5 lessons from the #BeTheBoss Awards winners

WINNING SMILES. The Bozz awardees share the stage with PLDT Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan. Photo courtesy of PLDT Smart SME Nation

WINNING SMILES. The Bozz awardees share the stage with PLDT Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan.

Photo courtesy of PLDT Smart SME Nation

MANILA, Philippines – The #BeTheBoss Awards was the country’s first crowdsourced social media search for up-and-coming entrepreneurs who have used digital tools to grow their businesses. PLDT Smart SME Nation, together with Rappler, recognized 5 of today’s most promising Filipino SME owners during the awards night held at The Palace Pool Club in BGC last year.

“Filipinos are known worldwide for their creativity and ingenuity. As more innovative digital technologies become available, we will definitely see an increase in the creative use of these technologies in promoting ideas, businesses, and advocacies,” said Kat Luna-Abelarde, former First Vice President/Head of PLDT Smart SME Nation and Wireless Consumer Head of Smart Communications, Inc.

Chosen from hundreds of nominations, the 5 Bozz winners have a clear understanding of how digital technology can make a difference in their lives as well as those of their customers. Their success stories contain lessons fit for every aspiring entrepreneur.

Make your business available anywhere, anytime

MobKard’s Carlo Calimon was named the Bozz for Mobile Readiness for developing a service that consumers can utilize wherever and whenever. Born out of Calimon’s desire to help consumers save and stay informed, MobKard allows customers to receive exclusive promos in real-time on their smartphones as they approach a store or a restaurant.

The mobile app digitizes traditional plastic privilege cards so merchants can create flash sales in stores. In doing so, MobKard also helps business owners reach out and connect with consumers by empowering them to develop location-based alerts and track user purchases. 

Build a trusted name

Kimstore’s Kim Lato was recognized as the Bozz for E-commerce for successfully maximizing the online marketplace. What started out as a Multiply store in 2006 is now a top online brand in Filipino tech shopping. This is largely due to Lato’s commitment to building a reliable brand name. 

“The online market is now growing. More and more consumers are seeing the value of going online to shop. Every person who accesses the Internet is a person whom we at Kimstore can reach. There are now technologies that are available to help us reach more consumers and do everything that a bigger retail store can, simply by getting in touch with them through the Internet,” says Lato.

Give back to people in need

Kristine Reyes-Lopez emerged as the Bozz for Social Responsibility for combining commerce and charity through the power of technology. Her company, Messy Bessy Cleaners, Inc., produces and sells cleaning and personal care items online made from biodegradable, non-toxic, and all-natural materials. The company operates with project HOUSE (Helping Ourselves through Sustainable Enterprises), a group of enterprises that employs and educates formerly abused, jailed, and trafficked young adults.

Lopez saw that digital technology could help social enterprises succeed by letting them create value for consumers.

Connections and communities are important

Wedding videographer Jason Magbanua took home the Bozz for Social Media award for utilizing Facebook and Youtube to create meaningful connections with customers. By making his videos easily viewable and shareable online, Magbanua grew an online community of brand advocates and fans over the past decade. The “holy grail of wedding videographers” has been active on social media since 2000, creating a valued service in a market that is all about creating intimate connections.

“My work has primarily been about capturing the emotions of people in their special days. We didn’t have social media to help us share our work when we started 15 years ago, but we’ve cultivated that community ever since. With the advent of social media, we are now able to share these emotions to more people,” says Magbanua.

Always keep your customers in mind

Chino Atilano was awarded as the Bozz for Customer Service for his company’s use of digital platforms to help businesses provide better service. TimeFree Innovations is a virtual queuing solutions company that allows users to get an e-ticket for a queue through their smartphone without having to physically line up.

Atilano’s recognition of customer importance has enabled him to bring convenience to the lives of people while allowing companies to better manage their customer-facing operations.

Mitch Locsin, who takes the reins as the new Head of PLDT Smart SME Nation, says: “We are indeed proud to note that these digital entrepreneurs are creating a real difference in the lives of Filipinos and have sparked the growth of SMEs. We hope that this new breed of industry movers and shakers will inspire other SMEs to embrace technology driven platforms and become digital.

“SME Nation is committed to helping small and medium businesses adapt to the challenges of the digital age, by providing them with solutions that will let them succeed online. By leveling the playing field using technology, we aim to empower entrepreneurs and give them the tools that would allow them to achieve sustainable growth and make it big in their respective industries.”

The 5 winners each received a full-powered BizKit, which consists of business-enhancing tools and gadgets including a year-long data subscription, to keep them connected to their customers and updated on their operations even they’re when on the go. To celebrate the revolutionary entrepreneurs and to connect them to a leading hub and ecosystem of innovation, PLDT Smart SME Nation is extending the grand prize of a Silicon Valley tour to all 15 finalists this February.

To learn more about the #BeTheBoss Awards, visit rappler.com/betheboss. – Rappler.com