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‘Don’t be afraid to take risks’ – Diana Abne

For Diana Abne, owner of Sugar Mommah PH – established in 2020 with a startup capital of only P5,000 – people should find their passion. “It is never too late to find new passions and goals in life. Find what your strengths are and what are your weaknesses … build your business from there.”

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To help ease the anxiety brought by COVID-19 (while augmenting income at that), Diana Abne established Sugar Mommah PH in June 2020 with a start-up capital of only around P5,000.

“It started as a passion project,” said the single mom, though “I have always loved cooking for my family (even if) I haven’t tried baking. But during the pandemic, I wanted to learn something new and add new skills, (so I started baking).”

It helped that people around her were supportive.

The oven she uses, for instance, “was a gift from my parents,” Diana said. And other family members and friends “became my first customers.”

These are also the very people who “inspire me to make good food.”

Looking back, it never occurred to Diana he’d go into this line of business.

“I always thought I do not have the patience nor the discipline to bake,” she said. “In cooking, I have always trusted my instincts in mixing spices and flavors. But in baking, everything has to be exact. I graduated Communication Arts in UST and is currently working as a Social Media Manager for a digital company. It is not aligned with my current business although it helps me in handling my social media pages.”

But yes, the decision to open Sugar Mommah PH was a good one.

“It is already profitable,” Diana smiled. “I was able to get my ROI within three months.”

Obviously, there are still challenges; as is normal for any business.

“The biggest challenge and struggle for me is handling my business, my work and being a mom. I live alone with my kid with no hired help so I am very much hands-on in everything – from cleaning the house to homestudy with my 7-year-old,” she said. “I get to adapt by following a very strict routine and schedule. I wake up at 5:00AM so I can have my me time and start cleaning and cooking. Baking time is scheduled every weekend since I only accept weekend orders, as of now.”

Business-wise, a challenge is “making sure that I have something unique and new in my shop. With the pandemic ongoing, food business quadrupled, and my competitors have years of experience in baking and decorating. I used to envy them and feel bad about myself but I realized that like most in life, we are on different levels.”

“I always remind myself that I will be able to achieve their successes in time. I don’t need to rush things and I need to take it slowly. As long as someone still believes in me and as long as I don’t give up, I can achieve their successes too in my own time.”

DIANA ABNE
Owner, Sugar MommaH PH

Diana also eyes to succeed for her son. “I am a single mom and he inspires to do everything, so I can help him make his dream come true.”

To others who are looking at opening a business, Diana suggested facing their fears.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks. I firmly believe that if it scares you, it means that you are one step away in changing your life. It is in that moment of fear that you should jump and go for it,” she said.

Another advice would be to “find your passion. We are trained to believe that we can only have one passion in life but I learned that your passion can change in every stage in your life. It is never too late to find new passions and goals in life. Find what your strengths are and what are your weaknesses … build your business from there,” Diana ended.

Wanna try the savory offerings of Sugar Mommah PH? Head to Facebook or Instagram: @sugarmommahph; or send a message to Viber/WhatsApp 09177537804.

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Micro-entrepreneur ‘hybrid-sells’ with the help of fiber broadband connection

Rogelia Dasco, a Cebu-based homemaker who buys and sells imported goods from the US, does her trade mostly online.

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The post-pandemic environment demands flexibility and adaptability from everyone but most especially entrepreneurs who are slowly recovering from the pandemic slump. One online Facebook seller is employing her business acumen not just in the virtual marketplace but in real life, as she does “hybrid selling” of her consumer goods.

Rogelia Dasco, a Cebu-based homemaker who buys and sells imported goods from the US, does her trade mostly online.

“The items, like lotions and perfumes, are from the US. My sister sends them, I take a picture of them, and I post them on Facebook Marketplace,” she shares.

However, unlike most online sellers, she doesn’t stop in the virtual world; When she gets to her buyer’s address, she then goes house to house in the community. The strategy pays off – she is able to sell out her goods in one afternoon instead of waiting for online sellers to finish off her inventory.

“When someone buys from me, for example, I go to their house but I bring my other items too. After I deliver to the buyer, I go to the neighbors and offer my other goods. Right now, I’m all sold out. The next shipment will come at the end of the month,” Dasco proudly says.

Supporting this diligent hybrid approach is BIDA fiber, the new mass market offering of Converge targeting the lower C and D income classes.

BIDA fiber is the most affordable postpaid broadband plan in the market today, and the cost savings makes a difference for smaller entrepreneurs.

“It’s so affordable and I’m able to save too. My old plan was priced at P 1,299 with an additional P 200 every month so that’s P 1,499. With BIDA, I’m able to save more than P 500,” said Rogelia Dasco.

The reliable connection – that can go up to 35 Mbps – also makes sure Rogelia keeps her ties with her supplier sister strong as every night they call each other through video. Even with a 3-hour video call, her husband watching YouTube videos, and her son playing Mobile Legends with friends at home, Rogelia’s connection never falters.

“I’ve really maximized my connection. It’s really good, even if we all use the internet at the same time,” she added. BIDA fiber is now available in more than 300 cities and municipalities in the Philippines and has more than 40 partner distributors selling the postpaid plan.

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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.

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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.

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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 https://shopee.ph/m/3-3

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