JOAQUIN. Photo by  Josa Camille A. BassigA YOUNG Thomasian is helping bring back sweet childhood memories by joining a fellow alumnus in the business of re-introducing one of the classic Filipino street treats in a neater fashion.

Jigo Joaquin, who earned his degree in Political Science in 2009, joined Tourism graduate Marlon Sevilla as Icebreaker Scrambles was soaring in the summer of 2010. Now a business partner and branch owner, he is reaping the fruits of his entrepreneurial labors at 22 years old.

But armed with youth and innate business-mindedness, Joaquin is still aiming for more.

Sweet beginning

Icebreaker Scrambles, which began as a small food cart business owned by Sevilla and his wife, prides itself as the sellers of the “first and original commercialized and sanitized” ice scramble in the country.

The enterprise began in Malabon, where the Sevillas were based, selling “halo-halo” and cereal-topped ice treats back in 2008. Through one of the financial low points of the endeavor came the idea of producing its current product.

“It honestly came as a spark of the moment, which was influenced by the declining sales of the original halo-halo product of Icebreaker,” Joaquin said.

The company now has 55 operational branches and is pushing for 75 by the end of the year. Joaquin has two, and is still waiting for award notices for four more branches. He has a pending application for a space at the UST Carpark.

Before joining his friend, Joaquin had been thinking of putting up a fried noodles franchise business in Greenhills, an idea which led him to take a leave of absence from law school.

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His initial capital came from his savings during his senior year in UST and from graduation gifts. He began with his fondness for videogames and sold them online, which tripled his money. He then put up a gift item store in Greenhills, which lasted from November 2009 to January 2010, where he grew his college savings by almost seven times.

Bonuses and lessons

For Joaquin, the decision to handle his own business came easy because he finds himself efficient “without the bureaucratic hassles.”

“Since high school, I did not see myself working for somebody else in an office. I have my own way of doing things and I’m not comfortable in a hierarchy-based institution,” he said.

The decision came with perks that most people his age are still aiming to get.

“Having my own business means I won’t have to rely on my parents financially, plus I’ve learned how to handle and save my own money,” he said.

Being young is also beneficial because he is more technology-savvy, which helps in promoting his business.

At his age, he knows he can afford some setbacks, which could make him a better entrepreneur.

“There is room for error and time to recover, unlike for businessmen who started in their 30s or 40s,” he said. “Faced with huge setbacks, most of them never made it back on track.”

But while enjoying the good side of this opportunity, Joaquin shared that he is learning a lot of things that cannot be found in business management books.

“My Political Science professors stressed the importance of being responsible and independent in all aspects of one’s life. Having my own business taught me that again,” he said. “But the stakes are higher this time, as my future is in my hands now.”

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He added that his Thomasian roots helped him every step of the way, particularly in the tough moments of his business life.

“This entire year was never short of failures and frustrations in my branch applications,” he shared. “My Thomasian upbringing and my faith in God helped me get through those.”

He also looks forward to opening a branch in UST in order to give back to his alma mater.

“I want to serve as an inspiration to the young students,” he said.

Bigger things ahead

Joaquin is happy for the uphill climb of Icebreakers, but he and Sevilla are still going to promote innovations in the way they serve ice scramble.

He added that they will also be opening stalls in LRT and MRT stations in the coming months.

“Why rest on your laurels when your competitors are like mushrooms that never cease to sprout?” he said.

The young entrepreneur is also open to hopping to other opportunities, seeing that business has its highs and lows.

“I can’t count on this as a constant in my life,” he shared. “It will be safer for me and my future family to have a good fallback.”

But the most important thing, Joaquin has learned, is not financial success, but keeping one’s goodness intact.

“Always think that if you become successful, it’s to help others—your family and loved ones, especially. When your intentions are good and you’re not selfish, God will really help you achieve your dreams. Everything will fall into place,” he said.

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