In continuation of my series of interviews with experienced/aspiring Pinoy entrepreneurs, in this blog post I have interviewed entrepreneur Harley Pascua, who co-founded three thriving businesses. Harley always wanted to start his own business even before graduating in college. After college, he didn’t waste time, and started his own software business with his friends while maintaining a day job. Fast forward to today, Harley is now involved in diverse and blooming businesses. Since all of the businesses he has co-founded are capital intensive, they have decided to set them all up as corporations so that they can invite investors in the near future for business expansion.
FrustratedBillionaire: Tell us something about your businesses.
Harley: I am part of the three businesses below. Two of which is related to consulting, and another, a family restaurant business.
We are a software services company serving clients in Europe, US and Australia through our partners in Germany. We conceptualize, design, develop and maintain software platforms that are being used in more than 70 countries worldwide. Established in 2014, we now have 8 employees serving 4 customers in 3 different time zones worldwide. Starting with an initial capital of just PHP 125,000.00 the business is now earning at least 7 million Pesos a year from software services alone.It’s often complicated staring your own software development & consulting business. Kudos to Harley and his team for their success in this niche business.
Pascua’s Freestyle Kitchen (Owned and operated by Hillpoint Ventures Inc.)
We started a chic casual dining restaurant in Bauan, Batangas to serve modern Batangas cuisine to break the stereotype that Batangas can only offer your ordinary Bulalo and Lomi. We are currently looking for investors who can help us expand our business to more urbanized areas in the province. Established in 2014.
“Ano ga? kain na!” Courtesy of Pascua’s Freestyle Kitchen.
We are a business services company that cater to the accounting, employee benefits processing and IT infrastructure needs of small businesses. Established in 2015, we have assisted a modest number of companies on their business registration and bookkeeping needs.
Ops.ph has an interesting business model: to help companies successfully launch in the Philippines utilizing their extensive expertise in the Philippine business landscape (business registration, accounting & finance, employee benefits management, and IT infrastructure administration services). From Ops.ph
FrustratedBillionaire: What sparked your decision to start your own business? Are you working now, or did you have a day job before and just decided to switch to creating your own business and be your own boss?
Harley: Before I graduated college, I’ve always wanted to have my own business. The freedom of unleashing your creativity and seeing your work affect the lives of people for the better has inspired me to work hard to be able to start my own business.
Right after graduation, I took a day job at a small software company in Makati while building a hotel software product on the side with friends which we planned to sell to small to medium-sized hotel and resorts. We got investors from the local hotel industry but the company didn’t take off due to internal squabbling between factions within investor groups.
After arriving from the US for another job, I decided to restart efforts to launch the botched hotel software product this time with Filipino investors based in the US. That venture made me realize how difficult it is to do business with people who don’t understand your product. After losing all of my savings, we decided to just close down as we cannot get into an agreement to raise funds to keep the company afloat.
I don’t play corporate politics very well so when I saw an opportunity to join another technology startup, I left my job at the Philippines’ largest wholly-Filipino owned IT outsourcing firm to help the small company based in Germany (Netzwelt Inc.). I’ve been with them for the past 6 years and have successfully launched software projects for clients worldwide. It wasn’t long until I decided to invest most of my savings into the family restaurant (Pascua’s Freestyle Kitchen) and the accounting firm (Ops.ph), which I put up with a partner to initially service the first two companies that I founded.
FrustratedBillionaire: You definitely had a lot of awesome success stories under your belt, and have learned a lot from your experiences throughout the years. What were the challenges that you encountered when you first started your businesses?
Harley: Basically we have three major issues when we started our businesses:
Manpower This is always a major issue for service-oriented businesses. It is difficult to find competent and independent people who are willing to dive-in to a roller coaster lifestyle that is working in a small starting company without much rules and regulations. Our school system was designed to teach students how to follow orders, not to design and develop systems where orders are derived from which makes hiring the right people more difficult.
Capital You need balls of steel when venturing into capital-intensive businesses like restaurants. One must be emotionally prepared to see how fast money goes down the drain especially when it’s due to your own mistakes. My basic formula: If you don’t have funds 3x the amount of your estimated initial working capital available, and if you cannot even fathom having to close down your shop and seeing your money down the drain, then perhaps you shouldn’t start a capital intensive business.
Working with family Before starting a business, make sure that all the people involved, especially when they are members of the family. Understand that running a business should be separate from one’s personal life. If your mother or father couldn’t accept that someone else is in charge, then maybe it’s not worth going through business with them because it will surely make a dent on your personal relationship with them.
FrustratedBillionaire: Aside from your current business partnerships, haw are you diversifying your portfolio?
Harley: In parallel, I have now expanded my portfolio by investing in local stocks and Bitcoin. Having extensive experience in software development, I feel that I have a definite advantage in this field as I know how trading strategies can be automated.
For those who are interested, you may contact Harley and his team via:
5th Floor Twin Cities Condominium
110 Legaspi Street, San Lorenzo
42 F. Mangobos Street, Poblacion I
Bauan, Batangas 4201
Key take-away points from Harley’s business experiences:
- If you cannot bear to gamble and then lose all your funds in your business, start small. From there, you can slowly grow your business while learning from your ‘bearable’ failures. It will certainly take time to recover your investments and realize the returns – understand that a smaller risk appetite on your side mostly means a slower return/growth of your investment.
- If you can afford to risk most of your capital and are ready to lose it all (Basically, you’re prepared for the worst. No guts, no glory.), make sure that you have enough emergency funds in your bank so you can survive the blows of having a business and not lose your mind.
- When working with friends and/or family, make sure to set limitations and agree beforehand on the conditions of your business. Starting a business is risky enough, avoid losing your loved ones along the way.
- When hiring for your start up business, bringing in the best will always be a challenge. Keep in mind that employees are a vital part of the success of your business (they may choose to be an important contributor to your business goals or otherwise). Carefully screen and select your employees.
- When seeking investors for your start-up businesses, make sure that you and your investors are aligned in terms of passion and business goal. Having different views and goals between stakeholders makes for an endless discussion and frequent disagreements when it comes to setting the direction of the businesses (especially the funding).
Are you a business owner and wish to share your success story and be featured on my blog? Feel free to comment, share your tips, or ask a question. Please also like me on Facebook and Twitter! Thank you!