My Night With Entrepreneurs

One of the things I had promised myself was that I would always say “yes” to entrepreneur speaking engagements whenever I would have the honor of being invited and if my time permitted.

A few weeks ago I was asked by Ateneo MBA students to be one of the speakers for their culminating event, “Night with Entrepreneurs.”

I hesitated in saying yes because the weeks preceding January 1 are always the busiest for STORM – it’s when our current clients renew and when new clients are added.

Not wanting to begin compromising what I promised, and realizing I could make up the work I’d be missing, I said yes.

???????????????????????????????I’m glad I did.

Why?

Well, first off, I got to hear and learn a lot from my co-speakers.

Being around mostly tech-related startups, it was a joy hearing entrepreneurs in other fields (for a change):

Dencio Catienza is a dive-instructor-turned entrepreneur, founder of Planet Dive.  It was a thrill hearing about his journey from being a skills teacher into what is essentially a real estate developer and investor. It was great to see how he thought globally, and how he knew his numbers – how big the tourism market is, what exact piece of the pie each  country had, and how we had so much to improve on.

Caroline Cua went next. She founded a company called Tamang Timpla Foods, Inc, concept which was developed straight from the Ateneo SOMBA incubator program. From Somba, her team proceeded to join and win different business plan competitions. It was interesting to hear the story of how she had basically taken the startup leap from college and continues to develop her startup years after graduation, without ever having been an employee. Look, people! It IS possible to make the leap from college! Go get em Carol!

chris

Chris killing it with his talk

Chris Angeles, founder of kulayful.com,  started out by explaining the concepts of his favorite book, The 4-hour Workweek. I think Chris is the best possible example I can think of someone who actually approximates the lifestyle Tim Ferris suggests. Chris employs a Manila-based, fifteen-man startup which sells (nothing but) wristbands (surprisingly, Chris told me their mostly a B2B firm) in the US. They’re killing it. The interesting thing is that Chris developed his startup largely to be free of his operational involvement. He just works 2-3 hours a week. What does he do with most of his time?

Travelling. (and he’s got all the pics to prove it)

Each entrepreneur got a few minutes each to talk about his/her journey, and some of the best lessons they’ve learned.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to both the emotional side of things (the journey, the war stories), as well as the intellectual side of things (the business model, the competitive advantages).

Then, it was Q&A time.

Me? I loved the whole thing. Loved it. I think it reminded me of something I’ve known about myself for a while – I’m really a teacher at heart.

Thank you again for the Ateneo Entrepreneurship MBA class (EJ in particular – you were very helpful!), and their esteemed professor Jorge Saguinsin, for inviting me over. Till next time!

jorge

Me receiving a plaque from Prof Jorge Saguinsin

(want to meet more entrepreneur-minded folk? Get a slot at JGL’s Open Coffee session this Saturday before they run out!)

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