Who hasn’t dreamed of rage-quitting, storming out of the office, and setting in motion some insanely great business idea, never to look back at that office again during a particularly hellish workday?
Too bad that IRL, you always do go back to that office, only to dream of rage-quitting another day.
To inspire you, we got seven millennial men who actually left their jobs to pursue businesses to open up about what they were doing before they resigned. Here, they explain how they got started on the entrepreneurial path, and what lessons they can share for those who want more to life than the 9-to-5. Whether your dream is to start a small biz or to build a company that will shake up an entire industry, learn from these men who made it happen.
FROM SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER TO COFFEE BUSINESS OWNER
Business location: Mandaluyong City
I used to be a social media manager at an advertising agency. My job mainly was to handle different social media accounts of brands in different industries. I did that for two years.
I quit because I felt that I wasn’t meant to be doing what I was doing in the office. On a side note, I already had the passion for coffee and dreamt of putting up my own coffee shop. The first step was being a barista—and the idea of moving from the corporate world to being a barista really scared me. But that’s what I really wanted, so here I am!
This is how I got into my business: Currently, I have two businesses, Man on the Moon PH and YDG Coffee. Man on the Moon PH is an online coffee delivery service specializing in different cold brew infusions. I conceptualized the idea with my girlfriend and now co-owner, Dan Aragon, while working as a barista in YDG Coffee. It was also the easiest route for me during that time since I didn’t have enough funds to put up a café. For YDG Coffee, that was the space where I learned how to operate a café while at the same time improve on my coffee knowledge. Eventually, I thought it’d be good to invest early in the business while it was still small so I expressed my interest in becoming a partner.
I take pride in the fact that I’m able to work on both harmoniously. I’ve also managed to sort of merge both: the cold brew you avail in YDG Coffee is actually Man on the Moon’s. For Man on the Moon, I’m proud that it has been featured in a lot of articles and blogs; for YDG Coffee, each time we get included in articles or lists on the top cafes to look out for, nakakakilig ‘yun! The best for me though was when I finally had the courage to join one of the coffee competitions here in the Philippines, representing YDG Coffee.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my career change: Don’t be afraid to jump and try the one thing you’ve been dreaming to do. If you’re really passionate about it, the world will naturally find ways to make it work for you.
FROM IT ENGINEER TO AGRICULTURE SERVICE COMPANY OWNER
Occupation: Managing director, Daxienda Enterprises; CEO, Paxet Dragon, Inc.
Business location: Tobias Fornier, Antique; Patnongon, Antique
I used to work as an IT engineer and SAP basis consultant in the R&D department of a multinational IT company based in the Shanghai Center of Excellence, China. In total, I’ve been in the SAP industry for around 10 years.
I quit because, while I believe I had gained technical expertise over the years and had been satisfactorily compensated, I had grown weary of the stress of IT life brought about by corporate politics, on top of the already tough engineering work.
This is how I got into my business: When I went back with my mom to her hometown in Antique, I saw in the farms that sugar millers had nothing to process because the farmers didn’t have crops, and the farmers didn’t have crops because they didn’t have any capital. Meanwhile, many young professionals are looking for alternate investment options. From these observations, it seems that all the elements are there to be able to produce sugar, it’s just that they can’t seem to find each other. From that necessity, the company was born.
In our business model, we offer to investors, for a fixed amount of money, the opportunity to “co-own” a one-hectare hacienda. We take their money, spend it to plant sugarcane on the idle lands, harvest it, and send the canes to the millers to make sugar. When the sugar is sold, everybody gets a percentage. I later built a second company with my friends, Paxet Dragon Inc., its primary purpose being to establish a market network and trade the sugar we produce when it’s ready.
I take pride in the fact that the company was able to fully subscribe 42 hectares of idle land during initial offering with many investors waitlisted as we expand our operations to more farmlands.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my career change: Panic is the best teacher; it is only when our very survival is threatened that we are able to figure out the best strategy to bring the business through the challenges. Do not underestimate the power of the human spirit; have faith that God will not give us something we can't handle, because it’s all birthing pains.
FROM IT CONSULTANT TO FURNITURE MAKER
Occupation: Furniture maker, DEKKO Furniture & Design
Business location: Imus City, Cavite
I used to work in the IT/BPO industry. I first worked at a BPO as a workforce specialist for two years. After that I did technical sales for a company. I worked as a SAP consultant at a multinational IT company for almost three years before I resigned.
I quit because I felt I was just doing the job for the sake of earning a living. If you don’t love your work, whatever you do, you won't be successful.
This is how I got into my business: I loved building stuff even before I resigned. Since I had a lot of free time, I helped my wife with her styling business by building props that she needed. I posted some of my work online, received good feedback, then started to work on small furniture projects for friends. Eventually, someone suggested I start my own brand. At first, I was hesitant—I felt I wasn’t ready since I was just just a DIY-er. So I did a lot of hands-on training, studying, and perfecting my craft.
The biggest challenge was sourcing materials since we use reclaimed wood—pieces of wood from salvaged old houses. We also had to really explain to our clients that we make furniture that honors the natural character of the wood and that is the brand’s aesthetic, and that we make the furniture ourselves—that we make handmade pieces for work and the home.
I take pride in the fact that we are a young team composed of out-of-school youth who are passionate and hardworking individuals. My biggest accomplishment is providing livelihood for my artisans by teaching and guiding them to be competent and giving them work opportunities just by pursuing the thing I love. I am also humbled that my business has been recognized in the media; we were featured by Real Living and on Green Living on ANC.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my career change: “Do the things that you love and the rest will follow”—because I like what I do, I have the drive to make it work. “Don’t be afraid to dream”—I pursued a life I get to live instead of earning a living. “Your dreams are on the other side of your grit”—liking or wishing for something isn’t enough; you have to have passion and persistence.
FROM SOFTWARE DEVELOPER TO HR CONSULTANCY FIRM OWNER
Occupation: CEO and co-founder, Springboard Philippines; co-founder, Vitruv Technologies; co-founder Lyve Communications; part-time professor, De La Salle University Manila’s Decision Science and Innovation Department, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business
Business Location: Greenhills, San Juan, with satellite offices in Manila and Makati
I used to work as an instructional designer for an IT firm, where I developed online training material for international clients across different industries. I later joined a job platform startup that uses artificial intelligence to curate the right candidates for companies who are looking to build talent, where I was exposed to the nuts and bolts of the business.
I quit because when my direct manager left, I felt it was time to move on. Both companies had equipped me with the right tools to understand both perspectives of an employee and a founder.
This is how I got into my business: When I was drinking after my graduate class in Ateneo, I suddenly thought of the idea of starting an HR and technology company when I overheard people at the table beside mine talking about how hard it was to acquire the right talent. I wanted to fill the gap by sourcing for potential candidates, reaching them through the right channels, inviting them through whichever platform, and training them so they could get jobs. That same night, I called my friend from high school, now co-founder, Tristan Ong, to discuss the idea. We met after two days, and the rest is history.
I take pride in the fact that Springboard has been running since 2013. In those six years, we’ve also hatched a few spinoff companies: one dedicated to website development and digital marketing (Lyve Communications), one focusing on managed HRIS/payroll and other subscription-based technology products (Vitruv Technologies), one which partnered which TESDA in developing training programs for potential call center agents (Springboard Career Academy), and another that focuses on headhunting, staff augmentation, and RPO services (Springboard Select). We also initiated our biggest job conference called Wake Up Manila! last July in the SMX Convention Center.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my career change: Money is not your only metric—be sure to see the actual value you create for you clients. Share your ideas; I became a professor in DLSU partly because I wanted to give back. And, no matter what your career’s condition is now, do not forget about family.
FROM MEDIA STRATEGIST TO RESTAURATEUR
Business locations: Quezon City and Pasig City
I used to plan and execute media strategies for corporate clients with an agency for four years.
I quit because the public commute from QC to Makati and back crushed my spirit. When I started, the rush was already at an hour and a half one way, and towards the end of my last year, it was at two hours. I was losing four hours daily when I could be doing so much more with my youth and energy.
I really enjoyed my work, and there I met a lot of great workmates and friends. But I felt I could be doing so much more if the work was customized to where I was and what I could do.
This is how I got into my business: I was always entrepreneurial. I live in the Maginhawa QC area, and I saw a spot that was perfect for a hole-in-the-wall resto. I shared this idea with a friend from the agency, and another from college, and we formed a company to run this business. Pino Restaurant was born in 2008.
The initial challenges were questions like, “Where is Maginhawa? Why go to a resto in a village?” So we had to promote the street first, then our resto. Come 2018, Maginhawa is now known as a food district in QC.
I take pride in the fact that we as founders of Pino have six stores together, and each of us have other concepts as well. I tear up whenever an employee, current or former, tells me that their children are now in school, or they have a better residence and lifestyle, or they’re successful in their new employment. Giving people livelihood gives me great pride and joy.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my career change: If you’re currently employed, network well and save money. If you worked hard during employment, prepare to work harder in entrepreneurship. Employment is 8-to-5, Monday to Friday; running a business is 24/7, 365 days a year. Not all businesses succeed, so prepare for heartbreaks. And lastly, during stressful times, I remind myself that I chose this.
FROM NETWORK ENGINEER TO WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHER
Occupation: Wedding videographer, Jake Olaso Wedding Films
Business location: Las Piñas City
I used to be a network engineer, tasked with maintaining a client’s network infrastructure. I practiced network engineering for around seven years.
I quit because, while I loved being a network engineer, I had also discovered my passion for filmmaking and editing, and the two split my time. I used to do both at the same time for around three years before I quit: I’d go to a shoot in the morning, then work in the evening. I began to spend more time at shoots than at the office, and my colleagues would shoulder my work while I was away. I did not want to keep it that way, so I had to choose one. I resigned from my work in 2013.
This is how I got into my business: I started by being a hobbyist photographer who used to spend time on photography sites. One time, I came across a wedding workshop in one online group and figured that maybe I could do that.
There, I met my mentors and started to join them for training. I was a freelance videographer for one year before I started my own studio. Word got around that I was doing wedding videography, so from there I was able to build my portfolio.
I take pride in the fact that my team has a steady stream of client bookings—both weddings and non-weddings. We also get to go to places we used to only imagine visiting, like Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, London, South Korea, and San Francisco. We’ve also been invited to do speaking engagements for brands and schools, and seeing those students put up their own studios is an achievement as well.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my career change: There will be times when it will be hard to be a boss and a friend at the same time; there will be times when you think your work sucks; there will be times when you will feel really tired. But if your business is your passion, you will have many reasons not to quit and keep battling on.
FROM INVESTMENT BANKER TO BAR OWNER
Occupation: Owner, Somewhere Else Cafe & Lounge
Business location: Cagayan de Oro City
I used to work for five years in the investment banking industry. We processed the everyday investment deals of our bank with other banks and big companies.
I quit because I wanted to get out of the corporate world. I wanted to start my own business and it was difficult to do this in Manila because the Manila market is already saturated, and my connections and other resources are in my hometown, Cagayan de Oro.
This is how I got into my business: The first lightbulb moment really was when my friends and I went to the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. We went to a popular bar that was owned by a friend of mine, and it was packed with people drinking and dancing. It turned out that majority of the people at the bar were from CDO, and they were all somehow connected and acquainted with each other. That’s when I realized that at the time, CDO didn’t have a high-end bar that served imported alcohol by the bottle. Back then, CDO had a very provincial nightlife—people drinking buckets of beer at al fresco drinking spots, particularly convenience stores in gasoline stations.
When we opened, we were an instant hit, inviting those same groups we saw in that bar in Cebu. The bar is not visible from the street and we don’t even have signage, but the Facebook posts of these groups of people were enough to start a very hot word-of-mouth marketing strategy for the bar.
I take pride in the fact that we were the game-changers in the city. Even though other bars in the city followed suit and made their hard liquor more accessible to the public, we created that lasting image. When people want to drink hard liquor, they think of us. When people want to drink imported beers or local craft beers, they think of us. When people think of parties and DJs, they think of us.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my career change: Looking back, everything I did was a very big leap of faith, and right now, I’m still learning from the experience. I guess the best lesson I’ve learned is never stagnate in trying to learn new things. There is always a big opportunity that’s waiting to be grabbed.