• By The Financial District


Updated: Sep 27, 2020

To hear Carlo Calimon talk about his business and his passion is to get a glimpse of a vibrant future for the country founded on entrepreneurship which should be the way for a robust economy that the Philippines sorely needs – given the economic dislocation from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Imagine a group of high school students immersed in their own business plans and playing out scenarios about how to market a product or a service that they learned from “integrated entrepreneurship” taught them in school and you see Calimon’s hand.

Further down the road, picture a group of batch-mates in college making a pitch to a company specializing in helping start-ups navigate the way to a successful fruition of their business idea complete with mentoring sessions and again you see Calimon in his element.

And now with the Covid-19 pandemic, think of the webinars, programs and other online offerings meant to help the entrepreneurs and the micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs and you see Calimon in his best element.

In all three instances, Calimon, who had dreamt of becoming a waiter, is helped by his business partner, serial entrepreneur Jay Bernardo who is as passionate as he is in linking up with the Department of Education in including in the high school curriculum a subject on entrepreneurship, in shepherding the start-ups they select for innovative ideas, and in meeting head-on the challenge of the pandemic.

“When I was young, I wanted to be a waiter. Funny as it may sound, I think it reflected my personality of wanting to be of service,” Calimon said with a chuckle.

That mindset to be of service is what distinguishes the company that he and his business partner, Jay Bernardo conceptualized. They have helped many aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams, ever since.

Calimon, like any other, did not embark head-on into this business of nurturing businesses, starting up and making a difference in the lives of others. He was not as sure of himself then and actually was trying to toy with the idea of being a lawyer or just be employed.

“I never really knew what to do with my life,” he confessed to The Financial District. “ It was like I wanted to get into business while at the same time I didn’t.”

Thus, he took up economics in college after finishing kinder and then high school from La Salle Green Hills. And it was at Ateneo de Manila University where he learned of price elasticity and comparative advantage, did the math on Econometrics and abstruse subjects that gave him the insight to try the world of business.

And this was later on reinforced when he took an MBA at Asian Institute of Management where a thesis on a Feasibility Study on a Specialty Milk for Wyeth Philippines gave him the Eureka moment to set up the company to help start-ups.

It was at AIM where he linked up with Jay Bernardo, his professor in Entrepreneurship, Marketing which was his major in his MBA studies and it was in that institution where he learned about entrepreneurship and “how to start a business.” And just like others who wanted to make an impact in this world, he also “started teaching it and talking about it.”

Now, Calimon together with his former professor are now helping start-ups make successful forays into the world of business. There is Nanotronics, Insight SCS and Fanbase, three start-ups he cites for the DNA that they look for in selecting what start-up to help and mentor.

That DNA is innovation. And that is what Calimon finds terrific and to see him discuss this is to watch him full of excitement, of warmth, gesticulating with emphasis at every snippet of thought.

After all, when he started his own businesses – and they were many—he saw to it that there is innovation embedded within. He had his hits and he had his misses but he savored the fact that there were two common elements in the businesses he waded into.

One, the desire to be different and innovative. And two, “I wanted to help create a business that made a difference in the lives of people,” he said.

It is heartwarming to see entrepreneurs like Calimon who want to make a difference in the lives of others and to hear him sounding out his ideas is to get the assurance that the country is lucky to have this kind of millennial's trudging in our concrete jungles.

“It is never about the money,” he says , his head emphasizing the point. It is about the people around you. Whether it is your employees, your partners, customers and stakeholders. Be open to change. Adapt quickly and you will survive.”

That adaptation to change is what led Calimon and his professor to do the webinars, create programs and be a beacon to MSMEs which after all account for 70 percent of the employed in the country.

And for the two, Covid-19 cannot make them on a screeching stop for their advocacy; the pandemic actually shone a light on the opportunities available. For they had embraced uncertainty in their business model.

Thus, there is Insight SCS partnering with the Department of Agriculture and USAID in creating a hub for agricultural products in FTI during the pandemic, Nanotronics, which produce nanocrystals sourced from indigenous materials, busy fixing their focus and positioning, and Fanbase which seeks to allow influencers to maximize and monetize their followers, about to wrap up his presentation.

Calimon wanted to be remembered for the contribution he has made “towards the development of a more entrepreneurial Philippines “ and his foray with his partner into having a curriculum in high school for integrated entrepreneurship is a great start, a grand vision that could elevate the country to have middle-income status like South Korea.

It is a great future – and doable and for Calimon that gives him the goosebumps.

The Financial District would like to learn more from its audience. Can you please give us feedback on this article you just read. Click Here to participate in our online survey.