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There’s no ‘right timing’; just face your fears – Karen Tricia Aquino

Karen Tricia Aquino was initially scared to start her business. But when she opened ‘Kreations by K’, she got ROI in less than a month. “There’s no ‘right timing’. You just have to face your fears, just take that leap of faith and work hard.”



Karen Tricia Aquino grew up in a family of dentists, “and I have practically lived my whole life under their shadow. I never knew any other career aside from being a doctor and that made me quite unhappy.”

As outlet from the stress, she used to bake.

One day, “I just had enough of it and decided that it’s time to move past this and chase after what would make me truly happy and satisfied. After fervent prayers and an excruciating period of time to think about what I want to do with my life, I brainstormed things I was good at and passionate about. My only criterion was that it should be something I would never get tired of learning about and eventually got my answer.”

At this point, baking entered the picture for her.

“Those practice sessions started out as an escape until it became a part of me. When I realized that there was potential, it no longer became practice. Baking was more than just relieving stress and it definitely was more than showcasing skills. Eventually, my end goal was to satisfy, to please, and make people happy and so I shifted my concentration from the medical field to the culinary arts.”

Karen scouted for good culinary schools within the metro until a friend of hers recommended a good school just a few minutes away from her home.

“I wasted no time and enrolled in Southville International School Affiliated with Foreign Universities (SISFU) and finished my degree in Culinary Arts. What reeled me in is its partnership and standardization with Pearson College, London,” she recalled.

Of course she was scared of starting her own business.

“I was fully aware that food industry is a very daunting world and so I always stuck to cooking for myself, my family and my friends,” she said.

But one day, “my mom and I tried something we’ve never done before. We wanted to see what our food would look like as packages we could maybe sell. Our packaging looked pretty good so I decided to try posting it on an online group within our community and check out the response. I am thankful I did that experiment because from there everything just fell into place and I slowly started adding more items in my menu until I was open for business.”

So with a capital of only PhP6,000 to PhP7,000 (loaned from her parents), she started ‘Kreations by K’.

“The person who inspires me the most is my mother. Despite her busy schedule in her clinic, she still finds time and still has the energy to cook delicious meals for the family. Despite how tired she must be, she still glows when she’s in the kitchen. I guess I got it from her, and I’m thankful that she pushes me to do my own thing and practice more,” she said.

“You need to come in prepared. Before you start your business make a work flow system that would best fit you and this includes weekly order entries, inventories, expenses, etc.”

Karen’s capital was handily returned in a few weeks.

“So far, one my greatest challenges is that I am a one woman show. I do everything from start to finish, resulting to limited stocks every week. I’m constantly developing my own system that would propel the business further, efficiently producing quality output,” she said.

Aside from this, another challenge she faces is the delivery method.

“It is very difficult to find couriers that would actually take care of the products that you send. So most of the time, I deliver the more fragile products personally.”

However, “the greatest challenge of all is this pandemic. Since the situation is worsening in our country, I’m currently thinking of ways to avoid physically leaving my kitchen to buy stocks or deliver food items. Sometimes that would make price a little higher but I’d like to think of it as an investment instead of a loss because it helps me avoid any possible exposure to the virus. It’s more like investing on yourself and your personal safety.”

With her business continuing to boom, “I am now able to set aside money as profit from my products. Selling cookies and desserts is a profitable venture. As Filipinos, we love to have dessert after a meal and we also love merienda. When you create a treat that is delicious without compromising its quality, people will come back for more.”

And for people who may want to also open their business, what tips can Karen give?

“You need to come in prepared. Before you start your business make a work flow system that would best fit you and this includes weekly order entries, inventories, expenses, etc,” she said. “There’s no ‘right timing’. You just have to face your fears, just take that leap of faith and work hard. Its honestly scary, but it’s your passion and your drive that will make you fly to greater heights.”

To try the tasty offerings of ‘Kreations by K’, head to its Facebook page or IG: @kreationsbykta.


How FullSuite founder Maggie Po built a startup stronghold in the heart of Baguio

There are visionaries who dare to break the mold and create thriving businesses in unexpected locales.



In the agile world of entrepreneurship, success stories often emanate from the hustle and grind of metropolitan hubs. In the Philippines, it’s not wrong to assume that these metropolitan hubs are at the heart of either Manila, Makati, or BGC. After all, these business districts are home to some of the country’s biggest conglomerates and multinational companies.

However, there are visionaries who dare to break the mold and create thriving businesses in unexpected locales.

One such trailblazer is Maggie Po, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of FullSuite, a company that has not only carved a niche for itself but also become a catalyst for change in the heart of Baguio. Po’s journey from startup to scale-up is not just about business expansion; it’s about transforming a city, nurturing careers, and redefining the startup landscape.

Baguio as the Next Business District

The story began nine years ago when Maggie Po, fresh off her first M&A for a Silicon Valley startup, embarked on a remarkable journey. Armed with the lessons she had learned along the way, she envisioned a company that would provide startups with a simpler and more stable alternative for their back-office operations, particularly in finance.

This vision became FullSuite, a David amidst the Goliaths of heavily funded BPOs that dominated urban landscapes.

While many associate Baguio with its scenic landscapes and cool climate, Maggie Po saw beyond the surface. The choice to establish FullSuite in Baguio was driven not only by operational considerations but also personal ones. Po’s daughter was already living in Baguio, and upon closer inspection, she identified a treasure trove of untapped talent. The scarcity of global-centric companies in the area meant that the local talent pool remained largely undiscovered. This realization led to the establishment of FullSuite in Baguio, a city with abundant raw potential waiting to be harnessed.

Empowering Startups with FullSuite

FullSuite’s success story is intertwined with its commitment to nurturing startups and helping them scale seamlessly. Offering a diverse array of 27 services, FullSuite focuses on three core areas: operations, finance, and administrative support.

Recognizing that many startups face operational challenges during periods of rapid growth, FullSuite steps in as a strategic partner, allowing startups to focus on product development, tech innovation, and revenue generation.

While startup entrepreneurs and leaders are hyperfocused on the big thinking plans of their companies, FullSuite takes care of the backend work that needs to be done. Operations, finance, and administrative support are all necessary cornerstones that ensure businesses can run on a daily basis. But these support work often takes too much time and manpower that may divert from more important strategic plans and decisions for entrepreneurs.

“We are not in the EOR business nor are we on the management advisory side; we like being involved and our partner clients see a clear value on being able to have a partner six thousand or so miles away that really cares about what they do and where they are going. We offer these growth startups a simple, headache-free alternative to growing and scaling their operations team so they can retain laser focus attention to their product & tech development and revenue generation,” Po explained.

The Path to Building a Baguio Stronghold

Maggie Po’s journey with FullSuite has been a lesson in perseverance and innovation. FullSuite’s evolution was marked by continuous iteration, refining its approach to bring value to both partner clients and Suitelifers (employees). The lesson of being a launchpad, rather than a competitor poacher, shaped the company’s ethos. FullSuite focuses on nurturing its talent, fostering a culture where employees thrive and envision a bigger version of themselves.

But the path to establishing a startup stronghold in Baguio wasn’t without its challenges. Logistical constraints, cultural differences, and the evolving remote work landscape posed hurdles. Yet, FullSuite persevered, finding innovative solutions and maintaining a dedicated office-based setup. The company’s unique culture thrives on physical presence, fostering camaraderie, collaboration, and professional growth.

As FullSuite continues to grow, its future holds immense promise. The company envisions itself as the top operational concierge for growth startups while serving as a springboard for professional careers. FullSuite’s impact extends beyond business; it aims to establish Baguio as a hub for career growth, enabling young talents to start and evolve their professional journeys.

To aspiring entrepreneurs seeking non-traditional startup locations, Maggie Po’s advice is clear: embrace uncertainty, harness the environment, and develop an antifragile mindset. For fresh graduates, Po’s wisdom emphasizes being anti-fragile.

“Success is not something you achieve on your own free will.  The environment matters; the support matters; the timing matters. And if these all do not yield to your favor, it pays to be antifragile. Develop a mindset that embraces uncertainty, volatility and randomness as opportunities for growth and improvement,” Po said. “Here at Fullsuite, we train talents to become anti-fragile, to benefit from disorder. This way, when it is time for them to leave the corners of FullSuite, they bring with them the learnings and training they have been exposed to in all their years of being with us.”

In a world where startup success stories often emerge from well-trodden paths, FullSuite’s journey stands as a testament to innovation, resilience, and the transformative power of vision. From startup to scale-up, FullSuite’s story echoes the potential for greatness in unexpected places, challenging conventions and building stronger communities along the way.

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Entrepreneurs turn their passions into business ventures

With MSMEs comprising 99.5% of business enterprises in the Philippines, the need for them to adapt to the changing market and increase their reach is more important than ever.



With MSMEs comprising 99.5% of business enterprises in the Philippines, the need for them to adapt to the changing market and increase their reach is more important than ever. Recognizing this, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has identified the digitization and innovation of MSMEs as one of their key priorities as they continue to improve productivity growth and generate employment opportunities among MSMEs. Many entrepreneurs now go online to scale their businesses through the variety of tools, features, and opportunities that e-commerce offers.

E-commerce platforms such as Shopee are not only accessible, but also a more seamless way for all kinds of businesses to go online. With its wide reach and initiatives such as Shopee’s first mega sale of the year, the 3.3-3.15 Mega Shopping Sale, sellers such as Geline and Camil are able to find new opportunities for their businesses spurred by two deep passions: love for fashion, and advocating animal rights. 

From fashion enthusiast to loungewear entrepreneur

From being an avid online shopper, Geline’s background and love for fashion enabled her to thrive as an online seller. With her knowledge of the tiangge (bazaar) market scene, she initially sold her mother’s creations of printed dresses in a brick-and-mortar store. When the popularity of e-commerce platforms grew in 2020, Geline decided to ride the wave and bring her business online selling sleepwear and loungewear that she designs herself at Trend Studio Manila

Shopee continues to be Geline’s platform of choice, even now that she’s a seller. She started joining Shopee’s monthly campaigns mid-2022, and saw first-hand how the added exposure from marketing campaigns helped her reach more customers. At present, Geline has more than 50 staff who help sew and reproduce her own designs. She even recalls being overcome with the feeling of kilig after acquiring a truck for her business and buying their family’s dream house.

“At first, I never saw myself as a full-time entrepreneur when I started selling online. Shopee has made it easy for me to channel my passion and capabilities, and grow our business in order to support my family and my staff. When my staff tell me stories about how they’ve renovated their homes or set up their own sari-sari stores, I feel so proud and happy because all of us share our accomplishments,” Geline shared.

A pet supply store rooted in animal rights advocacy 

Camil is a passionate animal rights advocate and part owner of House of Sioco Pet Supplies. Her online selling journey started with her buying pet supplies in bulk for their 35 rescued cats and dogs at home. When her husband Mac pitched the idea of selling some of the items online, Camil was hesitant at first because they were unfamiliar with this new terrain, but they chose to persevere. 

While there was a learning curve in navigating the platform, Camil and Mac’s hard work paid off. They availed of Shopee’s marketing packages and saw their orders double and even triple during big campaigns.They now offer about 800 product listings and average over a thousand orders per day during double-day campaigns.Their efforts in sending product photos, replying to buyers’ messages, and mentoring staff on excellent customer service, have enabled a culture of trust with both clients and her team. With this, Camil hopes to be an inspiration to other online sellers who are afraid to take the leap.

She shared, “Shopee gave us a stepping stone as passionate pet lovers and now a strong foundation as entrepreneurs. The opportunities that they have given us enabled us to grow our business while still delivering quality service to our customers who have put their trust in us. I hope my fellow sellers will take advantage of these opportunities and always put customer service at the heart of their businesses.”

Geline and Camil are a testament to what sellers can achieve on Shopee. This 3.3-3.15 Mega Shopping Sale, catch discounted products and vouchers from Trend Studio Manila, House of Sioco Pet Supplies, and many more! For more information about Shopee’s 3.3-3.15 Mega Shopping Sale, make sure to visit

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‘Don’t be discouraged nor lose hope even if the process is difficult’ – Cyramae Ubaldo

This February, Cyramae Ubaldo opened a candle business, Candle La Vie, with a start-up capital of around around P10,000. “Don’t be discouraged and lose hope even if the process is difficult. It will always be hard at first.”



This February, Cyramae Ubaldo opened a candle business, Candle La Vie, with a start-up capital of around around P10,000.

“(When) I started planning my wedding, I thought scented candles would make great souvenirs,” she recalled. Though, obviously, these would also be applicable for any other events. And “that gave me an idea to start this business.”

Since she finished BS IT, Cyramae said she never imagined that candle making would become her passion. In a way, this makes the venture challenging.

“Some days I tend to become hesitant if I’m going to pursue this business. (I have) lots of negative thoughts (about this business) – e.g. that it might fail right away, that no one would purchase the goods, that my candles won’t be pleasing compared to others,” she said.

But with the support of her partner, “I was able to push through.”

She has yet to reach ROI, but Cyramae thinks this is a profitable business.

And for people who may want to also open their own business, what tips can Cyramae give? 

“Don’t be discouraged and lose hope even if the process is difficult. It will always be hard at first. The most important thing is that you love and you’re happy of what you’ve been doing. Even it is a small progress, it’s still one step towards your goal,” Cyramae ended.

For those who want to get in touch with Candle La Vie, head to Facebook or Instagram.

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