Starting your own business is a fantasy most of us have entertained at one point or another. It’s a castle often built in the air and for the vast majority of us, that is where it’ll stay. That is not the case for these dynamic young personalities though. With unwavering determination and ability by the bucketloads, this special breed of entrepreneurs has plucked their ideas out of the air and fixed them firmly in the ground to build upon. It is said that “to dare is to do” and in this edition of the rankings list, Top 10 of Malaysia presents (in no particular order) its list of the top young entrepreneurs in the Philippines who most definitely dared and did, amazingly well.
Avin Ong is the founder of the Fredley Group which counts brands such as Macao Imperial Tea, Liang Crispy Rolls, and Nabe Japanese Izakaya under its stewardship. Through the group, Avin owns a master franchise collection of around 230 restaurants and cafes spread throughout the Philippines. Innovation is a cornerstone of Avin’s business model. A big believer in launching something new every once in a while, Avin works to keep his brands fresh in the minds of his customers.
(Photo Courtesy (1): Tech In Asia)
Francis Plaza and Luis Sia
Francis Plaza had always shown signs of brilliance. After all, not everybody makes it into MIT at the age of 16. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in computer science, he then went on to establish PayMongo alongside co-founder Luis Sia which culminated in their venture making it to the hallowed halls of renowned start-up incubator Y Combinator. Francis and Luis’ potential was clear for all to see when they received seed funding from none other than PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel – a ringing endorsement if there ever was one.
Kathleen Yu is the founder of the HR platform Rumarocket. An early adopter of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Kathleen was a visionary who could see the latent potential in making AI and ML a core component of her product. Rumarocket, an end-to-end talent management platform and a multi-million dollar business, is the result of a rejected thesis proposal that Kathleen chose to believe in. Taking it to other professors to examine, she got the validation she was looking for and from then on everything began to fall into place. Rumarocket serves multinational industries in the likes of financial services, real estate and fast-moving consumer good companies based in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Maria Francesca, more affectionately known as Mica, first stepped onto a trading floor at the age of 13. She was trading foreign currencies by age 15 after being shown the ropes by seasoned forex traders and then went on to start her own business about 4 years after that. The present day finds Mica leading the MFT Group (bearing her initials) to ever-widening success – having already reached nine countries around the world. Mica’s aim is to establish 100 business areas worldwide and by the looks of things, she’s well on her way.
Rachel de Villa
Rachel de Villa is the co-founder of Cropital, a company that seeks to empower farmers through training, insurance, and technology. A full-stack programmer by trade, agriculture is perhaps not the field you would have expected her to venture into. Rachel’s not one to abide by convention though and her determination to create something useful has seen her jump on the opportunity to solve a common agricultural problem – farmers’ lack of access to funding. Rachel believes that in business, you cannot do it alone and so she strives to make sure that the farmers won’t have to either. Cropital has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans for farmers, and has acquired over 37,000 individual lenders on its crowdfunding platform.
Aya Fernandez is a competitive dancer, beauty queen, and the founder of Project Lily PH – a company that manufactures environmentally-friendly charcoal briquettes called “Eco-Uling” from agricultural waste. The beginnings of the idea can be traced back to when Aya was named Miss Teen Earth 2015, and then nominated as one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Youth Leaders. After using her savings to help a group of people with disabilities who were selling eco-charcoal by the roadside, she soon realised that this was her calling and thus Project Lily PH was born.
Janlord Luga is a man of many talents. A full-stack developer with extensive experience in building websites and just about anything else you could need, he also runs his own business Groom & Brew. A company that makes cosmetic products targeted toward men’s grooming needs, Groom & Brew has sold over 100,000 pieces since its inception in 2018. With an extensive product line including hair/beard grower, pomades, tattoo aftercare, and many others, Janlord has also branched out to make products for women, households and pets.
Carl Ocab started tinkering online at the age of 12, creating information websites and forums. By age 13, he’d already started carlocab.com. Within just a few months of its inception, the website reached the top spot of Google for a highly coveted keyword in its niche. This was when TV programmes, newspapers, and industry-leading internet marketers began to take notice. He has since grown carlocab.com into one of the finest internet marketing agencies around, having worked with the likes of Forbes and The Philippine Marketing Association.
Stephanie Sy is the brains behind the data science and technology company Thinking Machines. With learnings gained from the auspices of Google and Silicon Valley, Stephanie has turned her company into a data science juggernaut. Building AI and data systems to help organisations make smarter decisions, they work to help organisations become data-driven. They work with brands to leverage big data and machine learning to deliver new eye-opening insights. In recognition of her good work, Stephanie was named in the Forbes Asia 30 under 30 list in 2018.
Miko Aspiras took the very earliest steps in his culinary journey by helping his aunt out in her kitchen and watching her run her catering business. Helping her crush graham crackers for her cheesecake and whisking her Caesar salad dressing, young Miko found his imagination tickled and entranced. How he ended up on the sweet side of the kitchen was something of an accident. Joining a pastry competition because all the slots for the savoury category were taken up, he went in blind and came out enlightened. Miko has come a long way since then, establishing the Tasteless Food Group which can count more than 20 stores and seven concepts across Manila.