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10 lessons I learned from Filipino Creative Entrepreneurs

On November 10th , 2015, I was one of the lucky few who were able to join the Nesta creative Enterprise Skills Workshop organized by the British Council, Nesta, A-Space Manila, and Edukasyon.ph. The workshop was facilitated by Nesta’s creative enterprise trainer, Percy Emmett. Participants came from all sorts of different areas of the creative industries: tourism, architecture, food, tech, fashion design, paper crafts, and performing arts. Among the sessions of the workshop were talks by two of the country’s creative entrepreneurs. The first was Jowee Alviar of Team Manila. The second was Brian Tenorio. Their stories were eyeopeners to the struggles of creative entrepreneurs. Here are 10 lessons from these two who “creatively” made their mark as entrepreneurs:

1. “Lahat ng raket ginawa namin”

Team Manila founder duo, Jowee Alviar and Raymund Punzalan, started out as unknown freelance graphic artists tried everything from fashion photography, calendar making, and even music video production despite their lack of experience. They understood that to attain their goal of becoming the first graphic studio, they had to put their names out there and take every opportunity presented to them.

2. They always put their best foot forward.

Even though they were still living under their parents’ roof and had no studio yet, the Team Manila duo always gave their best knowing that with their still being unknown graphic artists, they had to set themselves apart by being professional with all their clients. They made sure that they were on time for meetings, well-prepared for their presentations, and they even made a standard pricing of their services as not to upset their clientele.

3. Always keep “Leveling up the experience”

For Jowee and Raymund achieving new goals and learning new things for them is what they call “leveling up the experience”. From moving out of their parents house, to getting their own studio, to hiring their first employees, to getting into retail, to getting into events, to setting up 15 stores nationwide; they both knew that they would definitely learn something from the endeavors that they chose to pursue as a team.

4. “(All efforts) should be press worthy”

Since Team Manila had no money for advertising or PR, they knew that all their products, design, events, or engagements have to be ‘press worthy’ enough that magazines and newspapers could do the promotions for them.

5. “We made risks but they were calculated risks”

Jowee explained that the whole creative enterprise journey was full of challenges and trials but whatever risks that they took were well calculated and discussed thoroughly with the team and with each other. For the founder duo, it is important that they take responsibility for the projects that they wanted to pursue and not blame each other for unachieved success.

6. The value of creating a product for everyone.

For Brian Tenorio, a multi-faceted and talented designer in designing shoes, designing luxury urns, producing his own Pinoy design focused TV show amongst many others. He focused his talk on his new business venture called “KKK Coffee” which aims to be a “kape para sa lahat” or ‘coffee for everyone’. Named after our historic forefathers who fought gallantly against the Spanish, KKK also seeks to start a revolution in the way it approaches coffee by being a Filipino coffee for the Filipino people.

7. “Coffee as a means to your destination and not the destination”.

After touring the Philippines learning about our innate coffee culture, Brian realized that coffee chains do not need to educate Filipinos how to drink coffee. Most Filipinos consume not brewed coffee but rather instant or 3-in-1 coffee in contrast to the coffee chains that emphasize how the coffee is made or what kind of beans they are made from. This signaled to Brian that Filipinos enjoy just having simple coffee and that’s what he aims for his coffee to be. For Brian, having conversations with friends or family over coffee is how we enjoy coffee the most and he wants KKK Coffee to be a means to achieve that experience and not the main event.

8. Start out small.

Brian believes that for entrepreneurs, they really need be wholeheartedly invested in the business ventures that they are starting but he also thinks that it is important to start out “SM” or “small muna”

9. “If (something is) not working, change your game”

Responding quickly is absolutely vital to a creative enterprise. If something is not working, you have to be able to do what is necessary to make sure that it doesn’t continue.

10. There is nothing like hard work and perseverance.

Both Jowee and Brian taught us that as cliché and redundant as it might sound, hard work and perseverance have brought them this far. They both learned to not shy away from their failures but to continually learn from them and trudge on. Many other factors also matter but your dedication day-in and day-out despite all the trials is what brings about success.

Hope you learned something from what I learned!

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