Co-creation: A new way of doing business

May Dedicatoria - The Philippine Star
Co-creation: A new way of doing business
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — When the threat of COVID-19 started in March last year, one of the top things that bothered ordinary Filipino workers, who rely on public transportation to traverse the metro, was the government’s decision to temporarily stop the ride-hailing firm Angkas to serve its customers.

Angkas has made a big difference the way Filipinos do their daily commute. It provided a fast, affordable and safe means of transportation for traffic-weary Filipinos.

For Angkas co-founder and chief transport advocate George Royeca – also the husband of founder and chief executive officer Angeline Tham – the pandemic was yet another challenge for the company.

“We’ve had a lot of practice over the years. The government had tried to shut us down, I think, three times. This is not just another day in the office, but something that we’re familiar with. We are not completely new to this kind of situation and we’ve always been the type of company that pivots, innovates, and never stops persevering,” he said.

The company then worked with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) very closely and engaged with the University of the Philippines’ College of Public Health to create a set of health protocols that would make riding a motorcycle taxi safer during the pandemic.

“We’ve worked with doctors and nurses and we’ve really created this whole ecosystem of just ideas and dialogues among experts on the motorcycle side, on the government side, as well as the medical community to create a safe form of public transportation during this pandemic,” Royeca said.

TOYM awardee

For spending years in pushing for the rights of motorcycle riders and for being a figurehead of the riding community, Royeca was named one of The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) for 2020.

“This is an award for the 18 million motorcycle riders that are being regarded as second-class citizens while working through the hardships of every day. It’s a struggle being on a motorcycle and these guys are the real heroes,” he said.

Through Angkas, Royeca was able to empower and professionalize 30,000 biker-partners, providing them a decent source of income and livelihood.

“My leadership style is about empowerment,” he said, adding that the riders were also given proper training and motivation.

“They know the role and responsibilities, and collectively, we work together as a team because every accident, every issue, every complaint is actually an accident, issue and complaint against the entire fleet and against the entire industry,” Royeca said.

Empowering the marginalized

Eradicating poverty is no easy feat and may sound cliché, but Royeca is firmly focused on addressing this particular social issue.

“Filipinos want to be educated. They want to take care of their families. They want to be productive citizens. But nobody has or is giving them the chance. We really need to start taking a hard look at that, reflecting on how we can empower millions of Filipinos who want to work,” he said.

In Metro Manila, Angkas has trained and professionalized the ride-hailing industry.

“It’s very hard to change not just the mindset of how people perceive motorcycles, but also the motorcycle bikers themselves,” Royeca said.

“These people don’t have any training. To them, a motorcycle is a symbol of getting out of poverty. It’s the first purchase of every low-income family household. But the system doesn’t give them the proper training,” he said.

This goal is also part of Royeca’s annual “success checkup.” A self-admitted competitive person, he measures his success by competing against himself and annually checking his growth, “whether it’s financial, inner growth, spiritual, health. I check if I’m progressing, if I’m moving. If I’m flat or neutral, then I feel like I’ve taken a step back.”


Lifelong learning

Royeca also advocates lifelong learning. To maintain one’s edge, one should always “become a student,” he said.

“One should continue learning from peers, from employees, from everybody. For me, information is power. And getting the right information at the right time can spell the difference between success and failure and being No. 1,” he said.

“Right now, information is at our fingertips. You can learn any information on YouTube and we can be entrepreneurs in our own right today. You don’t have to wait. A lot of people seem to be frozen in time because of COVID, waiting for the vaccine and waiting for things to get better, but then we should just start living now.”

“You need to co-create with the new normal. The best thing about the pandemic is that no one is an expert on it, so it’s a great equalizer. Create the new normal for you and set the standard. But do it now. Get things done your way, your time in the most efficient and the best possible way, ” Royeca said.

Giving up easily – “whether in an idea, a thought, a campaign, an initiative, an activity” – is what throws him off the most.

“Most things never happen on the first try. You don’t get successful on your first try. Let’s have that spirit of perseverance and grit,” he said.


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