Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Venturing through Student Entrepreneurship

By Genno Gabriel Rabaya | The Sillimanian Magazine

The wittiest minds build booming businesses. 

While some business enthusiasts journey a career later on in their lives, others venture to one early on, managing both their academics and work. With what seems to be a test on their time management, strategic planning, and traversing through adversities, these student business owners are here to tell you their own victories and struggles.

Gerome Jan Dolorfino (Cafe Estacion)

The recent increase of coffee enthusiasts around the nation is definitely evident with the rise of local cafés. In the city of Dumaguete, where students from various universities flock to spaces for coffee and studies, café owners have found an opportunity to establish their business and utilize the students’ needs. One such business owner is student entrepreneur and the owner of Café Estacion, Gerome Jan Dolorfino. This is how Dolorfino, a fourth-year information technology student, built his business: one coffee bean at a time.

Following his passion for coffee, Dolorfino opened Café Estacion in January 2023. “Eventually, I got to collaborate with other people from the coffee community and helped me grow my business into what it is today,” he said. 

His family was the first to help him in putting the business together, especially with finances. He also said his friends were crucial in the business’ growth.

Just like other businesses, Dolorfino admitted that they have faced their own set of challenges along the way. 

“One struggle would be gaining my Return of Investment (ROI). There are also times that customer traffic is at its lowest, and of course, struggles with paperworks,” he shared. Despite this, Dolorfino still understands that their priority lies on the customers’ needs and their products’ quality.

“My business taught me a lot of things: decision making, discipline, financial management, and managing responsibilities very well,” Dolorfino expressed. 

His message to other aspiring student entrepreneurs is to never be afraid to take risks. Dolorfino said, “Cliche as it may sound, it’s one of every business’ way [of] taking their business to the next level.”

Beatriz Ellen Gatanela and Braullo Macias (Uncle Munch Pizza Pockets)

One’s childhood dream can take you anywhere. And for these two student entrepreneurs, they grabbed the opportunity to make their dreams come true. 

Beatriz Ellen Gatanela and Braullo Macias, both fourth-year business students, managed to sustain their start-up, Uncle Munch Pizza Pockets, which they founded during their college week last April 2023.

According to Gatanela and Macias, “Uncle Munch Pizza Pockets were created to make pizza easier to enjoy, more affordable, and with a Filipino twist.” To them, they’re lucky to have family and friends who are 100-percent supportive in embarking on their journey to success.

The business partners also found it challenging to balance their academic commitments with their business responsibilities when they first started out. “We had only two practical subjects—cooking—and this ‘business implementation’ subject that is directly associated with our business operations, which made it easier to navigate our academic and entrepreneurial pursuits simultaneously,” they said. 

Starting out with their business meant they had to handle all aspects of operations by themselves—from production to cooking and even marketing. However, their dedication to this venture led to sales flourishing and the expansion of their team. 

“As our small business continues to expand, we have reached a point where it can support our personal financial needs,” they added.

When asked about downhills, Gatanela and Macias assert that mistakes are valuable lessons which help entrepreneurs grow their business. They expressed, “The more you make, the more you learn what works and what doesn’t, leading to better decisions and improvements.”

Alexa Jane Guinit (Thrift for Keeps PH)

“As a business student, I know how risky and tricky starting a business is. At that time, I was afraid to step out of my comfort zone and take the risk and responsibility of starting my own,” said Alexa Jane Guinit, a fourth-year financial management student and the owner of Thrift for Keeps PH

Taking the risk truly paid off for Guinit as she managed to push her business to greater heights. The store, operating since July 2020, is primarily focused on selling thrifted denim jeans and trousers while also advocating for affordable and sustainable fashion.

As a student entrepreneur, Guinit felt the full support from her family in this venture, with cousins helping her in day-to-day business operations. 

“The keys to sustaining both time-demanding aspects of my life are time management, knowing your whys, and setting your priorities right,” she said.

However, Guinit stumbled upon hurdles when her business got in the way of her academics, noting that her busy schedule was the biggest challenge. 

“Despite my effort to balance both, there was a time when I fell short in doing so, especially in making sure I met customer demands and expectations while juggling to excel in academics and BS Org life [or extracurriculars],” Guinit shared. Nonetheless, she managed to overcome this by stepping back and providing a solution.

Establishing her business helped support her and her family’s financial needs. Additionally, she also found a “profound sense of  purpose even while studying.” She added that she came across a lot of doubts and unknown paths, but taking the leap led her to where she is now.

“Business is a risk in itself, and an entrepreneur must find ways to mitigate these risks and turn them into opportunities,” Guinit advised.

Ryla Abrio (Raikuuph)

Social media and technology has forged several opportunities for online businesses to thrive. Especially with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses conquered distances through online platforms. 

For artist and entrepreneur Ryla “Raikuu” Abrio, a second-year fine arts student, she managed to utilize both her digital skills and artistic expertise. With her online store named Raikuuph or Raikuu Studio, she was able to sell original and fanart merchandise like stickers, prints, tote bags, and the like.

According to Raikuu, her parents have been supporting her art and business decisions,  encouraging her to keep going amid the fuss of having to balance academic responsibilities and a business.

“To manage my time effectively, I prioritize finishing my schoolwork early. This allows me to dedicate my time to focus on my business,” she shared. Relying heavily on this strategy made it possible to balance both aspects of her life. 

Sometimes, she prioritizes her studies over her business, informing customers of any delays with her online shop to focus on academic work. Raikuu stated, “Finding a balance between my studies and business is crucial, even if it means making tough choices.”

Other challenges she stumbled upon were having a tight budget and building brand awareness. She was able to overcome these by budgeting carefully, building an online presence, and most importantly, seeking help when needed.

Raikuu noted that having an online business has been a positive influence on both her personal and academic life. “Running my own business has taught me valuable skills like managing money and time, which have made balancing academics and entrepreneurship easier,” she expressed.

To aspiring student entrepreneurs, Raikuu said, “Remember to believe in yourself and your abilities, and don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned.”

A good business starts somewhere. For these student entrepreneurs, it all began from their pursuit for their passions, utilizing opportunities, and managing through the hustle as business owners.


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