77-year-old doesn’t shy away from tech terms
Even at 77 years old, his love for new things has not waned a bit. Lawyer-businessman Edilberto B. Bravo never runs away from big words such as “connectivity” and “disruptive technology.” Rather, he faces them head-on and appropriately adopts them to suit his experiences, his businesses, and his markets.
For instance, Bravo is filled with much anticipation, making sure that his company, U-BIX Corporation, is at the forefront of the era of 3D printing.
U-BIX Corporation is a 39-year-old company that engages in the sales and distribution of office machines and their related services. Over the years, U-BIX has evolved into an integrated office system and service provider by acquiring distributorships for Riso Digital Duplicators and Okamura Office Furniture Systems. The company also obtained US franchise agreements with Service Master (facilities maintenance and janitorial services), Terminix (termite and pest control products and services), and Merry Maids (home cleaning services).
“We are ready to bring in the 3D machines. We have spent a bit of time studying which company to represent in the country. 3D printing has been exciting players in fields of medicine, architecture, automotive, gaming, filmmaking, and manufacturing and we want to be first here in the country,” enthuses Bravo.
The Harvard Business Review website describes 3D printing as a “small evolutionary step from spraying toner on paper to putting down layers of something more substantial (such as plastic resin) until the layers add up to become a three-dimensional object.” Bravo explains that one of the most important applications of 3D printing is in medicine. With 3D printing, surgeons can produce mock-ups of parts of their patient’s body which needs to be operated upon.
“For instance, a person meets an accident and half of his face has to be reconstructed. The doctor may scan the face of the patient and using the 3D system, it may be replicated on the affected part of the face within hours. It may serve as the basis for the reconstructive surgery or the making of the prosthesis of a certain part of the body,” Bravo explains.
While pundits have been predicting the demise of the copier industry, this seasoned businessman thinks otherwise. There is no way that the copier business will allow itself to be rendered irrelevant even in this age of paperless communication, Bravo says. In fact, it keeps on reinventing itself to keep up with the times.
“When I was with Citibank in the ‘60s, we were already being trained to prepare for a cashless society. Are we in a cashless society today? It is the same with paper. They always dream of a paperless society, but the truth is every time technology improves, it uses more and more paper. The office copier industry has not stopped growing and reinventing itself. When I first came to this business, the only copier we had was black and white, and the fastest speed was about 20 copies a minute. If you need 25,000 copies a day, you fill your area with a lot of independent copiers. Today, we are in the age of connectivity, we have transformed copying into a whole range called publishing and printing, in full color at that. Machines have become multifunctional. Print-on-demand (POD) is the thing now where corporate publications and even books are done,” says Bravo.
Bravo graduated from the UP College of Law in the early ‘60s and immediately joined the Ponce Enrile Siguion Reyna Montecillo and Belo Law Offices as a litigator. But his stellar legal education and experience did not deter him from venturing into his own enterprise and eventually making it big.
“There were no entrepreneurs in my family. I am the son of teachers and I did not have a capital to begin with. But the seed of entrepreneurship has always been within me. I took big risks and fortunately, they paid off. I put up my own bookstore which used to import paper from Japan and that was how I was led to the copier machines business in 1974 as exclusive distributor of Konica Minolta copiers. Do I miss practicing law? I am the type who never looks back once I have moved on. Looking back brings problems and regret. I never regret, I just keep moving ahead,” says Bravo.
What he says he has plenty of, then and to this very day, is passion—lots and lots of passion.
“You have to be passionate about something because entrepreneurship is more about innovation and creation. It is not so much about the desire to become rich. Even with my children, I tell them that in everything they do, the only guideline is to love what they do, to play and not just to work, to have a lot of fun—and that is how you make a living,” Bravo explains.
He adds he relies much on all three essential faculties of an entrepreneur—his head, his heart, and his gut. “I am a little of each, it is not being one or the other because you cannot be totally intuitive so as not to be able to validate some of your assumptions objectively. While intuition is an essential part of a focused person, you cannot rely on intuition alone, you need objective facts to guide you so won’t make too many big mistakes. You must also have a very critical mind to reason inductively or deductively,” says Bravo who admits he is currently transfixed on the success stories of young billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams of Twitter.
Bravo however is fascinated not just by businesses that involve technology. There is also a facet of him that likes to celebrate the goodness of life through quality food and drinks, through unforgettable leisurely experience that he wants other people to partake of.
For instance, his company Bravo Best Foods, with headquarters located along JP Rizal in Makati, lays claim to being the only bar in the Philippines that has its own microbrewery installed right at the bar. Seeing that microbrewery is fast becoming a trend in Asia nowadays, Bravo Best Foods wants to be ahead of everybody and offers authentic European beers.
It is also now a favorite habitué for people searching for an eclectic mix of Italian and Asian dishes, as well as authentic Prague beers brewed Czech-style. Expats also frequent the place which has been designed to give it an old European feel.
In the Visayas, Bravo owns and operates a hot spring resort in Dauin, Dumaguete. A 150-room resort hotel will also soon be completed in Siquijor.
Through the years, Bravo has sharply honed his talent for spotting good business opportunities. But he admits that serendipity still has a lot to do with success.
“Serendipity is a very interesting word, I believe that part of my skill, if you may call it, is my ability to spot something and focus on it. Eventually, I begin to see its relevance to what I do,” he says.
Yet, amid his success, Bravo points to three things as the best investments—with the best returns—he has ever made. First is the study of law, second is raising a family, and third is sending bright, young people from the provinces to school.
“Most precious investment is study of law. The second is my family, and I am being truthful. A family provides you an anchor. And third is paving the path for a brighter future for children through education. This is so that no one could say that there is a young boy or lawyer who could have been a lawyer, an engineer, or a doctor but was not able to become so because no one helped them,” concludes Bravo.
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