Posted: Fri 6th Nov 2015
Enterprise Nation member Charl Asuit discusses the story behind her Filipino pop-up restaurant business, maynila.
What was your motivation to start your own business?
I was an IT consultant so I've been to and lived in many places for work. In all these places, there's always a Chinese restaurant or takeaway within easy reach, even in the most unlikely places. It frustrated me that, unlike Chinese food, there are not many people who have tasted Filipino food, let alone know about it, outside of the Philippines and Filipino homes. This eventually became the driving force for me to start maynila with a business partner, Roni Bandong.
Whilst you were starting up how did you balance home life with work?
Balancing home life with running a business is a challenge and still is. Since we don't have our own premises yet, I spend my time doing tasks related to maynila from home and the separation between personal and work was effectively non-existent. To make matters more challenging, I'm also running a freelance career in web and digital marketing. I try to keep one day per week to do things just for myself and my partner and avoid checking my emails.
What's your top tip for effective sales and marketing?
As a new business, we cannot afford to pay an agency to do PR and marketing for us. To do this, I'm using my know-how on maximising digital media and copywriting skills to promote maynila's events. There are many resources on the internet to help you gain this skill for you business. For sales, you need to understand how much you'll be spending to deliver your product or service to the great level of detail. When you do, it will be easier to set your prices in a way that you keep you from losing money.
Which tools could you not live without in your business?
We run maynila using Trello. It's where we organise and keep track of all tasks that we need to do. I'm a certified project manager so I find that task-based management is a good way to manage anything. We have a Trello board for every maynila event to keep us on track, including our collaborators.
What movie, song or book offers you the most business inspiration and why?
I'd say the song Don't Stop Me Now by Queen comes to mind because I really feel passionate about launching maynila and felt that if I didn't do it now. I might never do it at all.
What's been your biggest business success to date?
When we announced our first ever pop-up dinner event, bookings were full within two weeks. It prompted us to set up another sitting, which was also 80% booked. The owner of the venue said that they've never had two sittings for a pop-up before and was impressed that we managed to pull it off!
If you had to live on a desert island with one entrepreneur who would it be and why?
I suppose Jamie Oliver because he made food his business not just by cooking it.
What are your ambitions for the next five years?
In the next five years, I'd love for maynila to have hosted a food event at least once in all major cities in the UK outside of London. It would be a milestone signifying that we've truly put the word out on Filipino food across Britain. It would be great also for maynila to have its own premises; not just a restaurant but also a space where people can develop their food ideas or business.
How does being a member of Enterprise Nation help your business grow?
Enterprise Nation gives me access to attend workshops that help my business. Entry to these events are really affordable (some are even free!) which doesn't break my bank account. It's also great meeting people who, like myself, are trying to make their business a success.
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