Having a business in the Philippines can be quite… well… fun. They say it’s more fun in the Philippines, after all.
Feyma and I started our first business in the Philippines sometime in 2000, within our first year of arriving here. It was all sort of done by accident.
The business I am talking about is WowPhilippines, a service where we deliver gifts to people in the Philippines.
Started by accident?
Yes, as I said, the business was started by accident, really. You see, I had a website which was a site all about General Santos City, where we were living at the time. I actually started the site about 5 years before we moved here, and it was adopted by the City as the official Website of the City. They even passed a law proclaiming it as such. Anyway, the site was fairly popular and attracted a good number of visitors. One day, somebody contacted me through the site and told me this:
Thank you for your website, I like learning about General Santos City, as I have never been there.
I have a girlfriend in General Santos, though, and I do plan to come and visit someday.
I wonder if you could do me a favor? I want to send my girl some flowers, but I can’t find any florist in the City. Can you give me the e-mail address of a florist in General Santos?
Well, I started looking into this and I found that there was no florist in town who was able or willing to deal with an order from overseas. The biggest catch was that none of them were able to take a credit card payment. Also, no local florist had a website!
I wrote back to Steve and told him this:
Thanks for writing. I have checked around town and unfortunately there are no florists who have a website. The biggest problem, though, is that no florist in town will take a credit card payment either!
I don’t know of any way that you would be able to order flowers for your girlfriend. Sorry!
Well, fortunately, Steve would not take no for an answer! He wrote back and asked me if I could get the flowers for him and deliver it to his girlfriend! I thought about it and could not think of any downside to doing it, so I wrote back and told him I would do it. I asked if he could just send me the money via PayPal, and he agreed. The flowers were quite inexpensive, so I added some money to it to cover my time and expenses for doing the purchase and the delivery. Steve was quite happy with the price, so everything was good.
The next day, I went to the florist and bought the flowers. I got the color and style of arrangement that Steve told me he wanted. Next, Feyma and I set out to find the girl’s house. When we found her, there I was carrying a bouquet of flowers and looking for a certain girl in the neighborhood. Quickly, people started thinking that I was the girl’s boyfriend! When I found the girl and she saw that there was a foreigner standing there with flowers for her, she looked at me, and said.. “Steve? Is that you?”
I had a laugh, and told her that I was not Steve, but rather Steve had contacted me through the Internet and asked me to deliver these flowers to her for him! She was so excited and happy! We had some pictures together with her holding her flowers, and I e-mailed the pictures to Steve, so that he could see the smile on her face!
Well, Steve was very happy with how this all worked out, and he started asking me to deliver other types of products to her, things like food, candy and such, which I did. Over the next 6 months or so, I was hearing from other people asking me to do similar things too, and not only in General Santos, but to other parts of Mindanao. As I thought about it, I decided that I could expand this service out to cover the entire Philippines!
That is how WowPhilippines was born! A simple start, but an answer to demands that I was getting. Over the years it has been a good business for Feyma and I. Our number one priority has always been to make people happy – both the customer and the gift recipient! We certainly have brought a lot of smiles to people’s faces over the years!
Nice to think back on how we got started!