Coming from a quiet holy week and Easter celebration always gives me a feeling of renewed hope. A spiritual renewal also makes me recharged and encouraged to go back quickly to work to pursue our goals and purpose here on earth. As an entrepreneurship advocate, I am happy to see fellow entrepreneurs celebrate milestones in their journey, either in opening new branches, or more so in launching a new business, or in celebrating corporate anniversaries. We join them in celebrating success!
Very recently, we celebrated with one of the very first Go Negosyo entrepreneur advocates Johnlu Koa and wife Marilou the launching of their new business concept at the heart of Bonifacio Global City, in front of Market Market.
Being a guru in marketing at the UP School of Business, he put his knowhow into practice. Johnlu loves to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs being a professor for a number of years and shares with them how he became a successful entrepreneur. From being a professor, he ventured into entrepreneurship, studied food retailing operation and baking in France and opened French Baker. Fast forward to the present, French Baker has grown to more than 50 branches and present almost nationwide as he is present in key cities where SMs are. Now the expert in or shall I say the “Father of French Baked Goods Retailing in the Philippines”, Johnlu didn’t stop in innovating further his business.
Recently, aside from acquiring the master franchise for Chatime which has more than 30 branches and still growing, Johnlu opened Lartizan – offering French fine dining, famous pastries and a wide range of artisanal breads.
Johnlu said that now that the Filipinos have been introduced to French baked goods, it is a good time to level up and introduce the higher-end and more creative French baked variants and offer it in a nicer ambience. Thus he thought of opening Lartizan at the BGC.
Lartizan, is a higher end version of his popular French Baker. I credit Johnlu for popularizing French breads and pastries to the Filipinos. He was a game changer when he saw the opportunity way back in the 80’s when he opened his very first French Baker store in the then new SM North EDSA. Back then, few Filipinos would crave, or probably even know what a French bread or Croissant is. It is even hard to spell and pronounce. Johnlu then saw the opportunity that those kinds of breads are not much known in the country.
His special guest was our very inspiring Senator Grace Poe, who was also our Keynote speaker in our last Women Negosyo Summit. Johnlu’s mother was also there together with another entrepreneur advocate Senator Sonny Angara and wife Elvira, and his father former Senator Ed Angara.
As a sidenote, Johnlu confided with me how the brand name Lartizan evolved. He originally intended to make it L’Artizan to connote more creativity and passion that go with the products. But, as in the rules of branding, he made it more simple and easier to spell and pronounce, thus calling it simply Lartizan. Congratulations to Johnlu and Marilou, you are truly game changers. I believe this is another big hit in the making.
I remember in that same night, we proceeded to attend the 10th Anniversary celebration of another Go Negosyo advocate Richard Sanz. Like Johnlu, Richard has been joining Go Negosyo activities since our beginnings in 2005.
We witnessed over the years how Richard’s company Food Asia has continued to grow. He started his business at the age of 23 and put up Bibingkinitan in 2006 offering smaller version of the traditional bibingka with variety of flavours to choose from.
From his first branch of the now- famous Bibingkinitan, it has grown to more than 200 branches nationwide. An entrepreneur at heart, the former IT employee Richard, opened his next food retail concept Bar-B-King, which specializes in grilled in barbecue food items. He opened up this concept just a few years ago and now has started to expand in quite a number of branches.
Last year, he ventured into a new concept also on baked goods, and he branded his new store as OVN. He had his first branch also in SM. We are fortunate to see SM supporting the growth and expansion of many SMEs in the country. As Richard celebrates his 10th year in business in line with the 10 milestones that his company achieved, Richard has gone a long way in growing his business.
He has also received many awards along the way, but I am amazed how Richard and even Johnlu have remained very passionate in their negosyos, goal-oriented, clear vision of where to take their businesses, staying positive and always looking at the next big opportunity; Yet they stay humble and always committed to helping and mentoring other aspiring entrepreneurs in many Go Negosyo Summits and seminars.
To me, they are good role models for entrepreneurs to follow. Congratulations also to Richard and his team and wishing you great years ahead.
Be inspired to take the first step in establishing your own business and know the fundamentals of starting an enterprise through the Go Negosyo’s NEGOSEM NEGOSYO BASICS. We will be holding a one-day negosyo seminar on April 25 (Friday) from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the RFM Auditorium. For more details, get in touch with us through: Phone (02) 637-9229/ 02 637-9347; Mobile 0999 7872082; Website: www.gonegosyo.net