There’s a quiet revolution going on with the start-up sector in the country today. No, this is not the rise of the traditional SMEs, but rather new and dynamic e-businesses that suddenly seem to be sprouting, and competing alongside traditional brick and mortar vendors.
This is the new generation of global entrepreneurs in an increasingly borderless world, and Quentin Bouche considers himself belonging to this new breed. He is the country managing director of Ensogo Philippines, which forms part of a leading e-commerce business in the Southeast Asia and Hong Kong region, specializing in flash sales.
Founded in 2010, Ensogo Ltd currently operates in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The company was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:E88) in December 2013.
It is considered as one of Asia’s preferred online shopping destinations, featuring a vast selection of products, services and travel offers. The company also prides itself in partnering with global name brands for the best offerings.
But the company is best known for “flash sales” or limited time deals, which offer huge discounts on services and brand-name products for a short period of time. According to the company’s corporate data, each flash sale carries a wide range of categories including fashion, accessories, beauty, daily essentials and homeward, among others.
In the Philippines, the company wasopened in 2011 by a Thai entrepreneur. Bouche explains that last year was a milestone for Ensogo Philippines, as the company was acquired by a group of companies publicly listed in Australia that initially was called “iBuy Group.” Since the acquisition, the group rebranded and changed its corporate name to Ensogo. Bouche says the change of ownership also completely changed the focus of the company. “Today, the goal is to offer exciting deals, focusing more on the products, not the services, exciting deals that the household and the wives would be looking for everyday, including fashion and beauty products, mostly branded. We cater to the superwives and the supermoms.”
Bouche came on board Ensogo Philippines in June 2014. According to him, the first 12 months were spent in restructuring and rebuilding the company. Recently, Ensogo Philippines received an infusion of 55 million Australian dollars (P1.8 billion) in new funds, and the company is now aggressively pushing for growth in all its markets.
With the current robust economy of the Philippines, coupled with a ballooning number of people with mobile devices nationwide, Bouche says he knows the country is also a magnet for other e-commerce sites that are competing in the Internet marketplace. But beyond the rivals, he adds,their competition “even though it sounds cliche, is really just ourselves, because the market in the Philippines right now is not really exploited.” He says it means there is no single successful company that dominates the market at the moment. If any, he says the real competition would still be with their offline competitors, such as SM and the like.
To bolster their brand recall, the company recently announced the release of their newly developed mobile app for Android, ensuring that users will have quicker access for a more convenient mobile shopping experience. Their iOS app will soon be released as well. At the same time, the company now also offers free delivery nationwide, even as it gears for more marketing campaigns toward the end of the year.
Bouche smiles warmly when asked why a young French guy like him decides to uproot himself from halfway around the globe to work in unfamiliar surroundings, and his reply echoes the sentiment of many. Amid a global economic slowdown, Asia continues to defy the trend. The founders of Ensogo had already seen this trend, he says, and is the reason why the company was already in the Philippines as early as four years ago.
These days, the young entrepreneur is focusing more not just on his company’s visibility, but also in trying to expand his corporate network as well. He was recently a guest speaker of the prestigious business organization Management Association of the Philippines, where he talked about trends in online retail. At the same time, he regularly travels to different parts of the country as his way of continuously familiarizing himself with the Philippines. He has embraced living in the country, he says, and finds that he discovers more positive aspects of the culture each time. For him, it is all about finding new places and treating them as a second home, wherever he maybe.