Business As Usual

Creating level playing field for entrepreneurs

Jennylei Caberte - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Bibingkinitan! owner Richard V. Sanz knows how it is to compete in a robustly growing market that is continuously attracting bigger and better-financed foreign franchise brands.

This gives Sanz the motivation to be at the forefront of efforts of the Philippine Franchise Association to help locally bred franchisers like him thrive while ensuring the growth of the industry.

“It is leveling up our operations and, at the same time, still making the market big enough for all the players, local and foreign,” Sanz said.

This desire is reflected in his works as overall chairman of the Franchise Asia Philippines 2016 slated from July 20 to 24 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City which comes with the theme “Building Inclusive Growth Amidst a Hypercompetitive World” to highlight the need of disruptive strategies and technologies to raise the global competitiveness of Philippine franchising.

“With the new government, whose goal is to build inclusive growth, the goal of the PFA is to promote franchising. If you will look at it, a franchise store is an SME (small and medium enterprise), so we are supporting SMEs as it’s the best way to promote inclusive growth because, when you open a franchise in an area, you are opening a whole world of supply chain in that area, so it contributes to inclusive growth,” he said.

But we also acknowledge intense competition now, many international brands are coming in. These bigger companies have global resources, experience, and we are competing for same shares, so it’s really very competitive now, Sanz pointed out.

Sanz said for the franchise conference, their goal is to have 1,200 attendees. “For the conference, we got more younger speakers because we want to also attract the millennials, younger entrepreneurs and fresh graduates who want to go into entrepreneurship via franchising. We will have speakers from Google, Facebook, Uber, with Senator Bam Aquino serving as keynote speaker. We will have more exciting and fresh speakers, not only in the field of franchising but also in entrepreneurship and marketing.”

One of the highlights of the expo, Sanz added, is the FoodStreet. “It is like an incubation or startup center. You can only join FoodStreet once, after that you should be a regular exhibitor already. So every year the FoodStreet will feature new concepts, because we want to make sure we’ll keep on introducing the newest concepts.”

Sanz, president and CEO of FoodAsia Corp., said he learned and developed his penchant for hard work and perseverance from his mother Betty who single-handedly raised him and his siblings.

A Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering graduate of De La Salle University – Manila, Rich as he’s fondly called by close friends shared he was not born with a silver spoon. He recalls the many nights when he saw his mother finishing one sewing project after another using their old sewing machine, to support them.

His mother’s hard work has inspired him to persevere in life and do his best in his studies. As a young student, he stayed focused on his studies and related activities, guided by the constant reminder from elders that “an idle mind is the playground of the devil.”

The hardships of his mother and the simple life they lived when he was young taught him the value of hard work and frugality with the blessings that come their way.  And these values inspired Rich to come up with unique concepts like Bibingkinitan!, noting that regular bibingkas are often not all consumed and part of them simply go to waste.

He thought that somebody has to make bibingka smaller or bite size. It dawned on him that he could be that person. Thus, he embarked on several taste tests until he arrived at a formulation that his customers agreed with. He thus named it Bibingkinitan! which is the marriage of two words: bibingka and balingkinitan.

The concept proved successful, and Sanz, a hands-on Dad to his four charming kids – Kyla, Kimy, Carinne and Enrique – is reaping the fruits of his creativity and hard work.

In fact, the Department of Tourism (DOT), through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), has officially recognized Bibingkinitan! as the Philippines’ version of cupcake. Under a Memorandum of Agreement inked between Food Asia Corp. and DOT-TPB, Bibingkinitan! products will henceforth be used in the government’s “More Fun in the Philippines” campaign in the country and around the world. The accord in effect signals the offering of food tourism in the country.

Sanz said Bibingkinitan!, with products that are “very local,” is aware of the need to keep on innovating.

“Ever since our competitors are foreign food like donuts, French fries. But it has become more intense now because of the arrival of new concepts like ‘cronuts’ (croissant and donuts), there is always something new coming in and because of social media, once posted, a product trends. And for bibingka, which is a heritage product, we feel the competition, so we really need to keep innovating. Our latest innovation is Bsaymada and Bibingka cheesecake. We need to stay relevant to our customers,” he emphasized.

Bibingkinitan! has also entered the international market, with three stores in Dubai and two new branches set to open in Abu Dhabi in July through master franchise agreements with Arab partners.

Bibingkinitan! localized its offerings with bigger stores selling not just bibingka but also rice buns. About 70 percent of the market is still Filipinos, but Sanz tweaked the marketing to attract foreigners. “We are also in talks with prospective partners in Thailand and Indonesia, both master franchise. The vision of Bibingkinitan! to be a global brand is beginning to materialize, and this is where we are focusing now. On the domestic front, we are still strong, but we are very bullish on our international expansion.”

“Personally, I am an advocate of MSME development because my very own company is proudly 100 percent homegrown, 100 percent Filipino and I passionately believe that Filipino startups and companies can grow to be regional and international sensations and compete successfully side-by-side with foreign companies on an international level and scale,” Sanz said.

“We can see this with how Philippine homegrown concepts like Jollibee, Max’s, Goldilocks are very successful in expanding to other countries. And this is my point — not only the large Filipino companies are successfully expanding internationally — small format stores like Potato Corner, Bibingkinitan, Fruit Magic, Oryspa are operating multiple stores in the US, Middle East and Asia and are on full-expansion mode due to the success of their international models,” Zans says.

For inquiries about Franchise Asia Philippines 2016, visit http://franchiseasiaphl2016.com.ph/ or email [email protected].


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