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Migi Manalastas: Creativity Is All Around | Edukasyon.ph
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Migi Manalastas: Creativity Is All Around

Changes can come from anywhere. Just ask Migi – he had a plan to create a startup in healthcare tech, had a change of heart and thought to revamp his family’s manufacturing business. Then pivoted to follow his passion in Bow House – creating functional and well-designed products for dogs. Master of Science Technopreneurship and Innovations Programme (MSc TIP) was able to put him in a community and environment to learn how to adapt. Beyond the classroom, Migi learnt to see creativity everywhere and he turned adversity to abundant opportunities.

What is the story behind Bow House?

MM: All along, I had planned to pursue a business in the healthcare-tech industry. However, after a visit to the Silicon Valley, it gave me real insight into the healthcare scene, and it made me realise many things I did not foresee. There were many things that are not within my control – the introduction of government regulations, high barriers to entries, and the demand and supply of healthcare workers. I learnt quickly, and this also made me take a step back to figure out where my interests lie, and where my resources were.

Coming from a family in the manufacturing industry, I had the facilities and resources to explore something in this aspect. While thinking of the niche market I could potentially enter, I realised my love for dogs can be put to good use. There was nothing in the market that is both functional for dogs and for humans who appreciate good design. I started Bow House out of pure fun and passion, without the expectation that one day I would be pursuing this full time. Today, we are at a healthy size of 8 employees, and are looking at expanding into more verticals such as grooming products and food.

We really love the title you hold – Chief Barkitect – can you tell us more about your day-to-day roles?

MM: I started out by doing some simple social media marketing and ensuring the quality of the products that Bow House produced. I always have multiple hats on – creator, manager, accountant, and business developer. The brand grew slowly through word-of-mouth, and we’re really excited to be brokering deals now with big store retailers.

There are a few principles I personally believe in, many of which are also business pillars for Bow House. One of them – not scrimping on quality – is something I firmly stand by. While many people might doubt what I am doing, or at my business and ambition, I believe I am on a good track to grow.

What kickstarted your interest in entrepreneurship and innovation?

MM: There is a deep-seated desire in me to start something – that entrepreneurial fire. I always try to do my best to keep that fire alive. There are many times when you feel the fire is dying, especially when faced with difficulties or failures, but I accept that this is the life of an entrepreneur. It comes with ups and downs.

Throughout my TIP experience, this deep-seated desire got cemented. Being placed in such an encouraging environment, I felt I was in the right place, doing the right thing. I was always around people that thought and felt exactly like me. The environment gave me the comfort and security, and that my feelings are valid.

How has TIP helped fuel your fire?

MM: I’ve made many lifelong friends – we shared decisions, exchanged ideas, and learned to just go for things. The entrepreneurial mindset gets developed further. It’s really interesting because amidst the likeness, everything was built upon differences. Differences in culture, backgrounds, and industries. The result is a multi-faceted, diverse likeness that allows us to see the same things from multiple perspectives.

 

What is one aspect of the entrepreneurial mindset you closely relate to?

MM: Creativity.

I believe the most important contribution one can make – be it to their company or society – is to come up with something new. To me, that’s how progress happens. It does not necessarily have to be something completely new, but can be an improvement to something already great.

This is also one of the reasons Bow House was born – even something as mundane as beds for dogs. I believed that it could be improved and made better. And the improvements are more than just aesthetic – it sparks off a chain reaction – the dogs like their beds more, the dogs get happy, their owners get happy, and ultimately it leads to an increased collective happiness of the society.

This is something most people do not see – and they think I’m “only doing stuff for dogs”, and that this venture is so much smaller compared to what I wanted to explore before in healthcare. However, I believe that I’m onto something, and seeing things that most other people aren’t. To me, the creation of Bow House is more than just a brand and products, but the creation of a community of like-minded people – and that is being creative.

 

What made you want to further your education in technopreneurship?

MM: I graduated from university with a Bachelor in Business Management, but I had told myself that I didn’t want to go through the usual route people deemed as success – to join a large multinational after graduation. I knew that the kind of life in a large MNC like Nestle, P&G or a reputable bank wasn’t for me. Ultimately, I chose to take up a scholarship in China, and I spent the next year in the country learning the language, culture and travelled far and wide. It was a very enriching experience, and showed me that there is a big world out there.

After getting home, I explored my options. I joined a corporate company for a year, but I did not like it. I felt that my creativity was stifled, and I was merely following orders and faced with mundane tasks all day. Next, I joined my family business and gave myself the task of enacting change in a traditional printing industry. However, it was not until one day that I realised this was not where I see myself. I picked up my courage to leave my comfort zone, and took up MSc TIP.

 

How has a formal education in technopreneurship given you an edge over your fellow peers?

MM: Certainly, a degree is not necessary in making a successful entrepreneur, nor does a degree make you successful by default. I felt that the formalised education I went through placed me in the right environment, exposed me to the right people and allowed me to explore the right recipes and components – essentially fast-tracking my learning process. Of course, just reading the books and attending lectures and classes are not enough for you to learn – most of the important lessons come from yourself. How you interact with people, how you apply the lesson in real-life scenarios, and how you think.

Being in the programme puts you in the eye of the storm, and it is up to you to ride it. While there is still uncertainty and no guarantee of success, we can at least be sure that there is an abundance of resources waiting to be tapped upon.

Learn more about the Technopreneurship and Innovation Programme at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) – Nanyang Technopreneurship Center.

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About Bow House

Bow House started as a fun little experiment with an old furniture factory a pack of lazy dogs at home. We’d noticed that the products available in the market were poorly made and designed, and didn’t resonate with dog-lovers like ourselves. So, we created a line of modern pet furniture for both dogs and their humans. We showed it to our friends, who showed it to their friends, and it kept going till we built a community of design and dog-loving people – and the rest, as they say, is history.

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