Quarantine Startups Augustinians take-off during the pandemic campus
Emy Rose G. Gallego
In the early stages of the pandemic, she found herself scrolling through YouTube watching her favorite culinary show when she stumbled upon a 10-minute recipe that caught her eye. As someone whose hobby is baking, she knew she had to try it out for herself, buying her new set of tools off the internet.
What impact does COVID-19 have on college students?
For many, the pandemic has left them feeling that they have lost their purpose. After being sent home, the crisis has deprived students of access to academic resources, extracurricular activities, and social events that were formerly a significant part of their lives. While many students have spent their spare time lying in bed all day surfing through Netflix, others have begun to explore ways to utilize their skills to earn money.
In that spirit, Augustinians Jeanivieve Pimentel and Julien* share their journeys and tips for students who, just like them, want to make the most of their free time at home.
The 21-year-old Political Science major Jeanivieve, started a clothing business, selling all sorts of apparel for women. “I tried online selling because I’d like to see my money grow and also because of extra time,” she said. “Nothing would happen anyway if I would just keep my money. I should begin investing at a young age, thus, I started PG’s Trend Collections. I can’t miss the opportunity.”
With no prior experience in e-commerce, Jeanivieve found launching an online shop to be no easy feat. During its first month, she would spend long and exhausting nights searching for credible suppliers, identifying target markets, and developing effective marketing strategies for her business.
“At first, the majority of my items are for adults, and they are available for pre-order. However, I soon realized that I am not good at marketing such items. To avoid being scammed, it took me a month of sleepless nights searching for suppliers (the most difficult part),” she expressed.
“As time passed and I moved through the business world, I was able to find my way. I decided to concentrate on women’s fashion trends. It is now easier for me to market my product, as compared to before when I was still confused with my target market.”
For Jeanivieve, PG’s Trend Collections is more than just a marketplace; it is a family thing. In fact, PG is named after her cousin Paul Gabriel who shared capital with her to start the business. As described by Jeanivieve, Paul is their family’s “sunshine.” “I named it after him because he is the sunshine of the family. It might be simple in origin, but it means so much to me. I also added trend collections because I will make sure that everything I sell is new to the market.”
Apart from handling finances, Jeanivieve equipped herself with the fundamentals behind running a business, including marketing and time management.
From a marketing perspective, social media has become her lifeline to customers. Her store’s Facebook page proved to be an excellent platform for engaging with existing and prospective customers. After creating her account, she had to test several photo styles and publish different wardrobe pieces to determine which of the contents generated the best responses.
”I almost do the posting every day,” she said. When I wasn’t posting my products, I would upload business quotations or videos so that my page would still have engagement.”
She added, “Actually I’m not a kind of seller who posts bogus/Joyjoy buyers. I’m not allowing myself to engage on those rules, because I believe that if she has no plans to take it, someone else will still purchase it. I don’t think that I will really give her the time and effort. Dinededma ko ang ganyang eksena. Once she cannot keep her records clean then definitely no next transactions for her.”
ON THE RISE
With the spike of online retailers like Jeanivieve, it has also become challenging to gain customers. However, for Jeanivieve, “cosellers are not threat.” “You should see them as your friend or sisters. Help each other grow because why will you pull each other down when you share the same purpose. Ang cheap cheap naman if crab mentality pa yung paiiralin nyo lalo na’t nasa pandemya tayo.”
Citing data from the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Business Name Registration System (BNRS), Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez during the Sulong Pilipinas 2021: Partners for Progress, A Pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Economic Development and Infrastructure Clusters Forum, reported that there were 86,726 business names registered for online businesses from April to December of 2020.
This was higher than the 1,848 business names registered for online businesses in March 2020 before the pandemic.
In an interview with The Augustinian, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Negosyo Center Business Counselor Jessa Marie Tibajares stated that entrepreneurs during the pandemic prefer online business because it is convenient and safe. “As face-to-face transaction becomes limited, many entrepreneurs engage in online business in order to continue their operations without compromising their safety. Customers also adapted online buying of products as the new norm because it is more convenient and safe instead of buying in physical stores,” she explained.
FOLLOW YOUR PASSION
“I’ve been cooking since I was young, it’s always been a hobby of mine,” Julien*, 21, said. “After being sent home to the province, I would frequently hunt for my favorite treats, but I couldn’t find any. Since I had a lot of free time, I thought, why not start making them?”
From the three-ingredient snack she makes to satisfy her “quarantine cravings”, she started creating a variety of cakes and pastries which she brings to family gatherings with no intentions of even running a business. However, as her friends and relatives continue to encourage her to venture into entrepreneurship, she began sharing her creations on social media. Receiving positive feedback from a virtual audience, Julien* then got the idea to turn her interest into a business. In April, Better Butter was founded.
Better Butter offers a variety of cookies including classics like chocolate chip and chocolate crinkles as well as brownies, bread, and cakes.
“At first, I have no plan of selling it,” Julien* said. “But then I realized that I had these equipment and recipes, and I have the chance to buy what I want without asking money from my parents, so why not?”
Julien* even admits that she doesn’t think she would have built this business if everything was normal in school. “I really don’t think I would have done this if quarantine never happened. I’m juggling my time between academics and as a member of an organization in the University.”
“Starting a food business wasn’t easy,” she said. It was a long process of research, experimenting with recipes, and creating unique packaging and digital content.
“The most difficult part is making a menu. This business also challenged my photography skills because I have to take photos of my products which will be posted in my social media pages. I must make sure that it appears nice and appealing.”
Navigating business ownership alongside a rigorous school schedule, Julien* has put her business on pause. However, she claimed that she learned a lot from running her business. “My business reminds me that I should never be afraid to try new things. Before, I was so hesitant to enter business because I am afraid of the losses. However, nothing worth having comes easy. If you exert effort, then you’ll be rewarded.”
With the internet and social media, there are a plethora of ways to learn new skills. Julien* and Jeanivieve advise aspiring entrepreneurs.
“You need to know how much your ingredients cost so you can make profits while also investing in new equipment,” Julien said.” Your business might be small at first, but everyone starts somewhere.”
“Start now. Plan for a long-term business. Just focus on the right people. And always remember that there are people who will not believe in you. You must always accept that truth. Because the moment you accept that, you learn to prioritize and give importance to those who really matters…Focus on your goal. The important thing is that you don’t step on anyone,” Jeanivieve shared.
The DTI also offers programs that aim to assist existing and aspiring entrepreneurs operate effectively in the e-commerce space. “In assisting new entrepreneurs, the DTI’s first role is to assist them in business name registration. It is also a pre-requisite in applying for Business permit in LGU. New entrepreneurs can also benefit the free seminars and trainings conducted by DTI through its Negosyo Centers,” elaborated Tibajares.
“How much might I earn if I sold this? Where would I find the ingredients?” she thought to herself. A few days after, she found a supplier and would soon start her food business
Published: April 25, 2022