Started with zero capital: This couple turned their romantic date idea into a profitable business

Started with zero capital: This couple turned their romantic date idea into a profitable business

SME Inspirations

Airamae Guerrero

Airamae Guerrero

15 Feb 2021, 17:14 — 6 min read

Owning a business was never part of Nina Abainza’s plan. But when the opportunity came knocking while she and her then boyfriend were on a romantic date, they did not brush off the idea, but instead turned it into a viable business. The couple loved going out to eat a meal together and that's why her then boyfriend and now husband suggested that they build a business around their common interest — food. This is how Chophouse was born. Chophouse offers quality processed meat that uses authentic recipes and natural ingredients, backed by extensive research and development.


Starting from nothing

The couple started reselling processed meat products with zero capital through consignment. “Our supplier that time was a former client and a close friend of my husband. Because of the good relationship, we were able to start a business without a capital,” Nina shares in an interview with UnionBank GlobalLinker.


Their initial goal was to only use the profit for their romantic dates. “After selling our products in bazaars, we would separate the capital and our profit. Then we used the profit to hang out or watch a movie together.”


The couple continued their romantic dates in the guise of participating in different bazaars to resell their products, and their profit grew which was more than enough to game up their business. “When it came to a point that we were earning beyond our expectation, I told my husband to save the profit and use it for investment,” Nina shares, acknowledging that their properties including their house was the fruit of Chophouse.


Challenges

As their business grew, so did the challenges. When the price from their supplier became too high, they saw it as an opportunity to build their own brand. “We studied (how to make our products). We received a lot of help from the local and national government like DOST (Department of Science and Technology) and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry).”


By attending trainings and undergoing mentorship, they were able to set up a factory and learned the ins and outs of manufacturing. This paved the way for them to conduct research and development to produce and create other items like bacon Lucban-style and garlic chicken longganisa.

 Chophouse products


Nina does not shy away from sharing the struggles in growing their business. She shares three major challenges that they face: collection, right market, and manpower. She believes that a business owner must find a way to keep the cash flow running especially when clients’ payments get delayed. This is where bank or non-banking institutions can play a role to help business owners keep the ball rolling for the business.


Also read: Are you looking to pay your employees and vendors to get back on track?


In terms of market, Nina advises business owners to find the right market that will pay the price that they set.  “If you lower your price just to get customers, you will suffer losses, so it’s important that you find the right customers for your business.”


Navigating the new normal

Like many other businesses, Chophouse too was not exempted from the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I don’t have a choice but to head on," Nina firmly states.  Because of the skeletal workforce imposed during the lockdown, they have had to manage their production strategically. Instead of retrenching, Nina continued to provide free lodging for her staff.


“When restrictions were reduced, we tried to operate despite limitations and were able to provide opportunities to delivery riders. We tried our best to continue the payroll of our staff. We also tried to keep our prices as affordable as possible despite the rising cost of raw materials.”


Boosting online presence

With the new normal, Nina has had to find new channels and leverage digital opportunities for her business. She set up her own online store through GlobalLinker's eCommerce platform - Linker.store, to strengthen her online presence and maximize online traffic for their products.


“Because of the pandemic, my online store has grown. GlobalLinker is a big help because we now have an online presence which was so limited before,” Nina shares, revealing that she will continue to leverage her online store to boost sales.


Moving forward

While navigating the new normal, Nina believes that it’s time for them to rethink their systems and strategies as to how they can further streamline and optimize their business.


There’s no sign of slowing down for Nina. When asked what keeps her going despite the many challenges, she shares: “There is so much counting on us in the business which is more than enough reason to still go on.”


To get to know more about Nina’s products, you can visit her online store at chophouse.linker.store

 

Also read: Create your own online store on UnionBank GlobalLinker for free


To explore business opportunities, link with Nina Abainza by clicking on the 'Connect' button on her profile.


Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the members

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Airamae Algentera Guerrero

I shine the spotlight on business owners who are doing exciting and innovative work by featuring them as part of our 'SME Inspirations' series. Connect with me and share...

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