MyHelpster’s adventure in the Philippines
By Bjoern Wind On November 10, 2014
It is Monday and it was time to turn this trip into a proper business trip, as this was the main purpose of my journey. Waiting for Klaus to pick me up I was running nervously back and forth in my apartment. Something really smelled bad and I could neither distinguish root nor type of the smell, but something smelled really bad.
Anyways Klaus gave me a ring telling me that he will be arriving shorty. So, no time to think about this non-sense and instead it was time to make some real business as the previous days were mainly coined by private adventures with Klaus and friends but not really contributing the main aim of this trip: seeing the contact industry, meet viable partners and so on.
Anyways, stepping in the car Klaus told me that it was “national day” – a strict non-working day. Something he had not really considered in this plans and he just realized yesterday evening calling his business partners who were usually for a spontaneous meetings available (it is typical Fillipino to schedule meetings shortly in advance – everything else does not make any sense as people will forget about it or ignore it if you plan to much in advance). Anyways instead of the supposed business day this should be again a day mainly for private joy. Actually thinking about the fact how I should explain this Felix as I was the one who convinced him about the importance and value of the trip, Klaus told me that we were going to meet Tonio. A long friend from Klaus back in the days, who was the owner and president of a large Architectural support firm called Equinett Support. Tonio told me later, that Equinet Supports business was mainly based on outsourcing architectural works, which were again mainly focused on the graphification of building plans in 3D.
We arrived at Startbucks and were waiting for Tonio and his driver to pick us up. Waiting at Starbucks a man came up to us and introduced himself as good friend of Tonio and Governour of the region Zubbich which we wanted to visit today (the reason for that kept unclear). Shortly later Tonio arrived as well and we started our two hour ride to Zubbich.
Arriving at Zubich I was still wondered why we came here. Zubbich with all respect was an ugly city. It was an old US Navi ship base and seemed as nothing changed since the Americans left the city 15 years ago, besides the fact that everything became rustier. Tonio’s friend started talking proudly about the region and its current but especially future economical potential. In this context he told us that the region employed roughly one hundred thousand people, mainly in ship building. But with many local universities, lower living costs compared to Manila and a youth culture that values the family life in the country side, MyHelpster would find here many advantages.
Telling all this I wondered if he implicitly wanted to tell me that Zubbich is the right place for MyHelpster’s back office. But to be honest, I could not imagine, seeing MyHelpster in this area where old ships were restored and everything seemed to have stopped in time when compared to Manila. I was not even sure if they had Internet in this region. Anyways, both of them were really nice and before heading to dinner, Tonio’s friend brought us to one of his “baby’s in the region”. A new yacht manufacturer which was specialized on the restauration of old Yachts. Well yeah, and what we saw was really impressive. A funny dude called Bob who owned the ship workshop showed us his latest rebuild baby. It was an old North Sea fisher boat with a length of around 35 meters, which was rebuild into an high-end luxury Yacht and now worth more than 12 million US-Dollar.
After our excursion, we ate lunch with Tonio and he started to ask me about the purpose of my journey and I told him about MyHelpster how we plan to make the life of millions of Microsoft Office users easier through friendlier and fairer support. I told him from MyHelpster for about two minutes and this was enough for him saying me that he could maybe imagine to partner with us one day. We further discussed over lunch different ways how we could work together.
As Tonio’s friend left us we went back to the car and drove to Baataan, a city which is in the region of Zubbich and about a two hour drive from Manila. Baatan is also a former US military base and has been inactive for about 15 years as well. The local government had just recently turned the base into an official economic zone for companies to explore. Tonio had acquired some property and buildings in the zone and was so far the only business around. Asking him about the reason, to move a second branch out here away from Manila, he told me that he had a great cooperation with the local University. More precisely what Tonio did here, was to acquire talented students from the University, to give them a three month training to make them fit for the work required at Equinet. After the course he hired the ones who passed the final test and gave them a job in his new branch here in Baataan. The advantages of Bataan was that his students and employees could make use of the variety of free time activities. Because it was a former US military base, there were basketball, soccer and tennis fields, and his team even used the pool, which all gave them a good balance to the course and work. Additionally, as a result of the partnership with the local university, Tonio always found many talented people who were interested in the IT and service industry and don’t to work for the shipbuilding companies.
Tonio then further clarified what his friend already mentioned during lunch, that he could imagine to partner and help MyHelpster and that he would like to extend and rebuild this area together with MyHelpster. He explained to me that we could acquire many very talented students right from university and that we could create with a low investment fantastic working condition and surrounding with many free time activities. I got very excited about the idea and could see parallels to Google Campuses, where all kinds of free activities are offered to their employees and where in return teams deliver exceptional good work with famous results. Having this innovative and fully new idea burned in my mind, we started our way back to Manila.
On the way back we got again stuck in a terrible traffic jam which gave us enough time to further elaborate and talk about a potential partnership in Baataan. With this concept in mind we agreed on a second meeting on Thursday where I was supposed to meet Tonios business partner. Meanwhile, I had some time to back-channel with Felix about all this.
Tired from a long day I arrived at my Condo and just wanted to sleep but entering my apartment I almost feel over. I had left off the air-conditioning and the smell from this morning had filled my whole room. In a panic and with almost no breath left, I searched for the cause of the smell. It was the fruit which I bought on Saturday and left in the fridge. Within this short period of time, the smell of the fruit had changed dramatically. When I told Klaus the story the next day, he started laughing and giggling, telling me that this is the normal smell of the fruit when it gets to its best state – but usually nobody can take it that long and just eats it right away.