What Happened When We Killed Timekeeping and Attendance

One of the great perks of being an entrepreneur is having complete control over time. From the time we founded STORM, Pao and I have always worked with a completely flexible schedule. Actual sms messages: Dude, coffee shop muna ako this morning. or Had a late night, will work from home today or Won't be in the office this afternoon We never had to be worried that the other person is slacking off. We'll even tell one another if we need a break to slack off. This is because we trust one another. In the end, I know Pao cares about the firm and will work his tail off for its objectives. I know that goes both ways. This never became a rule for our employees though. We followed a … [Read more...]

Big Picture? No, Look at the BIGGER Picture

These past few months have been crazy in STORM. We started the 2014 with about 16 employees. We're ending the year with around 50 employees and 60 more job openings. After 5-6 years hovering at around 10-15 employees, we're now scaling at an unprecedented level. It's been all sorts of crazy, but its been fun. It's a riveting challenge to see just how far we can push this. This sudden shift in scale started when we realized two years ago that, "Hey, we can be more than a niche player in the industry - we could help EVERYONE out with flexible benefits." We widened the aperture. Stepping Back for a Wider View Every once in awhile I would talk to an entrepreneur about ideas or … [Read more...]

Six Powerful Reasons Why Your Next Startup Must Be a B2B

To B2B or not to B2B? Ah. This is the question. For me the answer is clear. With all things being equal, if you are a Philippine-based startup, you should try building a B2B first. Let me get my obvious bias out of the way first - I am primarily a B2B guy. Most of startups I've been involved with - STORM, Strata, Stream Engine - have been B2B's. (the notable exception is JGL) Waitaminit! What do mean by B2B again? You can generally classify as startup as being a B2B (Business to Business), as opposed to a B2C (Business to Consumer). A B2B company sells to other companies (also called enterprise business), while a B2C sells its wares directly to consumers. I think there is an … [Read more...]

STOP CHRISTMAS SHOPPING! (and other different ideas to help Typhoon Yolanda victims)

Coming from a weekend retreat, I only recently saw footage of the utter devastation wrought by Yolanda. For a good hour, my wife Pauline and I were just silently watching, with a hand on our mouths. I've never seen this kind of footage from Ondoy, Habagat, or even the recent 7.2 Bohol earthquake. It was heartbreaking. I have some friends with families in the regions affected who still cannot call to confirm whether or not their loved ones are alive or not. It was also particularly shocking to see our countrymen resort to looting. I think this is the very first time I've heard of this happening, even if we seem to be hit by a disaster every quarter. This is one proof for me why … [Read more...]

On Scaling, the Recent SOFTCON, and the Wonder of Technology

Recently, I took a picture of the weekly FLEXIBLE BENEFIT products we received in our office and now had to deliver to our clients: There were hundreds of items ordered in a span of a few days. It was the very first time I've seen this many orders made in our system. We had to find a room to keep all the items secure. The problems we're facing in STORM now are very different from what we've faced over the last few years. Before, we would just be consumed mostly by sales and developing the technology further. (and you know, startup stuff like "where the hell do we get the money for next month's payroll?!") Now, while the above-mentioned things are still supremely important, we … [Read more...]

Ah! Open Coffee! (October Edition Postscript)

I have to admit, I was worried about the 2-month absence of Open Coffee. Would we lose momentum?  Would people still go?  Will the pitches be just as good?  It turns out, my fears were unfounded. I thought October Open Coffee was super! For starters, after the 2 months, it was great to see the holdovers / familiar faces (around 20 or so, you know who you are) who keep on coming back. You practically feel like family. Next, I thought, we just had the MOST DIVERSE SET OF PITCHES we've ever had. And if you've been to Open Coffee before and heard the pitches, you'd know this is saying a lot. Let's see.... We had an OFW-children's support group, a fashion data aggregator, … [Read more...]

Why Startups ARE For Everyone, part 2

(Part one of this series can be found here) In part 1, I talk about how the combination of how EVERYONE having something special to offer and the current technology infrastructure now enable ANYONE to build her own startup. So the question is: why isn't everyone rushing to do so? Here are 3 factors why: 1) The Information Gap The first reason is simply ignorance. We live in a society where our school systems still (by and large) marshall us and train us for the corporate and factory environment. For a typical college graduate, her primary (and chances are, only) professional concern after graduation is "to get a job." The thought of pursuing her own thing and standing … [Read more...]

My New Faburrito

Every Tuesday night, my prayer group would choose a restaurant around the Eastwood/Ortigas area to eat in. Last week, we chose this Mexican place called Faburrito, located at the Robinson's Supermarket area in Eastwood. Ever the entrepreneur, the first thing I thought was, "bad location, little traffic." This particular branch (I understand there's another one at the Columns, Makati), was at the edge of a corridor, with very little natural traffic. My friend Howard, who already finished his meal, began raving like a madman as soon as I arrived: Peterit'ssogoodanddifferenthere, theiringredientsareallnatural, theiceteaislightrefillableandyoucanchangeflavors! I … [Read more...]

Just Touch the Water

It still amazes me how so many of the largest companies in world started out as some crazy idea in someone's head. Then, these individuals began talking about it with another person. Perhaps Larry invited Sergey over for a coffee chat, perhaps Steve started an argument with Woz, Hewlett started brainstorming with Packard, Procter meets with Gamble for the first time, and so on. As the idea is shared, it separates itself from one individual and takes on a life of its own. Now, two or more people get excited about it. More talks are scheduled. More energy is generated. Perhaps more people involved. Then things get actually tried out. Soon, papers get signed and boom, a … [Read more...]

Sometimes, Interest Can Trump Passion

It's probably THE MOST overused cliche in the entrepreneur world, right? Find something you are passionate with! You will never work a day again! This is true of course. (which is why its a cliche) I do think though that for some people, this gets in the way because people try to look for their passion in the SUBJECT of the idea, when sometimes, DEVELOPING A STARTUP itself is the passion. There are a number of entrepreneurs now I talk to who I think face this dilemma. "Peter, there are these ideas I have which are interesting and I think can make money, but I'm not really sure I'm SUPER passionate about. What I am REALLY passionate about are comic books and food, but I can't … [Read more...]