THESE Thomasians didn’t wait long to find success in the real world.

Gold Lester Navea, 21, was still a Marketing student when he put up University Scoop in September last year. The ice cream joint on A. Lacson Avenue has since become a hit among Thomasians.

Dan Angelo Sangalang, 18, put up Disenyo Tomasino, an online apparel business, while Gabriele Benedict Pilapil, a nursing alumnus, is the man behind Goldstreak, a successful clothing line.

Navea has always seen himself as an entrepreneur, but was somehow discouraged because of his family’s “financial constraints”. But with a mix of persistence and passion—and lots of support from friends and family—he was able to start an ice cream business.

“When we were about to start, my family and I surveyed establishments surrounding the University to carefully decide on what particular product we could offer,” he recalled. “Since we were all ice cream lovers, and there was no ice cream shop in the area, we decided to start one.”

Navea, alumnus from the College of Commerce and Business Administration, found a small space near the University’s Lacson gate and, true to his name, he struck gold.

‘Scoop’ of success

“Scoop,” as Navea calls it, has become “a family effort”—his mother takes charge of both ice cream and “hot meal” recipes, while his sisters help manage the finances and attend to customers.

Less than a year into the business, “Scoop” has evolved from “just” an ice cream parlor into a full-scale restaurant serving hot meals at student-friendly price. Navea has also begun hiring fellow Thomasians as part-time employees.

“They get to work hard for whatever it is that they earn,” he said. “I want them to feel like an adult and it proved to be a good move.”

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School spirit

Sangalang also braved the risks of establishing a business at a young age when he put up Disenyo Tomasino.

But unlike Navea, who carefully treaded the business stream, the incoming Management Accounting senior started his endeavor by making a Facebook page without having a concrete idea on what his merchandise would be.

Combining his talent in graphic design with UST-designed merchandise, he launched his eight-month-old product line, which features jackets and shirts.

“My designs are very simple, but they truly emanate Thomasian school spirit,” he said.

Like Sangalang, Pilapil also relied on Thomasian pride and the clothing industry for a business idea. He used his savings to launch Goldstreak in 2009, not as a student but as a registered nurse at the Philippine Heart Center. Its store is now housed at the ground floor of the multi-deck carpark.

“I noticed that compared to other prestigious universities, UST did not have any mainstream merchandise that promoted Thomasian pride and unity, so I decided to start this business,” he told the Varsitarian via e-mail.

All three entrepreneurs added that the Internet has been of great help to their respective businesses, given their market’s reliance on social networking sites such as Facebook and Multiply.

Young and earning

With an early start in business, Navea said that being able to share in family expenses gives him a sense of pride.

“Through the help of other sources of income, I can help my sisters get through college. Aside from that, since my parents can’t work forever, I would also like to help them,” he said.

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Navea told the Varsitarian that having a business of his own nourishes his creative side, unlike what would have happened if he got into a franchise.

“When you get a franchise, you are required to follow rules. I do not like to be under those rules because I like to think of new ‘gimmicks’ to satisfy customers,” he said.

But the Marketing alumnus added that he knows that income could become unstable in business ventures, so he is focusing on building his career, currently working for a high-end real estate company in Makati.

“I need a steady income because I’m not sure if ‘Scoop’ will continue to succeed or fail,” he said. “I have to be realistic about it, so I need something to look forward to every month.”

Sangalang—who shared that his childhood fancy of having a business never waned—echoed Navea’s views, adding that he plans to continue building his career as an accountant and then use his earnings from that as capital for a bigger business.

“I do not want to spend my entire life working as an employee. I want to have my own clothing line in the future like that of Nike and Adidas. But in order for me to achieve this, I have to build my career first,” he said.

For Pilapil, having an early start in business has enabled him “to learn the ropes of entrepreneurship, thus empowering you to [let your business] grow, as well as to start more businesses in the future.”

He told the Varsitarian that the profit from Goldstreak helps not only with his personal expenses, but—more importantly—in making the business grow and inspiring him “to do more as a businessman.”

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Unlike Navea and Sangalang, Pilapil said he looks at his nursing career and his clothing line equally, not seeing his business as a mere sideline.

“I believe that a mark of a good entrepreneur is the ability to multitask,” he said. “I aim to focus on both my chosen career and my business.”

Lessons learned

Navea said he thanks his Thomasian upbringing for teaching him how to look after the customers, adding that this mindset has taught him to “understand that whatever [social] level your customers are in, you have to reach out to them and adjust because they are customers nonetheless.”

He added that he learned about priorities while he was managing ‘Scoop’ and studying simultaneously.

“You have to know your priorities and you have to know how to deal with them,” he said, adding that student entrepreneurs have to plan ahead to make everything fit into their schedules.

Sangalang, on the other hand, has learned how to “think carefully where we would spend our money.”

“It is also a must to save [money] so that we will have something to spend when an emergency arises,” he said.

For Pilapil, the best lesson he got from his experience as a young entrepreneur is that anything is possible with the Lord, as long as one strives to be better.

“I realized that, with God’s grace, all things are possible, especially when you work hard and believe,” he said.

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