industry. However, he still claims it’s crucial for any business to know how times are changing, and to be aware of trends.
In the age of sustainability, customers are now more aware of where their food comes from, and health has become a menu driver. Because of this, it’s important that you, as a food business, know all there is to know about your ingredients, including how they’ve been prepared and processed. With the need for speed that customers now have, suppliers have adjusted to portioning and customizing their imports, making things more efficient for cooks and chefs. Finally, because people are now more open to experimenting and trying out new things, menu flexibility is also becoming more popular, with alternative species, breeds or origins being used to reach the same finished product.
To cap off the night of tips and industry hacks, Nacho King’s Mike Singh told the story of how he took a commodity product that was nameless and brandless — nachos — and built an empire out of the resource, all through the power of branding. Similar to Hanky Lee, Mike’s belief is that branding goes beyond the common misconception. As he says, “Branding is not a logo, but an experience.”
His steps toward creating a great brand include picking a market position by establishing your product — in the case of Nacho King, the food is unique, aspirational, fast, affordable, fresh, hot, and filling. It’s followed by passionately building the brand with the best design, reliable equipment, and pure ingredients. Finally, the market needs to be guarded and kept by upholding standards, using the “customer is king” mentality and training your employees to be the best they can be.
Following the talks, each mentor then spoke to groups of food business owners from Let’s Eat Pare’s community, answering their questions and helping them form business ideas that are not only feasible, but will gain success in the future. Let’s Talk Business, Pare! was definitely a night of learning, network building, and empowering SMEs to create long-lasting success.
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