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Read this in The Manila Times digital edition. Along with friends, the business owner flew…

Along with friends, the business owner flew the coop during the financial crunch and launched a restaurant to make things happen


Von Aristotle Evangelista Rosales Co-founder and President Poiyo Chicken

“…it’s very challenging to find balance because anything can happen at any time. We just rest when we’re tired, get back up when we fall, and hustle while we’re awake.”

Von Aristotle Evangelista Rosales Co-founder and President Poiyo Chicken

Von Aristotle Evangelista Rosales Co-founder and President Poiyo Chicken

THE economic impact of the pandemic has pushed many people out of their comfort zones. In a bid to overcome financial challenges that came with the uncertainty of the situation, some of those earning from a 9-to-5 job had to look for new income streams. Von Aristotle Evangelista Rosales was one of those who launched a business during this financial crunch.

“The pandemic was a real game-changer for us,” Von shares. “One day, over dinner, my friends and I talked about how our income decreased due to fewer hours and even forced leaves at work, and how quickly our savings are getting depleted. That’s when we realized that it was time to make something happen.”

The four childhood friends started Poiyo Chicken in July 2021, with a goal to find success as business owners who offer something unique and delicious to the market. “We met up almost every day to brainstorm and try out different recipes. We wanted to bring a little bit of Asian fusion to our products, so we tried to incorporate flavors from Korea, Singapore and Taiwan in our menu.”

Their finished products included fried chicken cutlets inspired by the Taiwanese street food called Ji Pai and a Korean-style batter for their Whole Fried Chicken set and which comes with Singaporean-style toppings that use cereals and curry leaves for flavor and aroma. Von promises that their fried chicken retains its crispiness and juiciness even if the customer lives three hours away from their kitchen, which is based in Muntinlupa.

Support group

He says that while launching their brand was fun at the beginning, the partners soon started to hit a few roadblocks. “None of us were really good at marketing and while we started strong with the support of close friends and family, we soon realized the limits of our network and our sales started to decrease. There were times when we didn’t have a single sale for an entire week. We also had challenges on how to reduce the time of preparation and ensure the consistency of our product.”

It was crunch time, so to speak, and the friends decided to address the challenges head-on. They engaged a consultant to help them with their marketing efforts, and they also invested time and effort in studying how to market their product using Facebook Ads. “There are tons of tutorials out there on YouTube, and it is all really a matter of sitting down and absorbing the information until it is clear. Because of that effort, we are now able to create our own ads and we get a lot of engagements.”

It helped that they had all known each other for a long time, he adds, and that each partner had something to bring to the table. “Our friendship is a base for respect, trust and transparency. We all come from different backgrounds and the great thing about it is the diversity of ideas that come to the table. We are very supportive of each other and having a common vision is what drives us.”

Von with his friends and
partners Charles Realuyo, Dashid
Erpe and Miguel Paolo Martelino. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Von with his friends and
partners Charles Realuyo, Dashid
Erpe and Miguel Paolo Martelino. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Airline pilot Charles Realuyo is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management. Von credits him with attention to detail and the ability to assess different challenges and ability to communicate his point of view effectively. Dashid Erpe, also an airline pilot and a business administration graduate, focuses on enhancing customer experience. Miguel Paolo Martelino, a hotel, restaurant and institution management graduate majored in culinary arts, developed the menu, and oversees kitchen management, quality control and R&D sessions.

For his part, Von is a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurial Management graduate from the Asia Pacific College who worked overseas as a sales manager for a retail brand in Madrid, Spain. His experience in retail and in his current role as a bilingual senior specialist for quality assurance at BPO company Ocwen Business Solutions Inc. contribute to areas such as customer service and training.

Entrepreneurial ideals

There are entrepreneurs in Von’s family, and they inspired him to dream of putting up his own business. “Actually, when I was a child, I wanted to own and run my own farm where I would raise different kinds of animals and grow fruits and vegetables. In school, I was not very entrepreneurial, but I was really into trading Pokemon cards,” he smiles.

It is his mother Natalia Rosales Dia and aunt Let Rosales who are business-minded, he says. “They both started from scratch, but they have accomplished so much already in their business. What inspires me about them is their passion, resourcefulness and confidence. They also had their fair share of challenges and failures just like everyone, but they always believed in what they wanted to accomplish, and they always found a way no matter what. That’s how I learned that if you put your mind, time and heart into something, you can accomplish anything.

Now 33 years old, Von has been working in the corporate industry for almost 12 years but has always envisioned being a successful businessman with many lines of business. He currently balances his time between his desk work and Poiyo. “To be honest, it’s very challenging to find balance because anything can happen at any time. We just rest when we’re tired, get back up when we fall, and hustle while we’re awake,” he says.

For Von, there is no perfect or right moment in life to start a business. “We just have to create that moment by starting it and working toward making it perfect.” He adds that their short-term goal is to scale up operations and set up shop in a more professional kitchen. “As of now, we are working out of a small kitchen with a few dedicated employees to help us with daily operations. If you look at our kitchen now, it is a far cry from the typical industrial kitchen used by professionals in the industry. It’s small and some of the equipment we use are probably best suited for household use. But we all start from somewhere. What really keeps us going is the support and good feedback that we get from our customers that have tried our food. From that alone, we know we are doing something worthwhile.”

He hopes that they can have more branches across the country. “We want to provide career opportunities for different people and just continue to build from there. There have been offers for franchising already, but for the meantime, we’ll just take things one step at a time.”

ABOUT ME

Role model

My dad, who already passed away. I came home from Spain to be with him when he became sick. He was very smart, always compassionate, and a lot of people looked up to him. He valued his peers and was always respectful.

Life goals

Besides making Poiyo Chicken a top choice for consumers, I want to be able to create more opportunities for people. I think there is true value in that.

First paying job

During my college days, I had a summer job serving tables at an establishment along the Manila Baywalk.

Morning ritual

I prepare my coffee and have a piece of bread while reviewing Poiyo’s social media pages and reviewing the performances of our ads.

Special skills

I don’t know if this can be considered a special skill, but I’ve always been resourceful and patient in learning new things. I am always hungry to learn something new.

Time on social media

Given that we operate through our social media channels, I would say I check on it every chance I get all throughout the day. I also check other competitors and what type of artworks they are using and try to incorporate their techniques into our business.

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