Tag: Potato Corner

Corner of success

Published online by the Business World, September 24, 2019

JOSE MAGSAYSAY JR. had scant corporate knowledge and experience when he started Potato Corner with his partners.

But through sheer determination and hard work, he built Potato Corner to one of the leading brands in the fast food industry.

His first foray into the industry began after he dropped out of college to work in a hamburger chain to help his mother with the household finances. In 1992, his brother-in-law suggested that they start a business selling flavored french fries to make money on the side.

They soon opened the first Potato Corner kiosk in one of Metro Manila’s biggest malls. This fledgling startup’s first office was his mother’s house and their first filing cabinet was her old oven.

It took considerable time and effort for Mr. Magsaysay and his partners to get the company off the ground. He recounts, “Most of us had no experience working in a corporate environment so it took us a long time to learn how to run a company. We had to learn the function of the board, shareholders and CEO.”

By learning through experience and experimenting with a franchising business model, he and his partners were able to open 120 Potato Corner stores by 1997.

As Potato Corner grew, Mr. Magsaysay eventually had to decide between his full-time job at the hamburger chain and Potato Corner.

Being a risk-taker, he chose the latter and left his stable job as a district manager.

To this day, he stands by his decision as he advises entrepreneurs that, “If you want to succeed in something you want to do, you better cut all your lifelines. If you have an option to always go back to something, you’ll never do your best.”

After five years, Mr. Magsaysay decided to try his hand at new things and left Potato Corner to become the general manager of a donut chain. He also returned to school and earned his master’s degree in entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). As he was about to graduate from the AIM, the Asian Financial Crisis hit and Potato Corner stores dropped from 120 to less than 40.

Refusing to give up on this venture, he returned to Potato Corner armed with a five-year multi-business plan where he rationalized operations and cut costs to preserve cash flow. His plan also included streamlining the company’s processes and operations by developing systems aimed to strengthen its supply chain. He worked with business consultants and third parties to create solutions for the company’s issues.

He also transformed the company’s culture into a more open and collaborative environment by boosting morale and fostering a sense of camaraderie among employees and management. He says that he strives to find a way to work with the people he hires and integrate them into the system of the company.

Potato Corner bounced back under Mr. Magsaysay’s leadership and became a staple fast-food kiosk in malls and schools. From the remaining 40 kiosks, they have opened over 1,000 stores in 11 foreign markets today.

Mr. Magsaysay credits the company’s success to its easy-to-get franchise model which makes business ownership accessible, creating a whole community of budding entrepreneurs. He claims that their franchisees get the best and highest net profit margin because they do not require royalty fees. At present, 80% of the company’s stores are franchises, including its foreign outlets.

Another example of a bold practice is their strategy of setting up stores overseas. Unlike their competitors, Potato Corner does not locate its stores abroad near Filipino communities because they believe that fries are a ubiquitous and well-loved snack. Through this approach, they have opened over 200 stores in Indonesia, Panama, Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Kuwait and the United States.

Despite the company’s considerable success, Mr. Magsaysay and his team refuse to be complacent in today’s challenging business landscape. He explains, “As an entrepreneur, you’re always pivoting, on the edge, and playing a running game.”

One of the most significant challenges is being one company with one brand that sells one product. To address this challenge, Cinco Corp. is diversifying its brand lineup with different products through Halikinu, its subsidiary company, which sells products like shawarma, goto and barbecue that cater to different market segments.

Mr. Magsaysay has big plans for his micro-business as he envisions Cinco Corp. to be the leading kiosk operator in the world with 5,000 stores within the next five years.

What began as a venture to earn extra money has evolved into an enterprise which aims to create, develop and empower entrepreneurs. Not only does Mr. Magsaysay train his franchisees, he also mentors his employees and encourages them. “I want all of you to pass through and graduate from Potato Corner as my business partners.”

He is determined to continue this even after his retirement by investing in start-up businesses as a way of giving back and empowering aspiring entrepreneurs.

Mr. Magsaysay is a maverick and has broken and bended rules in the fast food industry and the best practices set by his competitors. His ability to think out-of-the-box has earned him several accolades such as the AIM Alumni Achievement Award, Asia CEO Awards Entrepreneur of the Year 2016, the Association of Filipino Franchisers Galing ng Pinoy! Award, PLDT-SME MVP Bossing Award and the Franchise Excellence Hall of Fame Award.

A true disruptor in his field, Mr. Magsaysay believes that completely dedicating time and effort to one’s craft can lead to success.

His advice to would-be entrepreneurs is to “Master one thing only and do not think about the money. As soon as you master your craft, people will want to be your partner.”

This article is originally published by the Business World which can be accessed online at https://www.bworldonline.com/corner-of-success/

Pinoy snack favorite takes on the world

MANILA, Philippines — When it comes to snacks, very few come close to the satisfying comfort brought by a cup of crispy fries that’s served hot and flavored to absolute perfection. Potato Corner has perfected the art of making delectable flavored French fries, making it the leading brand in the snack food industry for more than 26 years now.

In an interview with The STAR,  Potato Corner president and chief executive officer Jose  Magsaysay Jr. talks about the brand’s humble beginnings and how it discovered a winning formula that catapulted the company to what it is now.

Humble beginnings

It was in 1992 when Magsaysay and four other partners opened the first Potato Corner kiosk at SM Megamall. He was still working for a fast-food brand at that time, but was looking for a side business for extra income. His brother-in-law had a flavored popcorn company that did so well and this sparked an idea to put flavored powder on French fries as well. “When they invited me to be a partner, I did not hesitate and joined right away. I just looked for a way to get the money needed for the capital. It was both a risk and a blessing because I was still working for a different company but in a span of 30 days, Potato Corner earned a lot and we were really surprised,” Magsaysay says.

Lacking enough capital to open stores in bigger spaces, the business partners were eventually approached by interested parties and offered a franchise agreement.

The decision to adopt a franchising model was the one big break that Potato Corner needed to gain a dominant foothold in the food cart business.

“Having no money to expand on our own, we gave out our first franchise that opened in January the following year. We finally decided to go into franchising to earn the much-needed capital, which allowed us to dominate the market. We’re lucky that the Philippines is the ‘franchise hub of Asia.’ This gives our company the freedom to be as creative as possible. We always encourage our franchisees to think outside the box and create ways to further improve the company,” Magsaysay says.

Shaking up the Pinoy snack scene

Not all food businesses are able to walk the path to success. Starting a business venture is not easy. And even the most amazing ideas run the risk of losing steam and becoming unsustainable in the long term without a proper support system and empowered people to run it.

“We have flavored fries that make kids and kids at heart feel good and flavors you can choose from. It’s that crispy, freshly cooked fries, dusted in good tasting flavored power that our customers love. From there, we focus on it, we look through it and then we further expand the things we can do with the product. Our exceptional team of employees, franchisees, partners and suppliers are incredibly focused on achieving the goal of serving the public with our flavored fries. Our people are our most important assets because of their passion in making Potato Corner a successful brand,” Magsaysay says.

Pinoy flavored fries go global

From a single kiosk at SM Megamall, Potato Corner has successfully established itself as one of the most easily recognizable snack here and abroad, powered by a strong network of over 1,100 branches worldwide.

“Potato Corner is now in Singapore, Hong Kong, USA, Panama, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. We just opened our first branch in Singapore and the company is looking at expanding to more countries. Our franchisees in international branches were our customers before when they were in their teens- many even younger. These are the people who grew up with our brand and are loyal to it,” Magsaysay proudly shares.

“The common misconception that people have in the food industry is that; if you want to grow and prosper, you have to continuously change things up and be innovative. You don’t have to constantly implement change — you just have to be original. Other industries may need to constantly innovate, but that’s not the case with food. When people learn to love your product because of how it already is, you should take advantage of that and stop overthinking,” he says.

-Argie Aguja

*this post is copied and originally published by The Philippine Star, on August 13, 2018  and is also available at https://www.philstar.com/business/business-as-usual/2018/08/13/1841963/pinoy-snack-favorite-takes-world#vikals0X9uvroeod.99