Latest Stories

Your New Year challenge: Become an entrepreneur

‘You get to learn much, experience new things and meet many people. You are able to buy or pay for a lot of things’


MELANY Sy runs Gifts and Goodies and Custom Tees PH. PHOTO BY KENNETH CHAN BONA

The New Year is a season of resolutions and seeking new opportunities. Perhaps you may be one of the people looking to do something new this year. Why not try starting a business? Yes, no matter how young you are!

Being young, we think we might not have the capabilities for success. Business may also seem risky, and irrelevant to our interests. To disprove these myths, there are stories of successful entrepreneurs so young, they could have been your classmate or friend in college.

We can start a business with something that’s very much part of us. Back then, Micah Valero was getting bored in class. To pass the time, she started toying around with paper, clay and pens, creating little anime character chibis. Her friends saw her creations,  and asked her to create their desired characters.

MICAH Valero started Keybie Café in college; now she sells online and in cosplay or toy conventions. PHOTO BY KENNETH CHAN BONA

In time, she perfected the craft, creating full-colored “keybies” of different characters. Her college organization, Malate Literary Folio, asked her to sell them for the school fair. I remember seeing them for the first time and saying, “How cute! And look, all my favorite cartoon characters are here!”

Later, she tried to sell the keybies in cosplay and toy conventions. They were a huge hit! Today she runs Keybie Café, which now also sells keybies online and accepts customized orders.

Good hobby

Melany Sy is also a young entrepreneur, and currently studying in De La Salle University. She was searching for a good hobby. An idea came from a friend’s mother, who was preparing souvenirs and said that corporate giveaways would be a great business venture. She jumped at the idea and established Gifts and Goodies, which showcases corporate giveaway products online, fully customizable to suit the client. Today, along a similar thread, she also runs Custom TeesPH, which is into customized shirts with printing and embroidering options.

CUTE and colorful.Micah designs the keybie characters herself. She also accepts customized orders. PHOTO BY KENNETH CHAN BONA

Melany shares her point of view on entrepreneurship’s many advantages, “You get to learn much, experience new things and meet many people. You are able to buy or pay for a lot of things. I am able to lessen the load on my parents in sending me to college and for paying for other necessities.”

Micah cites the freedom of having one’s own business. “You can dictate your own schedule and create timetables to suit your needs. You also have the choice to work at home. When I wake up, all I have to do is go downstairs and go to my personal work area.”

Micah offers some words of caution, though: “Having this setup requires loads of discipline. Being your own boss means you could easily make excuses for poorly using your time. On the flip side, you could also end up overworking because your workplace is at home and there’s no escaping it.”


Micah talks about the foundational steps. “It’s important to have an idea of what you’re going into and what your goals are. These would set what you need to research on to start the actual business. You would need to study the product and the market you cater to. Going blind into a business means a bigger chance of failing and losing money.”

Melany talks about the bottleneck, “I believe that starting a business is the most difficult part. You need to think about the business’ mission, vision, specialty, target market and many other things. You have to do extensive research about your desired products and your competitors’. You then need to contact various suppliers to provide everything the business would need.”


On growing the business, Micah gives the following strategy: “You need to know how to expand your market, and get the resources needed to keep up with the growing demand that comes with expansion. If you want to use social media to reach people, you should be capable of putting out eye-catching content. You wouldn’t want to spam people and turn them off. You should make a good impression and keep them interested in your business.”

On maintaining the business, Micah shares advice that gives a glimpse of her experiences: “You have to keep yourself disciplined with being on top of the orders and the accounting. Stagnating can run you the risk of being outdated, so you have to keep up with the wants of your target market. You also have to be patient, even when some things make you want to scream into a pillow.”

Even though entrepreneurship has its pains, it also has a lot of blessings.  “Back then, I had a customer who was still a kid,” Melany says. “A few years later, he came back a bit grown-up, and he was still buying my stuff. Another customer was so happy with the keybies, she created matching keybie houses for them. The money that I got from the business can be good. But the fulfillment it gave me to see my customers happy was pretty darn good.”

When asked whether we can be entrepreneurs while young, Melany says, “Having vision, passion and determination are the most important things. One should not be barred by his or her age when he or she dreams about becoming an entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter whether a person is outgoing or shy, but whether he or she can put his or her foot forward in achieving his or her dreams. Aspiring entrepreneurs just need to go out of their own comfort zones and do their best in everything.”

Entrepreneurship is a worthy challenge that reaps great rewards. Consider making it your new year challenge. Happy New Year!

Keybie Café



Gifts and Goodies


Custom Tees PH


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Business , Entrepreneurship , Lifestyle , New Year

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VUFRGRCCA5JXOLKEVCJQ3FBW3Y Concerned Citizen

    This is the correct mindset.   If one wishes to be rich, he or she should enter the business world..  Success does not come easy as in any endeavor though.  Entrepreneurship should also be taught in government to change the corruption mindset.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. This is not just a farm
  4. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  7. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors


  • DOH asks co-passengers of OFW carrier to test for MERS-CoV
  • 5.5-magnitude quake hits Sultan Kudarat
  • Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  • Firetruck rams California eatery; 15 injured
  • Heavy traffic reported on NLEx, SLEx
  • Sports

  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • Business

  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • Technology

  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest