| FILIPINO DELICACY SITE SETS SIGHT ON
Jane L. Cabagnot
Armed only with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a starting
capital of only 10,000 Philippine pesos (US$207 at PhP48.323=$1)
over a year ago, the owner of this one-year-old upstart company
offering Filipino delicacies is now setting his sights on
foreign shores, even as plans to expand business locally continues.
In an interview with i.t. matters last Friday at the
eCommerce Expo in Mandaluyong City, central Metropolitan Manila,
Jovel Cipriano said that at least two businessmen from Germany
and Sweden have expressed interest in becoming the distributor
of the company's goods in their respective countries. He added
that negotiations with a German businessman were finalized
a few weeks ago. The German businessman, who Mr. Cipriano
said is married to a Filipina, is also planning to put up
a German version of the site. He added that his German connection
would be the one to distribute his items to Asian stores in
some European cities.
The site, located at http://www.pinoydelikasi.com/, now carries about 70 products
online coming from various parts of the country from an initial
offering of nine items when it began operations in January
last year. Some of the more popular items are dried mangoes,
danggit (a kind of fish eaten as dried), pusit
(squid), pastillas, barquillos, dilis (anchovies) and
even lechon (roasted pig). Mr. Cirpiano said, however,
that about 200 additional items will be uploaded on the site,
adding that he expects these items to be part of the Web list
within the year.
"It takes a lot of work to upload an item because you have
to set each item up for a photo shoot in a studio, and then
write a description per item," says this 34-year old entrepreneur
who quit his five-year-old job as an IBM executive to devote
his full attention to his new start-up company.
Currently, though, he gets about 60% of his profits from
his two brick-and-mortar stores in Cebu (central Visayas)
and Manila and the remaining 40% from online transactions.
Depending on the item, Mr. Cipriano said that his marked-up
price from the supplier's price is only about 10% to 20%.
There are now about 20 regular online customers.
Other plans for this year include at
least three brick-and-mortar stores in malls in Metro Manila,
Mr. Cipriano said, although he admitted that he expects future
growth of the company to come from abroad. He also expects
that, in two years, online transactions would exceed that
of his brick-and-mortar business.
"Eventually, my network should be bigger out of the country,
compared with my network here and the benefit of e-commerce
would come in once I sign up with foreign distributors already,"
says Mr. Cipriano, who now employs nine people, including
a content manager and other technical and field staff. He
added that some Filipinos living in California have likewise
expressed interest in becoming distributors of Pinoydelikasi
Aside from being a virtual distributor of other branded delicacy
products, Mr. Cipriano said that he is exploring opportunities
of developing Pinoydelikasi's branded products like crispy
dilis, dried mango and polvoron.
Mr. Cipriano said his company now faces the challenge of
meeting stringent global quality standards, from quality of
the product itself, to packaging to reliable delivery.
"The payment solution is all too expensive, and the reason
why I did not put up it yet in my Web site is because I'll
be paying more for its service fees instead of making money
on my product," he said.
Customers currently pay through bank transfer or cash on
delivery, with a minimum of five items per delivery.