What I learned building my startup out of a second-hand styrofoam box

Words by

Founder of Pandalivery

When I dropped out of UST due to academic difficulties, I was devastated. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I felt I’d never find purpose in life. Culinary school was a temporary detour — more of an ultimatum from my mom, who refused to let me stop going to school.

That’s when I began exploring entrepreneurship. Now steeped in the F&B world, I thought about starting a restaurant, or a food stall. But all around my home of Naga, I saw food businesses saturating the local market. Besides, I didn’t have the capital to put one up anyway. So I thought, what if I bring something new to Naga? What if instead of putting up yet another restaurant for Naga’s foodies, my customers are the restaurants themselves?

That’s when I founded Pandalivery

It was May 1, 2017. I was 19 years old with no real money, but the drive to make this business work. At the time, food delivery wasn’t a thing here in Naga. I knew I was going to have to get creative launching this concept. So I made my decision to launch the first food delivery platform in my area. Next step was to gather my resources. I borrowed two phones my parents’ had lying around, my brother’s four-year-old motorcycle, and a styrofoam box I tied to the back. All-in-all, I spent P500 on sim cards, load, and fuel for the motorcycle. That was the startup.

A few minutes on Facebook and I had a business page up and running. I called it “Project INNOVATE”. It was a generic name, but something I felt captured what I was trying to do in Naga. I began by reaching out to some friends I had who owned a cafe and restaurant. I knew they had some requests for home deliveries, but couldn’t be bothered to add that workflow into their business. So I drove my secondhand, styrofoam startup over and found my first clients.

In Pandalivery’s first month, I was both founder and sole employee of the startup. I started with three partner establishments/merchants, making 10 to 15 deliveries a day. Not to mention my mom’s ultimatum stood and I had to balance the business with school. While my teachers understood (and some even respected) my grind, I was cutting classes to make deliveries, studying from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. just to balance out work and academics. I needed to scale.

So I began hiring employees to handle deliveries, and the business began to take off. I never had a co-founder, so I taught myself to handle operations, finance, marketing, and creatives. If it wasn’t for those people behind my back, I wouldn’t have the guts and determination to keep this startup running. I owe the success of this company to the people who were part of it, my team, my staff, each and every one of them contributed to Pandalivery.




As a young entrepreneur and startup founder, not a lot of people believed in me. I would always get told behind my back that I was not fit to run my business or I was too young to run a food delivery startup. I would feel the sharp knives behind my back but as we were growing, each knife was removed slowly and surely.

Two years later, we’re still here, delivering over three thousand orders for awesome Pandas all over the province. We have more than 60 partner establishments and restaurants on our platform and we’re still growing. Running a startup may be hard but it honestly saved my life — teaching me to dream big and bounce back from failure.

There’s this notion that convenience driven services like on-demand food deliveries are models only fit for Manila. I proved them wrong.

I always tell my friends to build their own startups. Startups make real change and innovate the things we do everyday. It’s hard but it’s worth the struggle. You get to learn everything first hand. You’ll get to understand how great companies started and failed. I want people to understand that failure is inevitable because it’s not about your failure, it’s about how you get back up.



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