Georgianna Carlos, MyOffice

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“MyOffice started as a leasing company by my mother in 2004. As a teenager I came here during the summer and after school – I was her first receptionist. During a stint working for a PR agency after college, I learned that a lot of people don’t work out of an office but that they still need to rent office space to meet the legal requirements or to have a professional space where to meet their clients. That’s how I got the idea to transform MyOffice from a leasing company into a full-blown virtual office and co-working space catered to mobile entrepreneurs. We help mobile entrepreneurs set up their business and they can use our space if they need it. We have developed an app to ‘bring your office with you’ whenever you go you. Whenever something happens in your office – someone walks in, a client is looking for you, you get a call, etc – you get notified on your dashboard so you can check it from anywhere. For us it’s great to see all these companies grow – while we grow, they also grow. We basically hold their hands for the first few years until they are ready to fly.”
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  • “The biggest challenge for me was to define our big differentiator. There were other co-working spaces, including those that cater to multinational and large corporates, so we had to find a way to differentiate ourselves and find a specific market. We decided to embrace the virtual office space. Our competitors want a huge space and want to fill that out with people. Our priority was looking for the small businesses that don’t need a full-time office, those that travel a lot, or those that are from the provinces but need a space in the Manila CBD when they have clients. Instead of competing for the same market, we looked for different target groups and we found out about their needs.”
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  • “When I started, I was really conscious about my competitors and it took me a while to learn to step back and not to worry about them too much. I realized that those that sign up with us do so because they are comfortable with our particular style and culture and value proposition. You might have similar services but how you execute them makes a difference. Another lesson I have learned is not to be afraid to evolve and to scrap ideas if they are not working. Sometimes you get really excited about something and you think that everyone needs it but then it turns out the market won’t buy it because they don’t feel they need it yet. I was really keen on doing google hangouts for our mobile entrepreneurs because I thought it would be a great way for them to network and connect. But they were either busy traveling or too busy on their startups or focused on other things so it didn’t work out and we had put that idea aside for now.”
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“The entrepreneurial spirit in the Philippines is quite young. Most graduate still want to work for large companies, often due to parental pressure, but things are changing. Now you find more fresh graduates that are looking to either join startups or set up their own businesses. The startup community is very open and collaborative so you can always go and ask other people for advice and that helps a lot. I mentor some of the students in the accelerator program at Ateneo. Many of them set up enterprises while in the program but then they don’t follow through so I thought I could provide some advice on how to go from studentpreneurs to full-time entrepreneurs, since helping small businesses grow is what I do anyways.”
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  • “Some of the best advice I have ever received is ‘make sure you are earning money’, from a Silicon Valley investor that I met at an event. The idea is that if you are not earning money, it means that your service is not giving value to people. If they are not willing to pay for that, it’s a useless endeavor. And how can you be an entrepreneur wanting to change the world if you can’t even feed yourself? I decided to rephrase it to ‘make sure you are adding value to your market’.”
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“My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be ‘Don’t give up and don’t be easily disheartened’. A lot of people give up once they go through a few roadblocks and decide entrepreneurship is not for them. Building a business will take time and lots of trail and error, and in some industries you might start earning money only after a year or two. Also, don’t be afraid to start young. Many want to finish college and get some work experience before starting their own business but it often drags on and then never happens. Don’t be afraid to start young. The startup community is new but there are a number of investors interested to back new companies with good ideas. If you look hard enough, there will be options. Sometimes money is surprisingly the easiest thing to find.”

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