As school season approaches, I decided to feature three young entrepreneurs for this Tagumpay column.

I am a parent with two of my children in college. One is about to finish. I am glad that many schools have started to integrate entrepreneurship into the business management programs and others school programs. Even in high school, the Department of Education has been encouraging entrepreneurship subjects. DepEd have also been encouraging students to participate in many of our Go Negosyo events all over the country.

The level of awareness of being an entrepreneur as an alternative to being employed has increased since our advocacy started. Our books continue to be bestsellers, which are admired by many young people who want to be entrepreneurs.

I, myself, want my kids to start their own businesses and not work for RFM Corporation. I do not want my Sunday family gathering to become a management meeting, which I see happening in many family-run businesses.

I also do not encourage fresh graduates to immediately start a business without the proper business plan and concept that will have a differentiation in the market. For those who want to start at a young age, a mentor is also a must. Be patient. Focus on your skill level. Don’t venture into something that you do not know. But, provided you have the big idea and you have the skill to convert that big idea to a business and you are properly guided by mentors, then, go for it.

These are three stories of young entrepreneurs who all converted their big ideas into their own businesses. Be inspired and learn from them.

Alvin Tan grew up in a conventional Chinese family. His father managed their family businesses and used to take him to meetings and let him observe how things were done. His dad is his negosyo idol. “I look up to my Dad because of his values in business. He taught me ‘money is something superficial and the most important thing is the relationships built around you.’ I have a high regard for his determination and how he overcomes trials,” Alvin shares.

Alvin Tan

Alvin Tan

Fresh out of college, Alvin started his own IT-based company along with other young professionals. Today, at the age of 26, Alvin is not only his own boss but also the boss of his employees. Technominds, which he now runs as company President and CEO, is a provider of SMS solutions, database management, and web applications. His company even created a system wherein a person with a mobile phone can already start an e-loading business and earn 10-12% profit, for a minimum investment of Php100.

Being young sometimes has its disadvantages. “Trust becomes an issue. Clients ask if you can do the job or if you have enough background or experience. The only solution is to earn their trust. This becomes your motivation,” said Alvin.

Aside from being recognized as the first Nokia Mobile Entrepreneur of the Year last 2008, Alvin was also awarded as one of the 2009 Go Negosyo Most Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs. With his achievements in business at an early age, Alvin still keeps on fueling his flame. “I’m still young. I know I have a lot of things to learn,” he said.

Alvin is also no stranger to the concept of giving back. Apart from his active involvement in Go Negosyo, he has also started his own advocacy of helping micro entrepreneurs. He is now introducing livelihood projects and programs, through his partnerships with local government units and cooperatives. This is one of the many things to admire about this young man.

Alvin’s advise to aspiring young entrepreneurs? “Stay humble, whatever achievements you gain. Always make it a point to learn something from every experience. When problems come your way, always come up with a solution.”

Benedict Carandang

When 17-year old Benedict Carandang was a Rotary Youth exchange student in the US, he filled up a sweepstake for a promo of the animated movie “A Bug’s Life”. Out of all the entries, Benedict won an all-expense paid trip to San Francisco to have a tour of Pixar Animation Studios, presently one of the most highly regarded animation studios in the world. He discovered that there were many talented Filipino animators working for Pixar.

Seven years later, Benedict started a local animation studio — Tuldok Animation Studios. He started this endeavor with friends, who were creative artists. Benedict was the entrepreneur among them. They had different fields of expertise, but they all share the same dream: “to make the world realize the artistic and creative talent of the Filipino in the field of animation.”

Now, at 27 years old, Benedict’s goal through Tuldok Animation is to uplift the Philippine creative industry. “If we say Pinoy Animation, Filipinos would think that it’s not that impressive or not that good enough. A lot of companies abroad outsource animation content from our country through BPOs. The truth is, Filipinos are super creative, but they lack an entrepreneurial push.”

According to Benedict, artistically creative individuals who lack the entrepreneurial creativity must either work for it or partner with entrepreneurial people. “Hanapin mo sa iba yung wala ka and focus on your own strength. It would be better, if not best, to work with people who are good in their own craft.”

Benedict is also a recipient of the United Kingdom’s British Council 2008 Young Screen Entrepreneur award. Like Alvin, we have also recognized him as one of the Most Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs.

His advice to aspiring young entrepreneurs: “Find your key strengths and combine it with the strengths of your fellow Filipinos. Join forces to create businesses that will cater to the different needs of our country and the world. We have competitive advantages that we can offer the world because of our innate artistic talent and creativity.”

Another young entrepreneur to admire is fashion designer Veejay Floresca.

When he was 16, Veejay’s father was killed while working on a case as a lawyer. “Life went down,” he said. His mother was forced to work as a street vendor and his three siblings also made sacrifices.

Veejay Floresca

Veejay Floresca

Despite the tragedy, Veejay entered the College of Saint Benilde – School of Design and Arts as a working student. He was able to maintain a full scholarship and finished as Cum Laude with a degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising.

Veejay’s first step was to work as a head designer in a friend’s shop, which became his training ground. After a year, he put up his own shop in his apartment and converted his sala as his receiving area. With this, Veejay served as the breadwinner in the family. He was able to put his sister through school. His savings moved his family to a better place.

Because of his passion for fashion, unique and undeniable skills and natural talent, Veejay has been recognized as an icon in his industry. While some remember his stint as a finalist in the reality show Project Runway Philippines, he was also recognized as one of the 25 Best Fashion Designers of the Philippines by Mega Magazine last 2007. We also awarded him as one of our Most Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs, with Alvin and Benedict.

With his recognitions, growing number of clients and rising reputation, Veejay does not fail to be thankful for all the opportunities and blessings. He considers them “priceless”. As a way of giving back, he reaches out and teaches other aspiring young fashion designers who would like to convert their creativity into works of art and into entrepreneurial opportunities. “It’s a blessing to share what I have learned,” said Veejay.

At 25 years old, Veejay keeps on adding to his long list of things that he would want to accomplish. His future plans include finishing a Masters in Fashion in New York or London before reaching 30.

“Enjoy youth at the same time do something with your life,” says Veejay. “Always have a direction in life. Dream, have a goal and do something to reach it.”