Pandemic debrief: What life’s been like for entrepreneurs more than a year since the first lockdown
For many seasoned entrepreneurs, the last year and a half was a test of grit, a period of stomach-churning uncertainty, layoffs, debt, and delayed rent payments. For novice entrepreneurs–mostly people who lost or had significantly reduced incomes–the challenge was downright survival. 2020 was a unique period in history where the scale of economic devastation was felt by blue-chip companies and micro-businesses.
A report by a popular domain registrar said that 1 in 3 Filipino respondents in their 2020 Global Entrepreneurship Survey started a micro business when the pandemic began. Data from the Department of Trade and Industry tells a parallel story with its Business Name Registration (BNR) Division posting a registration growth rate of 91% in 2020 versus the 44% increase in 2019.
‘’In the absence of the traditional storefront, pandemic entrepreneurs turned to on-demand delivery services for order fulfillment, e-wallets for financial transactions, and social media for marketing. A new way of doing business emerged in one year, and alongside it came technology solutions meant to support enterprise success and not just survival,’’ says Dannah Majarocon, Managing Director of Lalamove Philippines.
These three stories tell us of tech-enabled solutions and permanent infrastructure that prime entrepreneurs for success beyond the pandemic:
An oven-fresh start: Baked Mac Overload by Candy
Candy Florentino started BMO with Php 5,000.00, upon the insistence of her kids. If there is a textbook definition of “pandemic entrepreneur,” she is sure to fit it. Born from a kitchen in Marikina and serving customers from as far as Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal, Candy says that one of her bigger challenges is keeping the oven-fresh quality of food.
“Food handling and communication among the rider, sender, and recipient are very important factors for food businesses like ours,’’ she says. Since BMO operations began, Candy has been using Lalamove by default because of service consistency and good rider training for food and package handling.
She adds, ‘’Since a majority of Lalamove riders have a Lalabag (insulated box), the risk of damaging the product is minimized and the food is intact once it reaches the customer. Most drivers are also very easy to communicate with and careful with their deliveries, so you’re sure that your product will safely reach the customer on time and in good shape.’’
Candy hopes of expanding her menu and moving to a commissary to serve a bigger set of customers.
Packing up the front-of-the-house: Square One Meals
“We are in the F&B business and the pandemic has greatly affected our industry. Due to the rising cases last March, our team felt it was safer to keep our establishments closed, but we knew that we needed to find a new revenue stream to ensure that our staff of ten people continued to have income despite our stores being closed for dine-in,’’ says Jenny Yrasegui of Square One Meals.
An opportunity to pivot landed on their laps when their partner’s client needed meals delivered to a quarantine facility. Less than a week later, they delivered their first batch of meals. For daily bulk deliveries, Jenny also uses Lalamove.
“Logistics was quite challenging for us considering that we had to launch during Holy Week,’’ she recalls. A question on service availability even during odd days was quickly answered by an app booking. ‘’Lalamove is convenient, reliable, and efficient. We have been using Lalamove even before launching this business, specific to our wine delivery service for our store and website www.winestore.ph.”
Jenny notes that on most occasions, businesses ‘’can’t sleep” and she is thankful that reliable on-demand services are now available and fully optimized for SMEs.
From home to homes across the country: Tahanan Furniture
Thea Yu is a crafter who works with artisans in Tahanan Furniture–a creative house based in Betis, Pampanga that offers custom furniture and home goods. While she still dreams of having a showroom in Manila, Thea has already done business with customers from as far as Boracay, CDO, and Davao.
For her, competitiveness matters. ‘’Social media [where we market] is so busy and there are so many great brand choices,’’ she says.
‘’To be on top of the competition, prices and speed of delivery need to be competitive. With a logistics partner like Lalamove, we get to ship even a four-seater sofa and coffee table right at the moment of the order. I guess people miss also being in stores that when someone orders, they want that instant gratification of getting the item right away. Lalamove does that for us, plus it guarantees that our items do not get damaged from transport.’’
The reopening of the economy will come both as a challenge and an opportunity for all entrepreneurs. The competition will be tougher, but technologies and new consumer behaviors in favor of the home-based entrepreneur might just outlive the pandemic.
‘’Lalamove is in the business of SME-optimized logistics. We help the likes of Thea, Jenny, and Candy in moving their products from point A to point B without compromising product quality. Our business grows in parallel with theirs, which means that for as long as we have entrepreneurs dreaming of bigger territories and more expansive markets, we would be by their side offering day-to-day speed and reliability,’’ says Dannah.
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