Just like any person who discovered the Internet and the wonderful things it could do in the late 1990s to the early 2000s, then 19-year-old Bjorn Pardo got hooked on it, specifically to what was then an equally young eCommerce site called eBay.
His introduction to the business of buying and selling random things came right at the birth of the whole concept, which had everyone on eBay either selling or buying something incessantly. He was then living in the United States.
“The first thing I ever sold was a camcorder. Back in 1999 to 2000 people were still taking videos on their camcorders, and not on their mobile phones,” the young businessman recalled to The Sunday Times Magazine during his formal launch as a Globe Platinum plan ambassador.
“I then shifted to selling tapes—the blank tapes that go inside the camcorder. From there, it just evolved to travel gift certificates, to practically anything,” Pardo continued. “So in the beginning, it was just a bunch of random stuff—whatever I could find and make a profit on, I would do it. And it was fun, really. I wouldn’t travel cross country but I would be traveling to different states looking for things to sell.”
Pardo attributed the surge of eBay and his “addiction” to the phenomenon to the fact that the site wasn’t populated with big brands back then, and that regular folks had the opportunity to buy and sell competitively among other members.
Nevertheless, Pardo laughingly recalled that anyone from the Philippines who probably saw him during his eBay days would have wondered what had happened to him.
“I was a Civil Engineering student at De La Salle University, but, because the whole thing didn’t feel right, I ended up leaving for the US after my first year in college,” he related.
All the same, his activity on eBay became very profitable as he began selling items in the hundred.
“It was exciting. It was definitely hard to do as well so it made me really, really busy,” added.
Eventually, his “eBay addiction” lead to another good, as Pardo went on to found a business solutions company to help sellers like himself.
As soon as Pardo went into the online trade business seriously, he found himself scrutinizing the entire process.
“What struck me the most was that every single seller had a difficult time with the logistics of delivering purchased items to respective buyers,” he explained. “eBay is just one portal where people conducted these transactions, but there were a number of others small online business owners that most probably experienced the same thing.”
Zooming in on this very important component of the trade, Pardo in 2004 and only 23 years old, founded Xend—an international logistics and courier service that, unlike other companies, offers a “pick-up, pack, and deliver” system so that sellers need not leave their homes to deliver purchases to their buyers.
“In the beginning, it was definitely a challenge to get people to take us seriously; we were kind of the new kid on the block. Also, when we were starting out, we only had two employees, so that my next challenge was that I had to play many different roles,” Pardo continued.
“Luckily, people were able to connect with me because we were definitely seeking out entrepreneurs and businesses just like my own, and you know, they connected—and it’s been snowballing from there.”
From domestic courier services in 2006, Xend expanded to international operations, officially delivering to 230 countries as of 2016 with the tagline “Anywhere in the world from Manila to Madagascar.” With more than 200,000 shippers to date, the company achieved a feat in delivering its 5-millionth parcel mark.
Pardo said that 12 years into the business, challenges have taken a new form. “Now, it’s about educating the people that eCommerce is here—that it’s safe and it’s easy to buy online, and it’s just as easy to sell online. That’s what we are trying to work on right now, and it is very challenging.”
With a growing business and an equally growing family to take care of—he is loving husband and a doting father to four children—Pardo’s responsibilities can be overwhelming but he happily told The Sunday Times Magazine that he eventually learned how to better balance the two.
“It’s really just about not sweating the small stuff and not letting the little things bother you. You can’t let everything affect you and you should never bring your work home. Like now, as much as possible, if I’m home, I’m really home with my family. Because if you are focused and working hard, things will work themselves out at the office,” he advised.
When asked for tips to young entrepreneurs, the now-successful businessman kept it simple: “Just do it. It’s so easy to get online and supplement your income and earn extra money. Just give it a shot. We have hundreds of people signing up every day to use our services, and these are people who are trying to start a business, trying to earn an extra money.”
Pertaining to longevity, Pardo added, “Also, just persevere. That’s how I was able to stay relevant, really. What separates an average entrepreneur from a successful one is sometimes pure perseverance. There are challenges along the way but you have to persevere and know that whatever obstacle is there, you can learn from it and that you do can do better. You can keep on improving every day.”