Building a startup at a young age

January 03 '18

Having your own startup is not easy at a young age. I know there's plenty of stories featuring young entrepreneurs thriving in the business world while barely out of their teens. That is not the case for me. I delved into social entrepreneurship four years ago. Full-time. Since then, it has not become and easy feat to pull off. As a fresh fine arts college graduate, I had no clue how businesses work. All I knew was that I want to do work that serves others while making a profit for myself. I tried the traditional route, getting a job and living for money. I realized that I easily get bored with repetitive tasks. I would have resigned on the third month if not for my officemate who persuaded me to give it a year just to have a "clean record". I gave in and stayed. After one year, I became a full-time entrepreneur head-on. Boy, it was bloody! I realized that being a creative entrepreneur is not easy. You need to learn what you can offer, know what the market wants and would be willing to pay for, and see how you can sustain your enterprise in the long term. Three years later, I’m beginning to realize that you have to be the right person at the right industry with the right skills and products to become an effective entrepreneur. Being a young startup founder, you have to grow up fast and learn fast too! The world keeps on changing- you need to keep up and play it to your advantage. 

Now, I know better and have learned a lot from the missteps I had. I’m constantly challenging myself to grow and become a better entrepreneur. 

Juggling a balance between social responsibility and gaining profits is hard but I think that's what makes a social entrepreneur different from a traditional one. Many factors are needed to make a socially responsible enterprise work: the need for a good plan, the effectiveness of execution, the feedback of the market, the product-market fit, how to manage your team and how you as a founder can come out alive and sane! Now, I am a year into figuring out where my social entreprise is heading. But beyond that, what I realized is that the more I grow, the better chance my startup has to become successful so my suggestion for UNDP to help young social entrepreneurs like us is to go help us find mentors who can really come with us to the ground and guide us on what to do for the first year of our enterprise journey. 

Lucky for me I love reading books and learning but for most of the people who have the heart to help out society but have no entrepreneurial skills, a learning avenue of guides, mentors, workshops and resources which is accessible would be a great help.

We have big dreams of changing the direction of the education system here in Southeast Asia, especially in the Philippines. We have a long way to go but we plan to take it one page at a time. It may take years of hard work and lots of hurdles to overcome but for me personally, I just trust that as long as I commit to make it work, eventually, everything will fall right into place.