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This 23-Year-Old CEO Wanted A Cool Hangout For Millennials—So He Built A Cafe/Pub

Default Café Pub’s Bob Freking quit his office job to pursue his lifelong dream
by Khatrina Bonagua | Jun 1, 2018
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Spoiled, entitled, and lazy—these are just some of the adjectives used to describe millennials. We can't actually pinpoint when and where the negativity started. Is it from the older generation, who can't keep up with this modern world’s fast-paced and digitally obsessed lifestyle? Or is it because of what we see on social media—college students full of hugot (we don’t even like using that word), fresh graduates who rant online because they can’t find a job and believe they deserve more (newsflash: we all need to start somewhere) or is it from young professionals who believe they're experiencing a quarter-life crisis? Come to think of it, maybe we—all of us, not just millennials—are all a bit spoiled, entitled, and lazy. It’s just that now, we can instantly give feedback and make comments thanks to the internet.

Another attribute that’s constantly being connected to millennials is their lack of loyalty. They tend to switch courses or hop from one job to another. But have you ever thought that being inconsistent and indecisive might be their way of finding what they really want in their lives? What if they just don't adhere to the "pwede na" mindset?

For Bob Freking, the 23-year-old CEO of Default Café Pub, the di-pwede-ang-pwede-na attitude should be called “aggressiveness” instead. With that philosophy in mind, he quit his job last year and started his own restaurant business. But before being a young CEO, Bob was a marketing graduate of the University of Sto. Tomas, and used to be a journalist for local tech website YugaTech. 

“Default Cafe Pub is my brainchild. I did the surveys, did my own experiments, did the research and focus group discussions. We created a cafe pub that aims to inspire and encourage millennials through our drinks,” he shares with FHM.com.ph. “Drinks don’t control us, we control drinks!”

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Default Café Pub started last October 2017. It's an establishment that's committed to uniting, educating, and empowering millennials. “I want my fellow millennials to be ambitious and understanding. I want to do this through great-tasting, conversation-inducing drinks."

True to its promise, Default Café Pub is slowly becoming one of the most popular pubs for millennials. Recently, the restaurant even became a trending topic on Facebook because of its university-centric challenge: the Lucifer Shot.

“The Lucifer Shot is fiery, but it's as sweet as the Devil's words," Bob shares. "Needless to say, it hits hard. Take a shot and represent your school on our scoreboard. Every 10th shot from your school gets it for free.”

With the positive response that the café has been getting online and in real life, we can say that being the aggressive millennial paid off for Bob. Let’s get to know the young business owner better below:

How did you know you were in the wrong career?

I wouldn't say I was in the wrong career. All my experiences vary differently and are all essential to what I'm doing today. I worked for Jollibee as early as 16. Then I went all the way with writing, technology reviews, and YouTube videos. This has all shaped me to become aggressive when it comes to work, social media marketing, PR, and understanding how to run my own business.

Was it always your dream to have your own business?

I've always wanted my own café—something like Starbucks but more aggressive, wild, and active when it comes to new ideas.

How did you prepare for the big career shift? 

When I was very young, I believed I was always destined to run a business, having family businesses ourselves. But I don't just want to inherit a business. As early as graduation, I wanted to start something big. I saved, my family pitched in, and I also opened up to investors.

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What makes Default Café Pub stand out from all the other pubs out there?

For soft casual to heavy drinking millennials who go out to drink with others, Default Café Pub provides less intimidating drinks, like Alcoholic Milkshakes and Milk Tea, party-games that bring people closer together, and a vibe that always aims to educate and inspire values.

So far, what’s been your highest point as a restaurant owner?

Insane growth! We're constantly going viral, both on Facebook and Twitter. 21,000+ likes now, an active group community, very engaging followers, and it's not slowing down. People keep talking, and that's a very good sign that we're doing something great.

And what’s been the most difficult aspect of the business?

People management. Training staff and dealing with customers—these are all necessary but very tiring!

What’s your advice to anyone thinking about making a drastic career change?

If you're in your twenties, it's okay to jump jobs a lot. If you don't know what to do with your life, keep exploring! I've met a lot of people who are successful, and a lot of people who are lost. The main difference is that successful people always move in the direction of finding success, thinking about the next step, and not dwelling in “pwede na.”

Switching careers isn't always going to end well. Keep learning from your bosses and experiences. Don't just work for a salary. If you've learned everything there is to learn, leave and look for another opportunity.

When you're ready to go solo, you'll know. Right now, even as a boss, I'm still looking for things to learn and people to learn from. I can't stay inside that “pwede na” mindset. 

What’s the most important thing people should know about owning a business?

Businesses are tricky. You need two things: capital and experience. Get as much of both as possible before starting. When you know you can run all functions of the business yourself and when you're sure your capital can keep your business running for a year or two for experimentation while incurring losses, that's when you do it.

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What's your inspiration and motivation for being an aggressive business owner?

A lot of people inspire me, but the most inspiring thing for me is not a person but a situation. I look around the Philippines, and I feel like there is a huge need for Filipinos to unite and discuss ideas better. Filipinos need a leader to unite them, and drinks are the best way to do it: caffeine and sugar to power them up, and alcohol to open up their personalities.

How do you overcome business challenges?

Everyone gets those. I still do. It's not easy, but always consider facts over feelings. Cry it out, tell someone you deeply trust, and then do something about it. Get some advice if you need it, but go do something with what's handed over to you. Survival of the fittest.

What are your future career #goals?

It can change, but as it stands now, I look forward to a united nation. If we can mix milk tea and milkshakes with alcohol, then Filipinos can definitely come together.

Default Cafe Pub is located at 1844 Pilar Hidalgo Lim Street, Manila

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