Chances are, you too have noticed the sudden increase of bakers, chefs, plantitas, and other types of online sellers during the quarantine. While creativity is one thing they have in common, most of them started with a small capital, too.
And if you are thinking of launching your own online business, there’s no better time than now. To inspire you, PhilSTAR L!fe interviewed five money-smart entrepreneurs who are now reaping the rewards of starting small during the pandemic.
IDEA #1: PLANTS AND POTS
Minimum budget: P1,800
If you’re a plantita thinking of ways to earn extra cash, there’s no need to dig deeper than your love for plants. Take a cue from Emarie Castillo, an online seller turned green thumb because of the quarantine.
“I began selling plants in April this year. Pero bago pa magsimula ang ECQ, nagbebenta na ako ng iba-ibang items online while working as a virtual assistant. Noong nagclick iyong succulents ko, pinagpatuloy ko ang pagbebenta,” she says in a quick online chat with PhilSTAR L!fe.
With only P3,000 as business capital, Emarie was able to launch her online store Mar-go Enchanted Florist and Garden of Dreams with succulents she bought all the way from Benguet.
Based in Dasmariñas, Cavite, Emarie’s online store continues to supply plants and flowers to both retail and wholesale customers as far as Zamboanga City
“Ang advantage para sa akin sa online selling ko ng plants is you have your own time, lalo na sa family,” she remarks.
Here are some of Emarie’s plants and flowers available for reselling.
Interested resellers may contact Emarie on the Mar-go Enchanted Florist and Garden of Dreams’ Facebook page.
Another item that would delight many plantitas are pots for their mini plant havens at home. Accounting supervisor Alessa Alberto has been earning additional income from selling abaca pots during her free time.
The 28-year-old plantita told PhilSTAR L!fe how her side job started as mere love for succulents and cactuses. “Dapat talaga para sa akin iyong plants na iyon. I posted them on Facebook on June 19, just to see if my friends would be interested in buying them. Pagka-post ko, may nag-inquire agad!” Alessa says.
Shortly afterward, her stocks were wiped out. It consisted of six abaca pots with plants, plus four other empty abaca pots she ordered online for only P940. Meanwhile, Alessa’s sales totaled to P1,840. “Kumita ako ng P900 sa first batch ko,” she remarks.
Alessa’s abaca pots continue to be a hit among plant parents. Apart from her resellers’ bulk orders, Alessa now rolls out over 40 pieces of abaca pots to her retail customers on a weekly basis.
Her reseller packages include 10 abaca pots for the price of PHP95 each, and PHP90 for those who would order 20 pieces and above.
To place your order, drop a message on Alessa Alberto’s Facebook page.
IDEA #2: HOME-COOKED BURGERS
Minimum budget: P2,000
Seven months of quarantine has made foodies crave for their favorite fast-food meals every now and then. Emille Colis and his mother Cynthia took this opportunity to build their home-based business, Burger Bomb.
A freelance photographer and graphic designer, Emille refers to Burger Bomb as one of the many ways he is making ends meets during the pandemic. He tells PhilSTAR L!fe, “The main objective when I launched Burger Bomb was to help my mother get through this pandemic dahil my other business closed when coronavirus hit the country. I own a photo booth business, FunBox PH, but since it was too dangerous and risky to go out, all events stopped, including mine.”
He adds, “I flip burgers and deliver them by day, and then I turn into a freelance photographer and graphic designer by night. I am surprised na nagagawa ko lahat iyon ng sabay-sabay pero with this pandemic, one cannot be too comfortable with a single source of income.”
Emille is not only efficient but practical enough to keep his startup cost at a minimum. “Believe it or not, we only started with P2,000 as capital,” he states. “The moment I thought about this business, I immediately set aside that amount from the rest of my cash on hand. We spent that for the griller, other kitchen equipment, ground beef, cheddar cheese, buns, ketchup, mayo, lettuce, as well as stickers for the burgers’ packaging.”
Emille and his mom Cynthia launched Burger Bomb on June 19. With the help of his girlfriend Lhia on marketing, Burger Bomb has earned almost 13 times their capital during its first month. “We were really happy with our sales during the first month. We received good feedbacks from friends and even from complete strangers who just saw our ads online. We had a total of PHP25,515 gross income then. Come August, we are already getting 10 to 15 minimum orders per day,” Emille explains.
Looking back on his journey, Emille has this advice to share with budding entrepreneurs: “It helps if passion mo iyong ginagawa mo kasi no matter how hard it is, it’s still enjoyable. Secondly, it’s okay to start small. I couldn’t be any happier sa sales, kahit P5,000 or P10,000 lang ‘yan. The point is, God blesses us with customers every day. That alone is something to be happy about!”
IDEA #3: FRESH FRUITS
Minimum budget: P5,000
Want goods that are profitable any day of the year? Try your hand at selling fresh fruits. Brothers Kyle, John Dexter, and Brian Buencamino have been getting their money’s worth from putting up their online store, Fortune Fruits, on September 1, 2018.
In an interview with PhilSTAR Life, Kyle revealed that operating a brick-and-mortar business in 2017 pushed them to transition to online selling shortly afterward. He recalls, “We started with a few lemonade stalls in malls. But malls in Manila are just too congested. So, we just decided to supply our competitors with the fruits they needed."
They began the groundwork with just three boxes of lemons they imported for P1,450 each from China.
Kyle continues, "They (competitors) eventually became our regular clients then friends. This became our inspiration in pursuing our fruit business and making our service even better.”
Two years after its launch, Fortune Fruits had grown into a brand supplying lemons, cherries, and other fruits to over 50 stalls and 14 resellers within Metro Manila.
They were able to turn the ECQ to their advantage by making Fortune Fruits readily available for customers in different parts of the region. “It wasn’t hard because those delivering food were allowed to pass through checkpoints. Naglagay rin kami ng printout ng DTI permit sa car,” Dexter says.
Their reliability amid the crisis rewarded the brothers with an increase in retail sales. “During the first month of ECQ, our deliveries ranged from 50 to 100 per week. It resulted in an increase in retail sales by almost 80 percent,” Dexter states.
The Buencaminos deem it best to sell fruits during the pandemic, as Dexter says, “Ang fruits, right now, ay isa sa pinaka need ng mga tao. Mas madali at much cheaper kumain ng fruits kesa magkasakit. Also, our customers make it a point to buy fruits regularly since they first ordered from us.”
Interested resellers may purchase boxes of their fresh produce at a starting price of P5,000. The boxes may contain either one or two of your preferred fruits, or a complete bunch of mixed fruits. Choices include New Zealand green kiwis; Fragrant pears; lemons; Fuji apples; US red, green, and black grapes; and US berries.
To place your order, click here.
IDEA #4: BIKE DELIVERY SERVICE
Minimum budget: P5,000
With the huge increase of motorcycle messengers nationwide, Daryl Montehermoso and her friends found it fitting to start their bike delivery collective, White Helmet Co.
“This pandemic pushed all of us to get the most financial security we can lock in,” says Daryl, who works as part-time studio manager and operations assistant, apart from being a bike courier.
Prior to building White Helmet Co., Daryl and her friends Maggie Yusay, Alecxiemar Arcangel, Nikko Lopez, Seth Meric Nino, and Patrick Santillan applied as riders for two big-time delivery service companies in the country. But not one of them received a response.
“We really wanted to push for it, so we created our own rate cards. With Seth's experience in ‘pasa-buys’ and Maggie's knowledge in graphics, we were able to upload a simple post informing everyone that we're now available to be their couriers,” Daryl recounts to PhilSTAR L!fe. Positive feedback from the netizens urged Daryl and her team to put up a Facebook page for White Helmet Co. on August 20, 2020.
One month after its launch—and with rates cheaper than most couriers—White Helmet Co. has been receiving as much as five bookings in a day. “Our rates can vary depending on the item weight and the pick-up location's distance from the delivery address. The first two kilometers start at PHP 40 as for the weight it depends on the cyclist's capacity. Bookings vary per covered area. Our fixie boys (fixed gear cyclists) are located in the north and could get as much as three to five deliveries in a day.”
Daryl and her team are fortunate enough for not spending any peso in forming their collective. But here’s her tip for those interested in the same initiative: “What I could share is that, my road bike with a steel-frame was bought for PHHP 5,000 plus shipping. It's a different story for the others at the collective because some are triathletes or long-time cyclists so they have S-Works and Ave Maldea, which are not cheap at all. A single cyclist could probably spend PHP 10,000 for a starter bike, helmet, and carrier basket.”
Asked what the perks are of starting their own collective, Daryl replies, “We want to serve the community without giving too much of ourselves that would lead to burnout. Everyone in our collective have day jobs and a varying biking skills. We share that information with the people who book us, so that they would understand the availability, timelines, and difference of a bike courier from typical motorbikes messengers. Right now, it’s really less about getting a lot of bookings, but more of how we can be the best couriers for those who trust us.”
Banner image sources: Alessa Alberto, Daryl Montehermoso, Fortune Fruits, and Emile Colis.