Mother-daughter tandem redefines Makati work style
Georgianna Carlos, a 25-year-old former guidance counselor and public relations account executive, has recently joined her mother’s company in managing virtual offices. Together, they are redefining the office work style in the Philippines and helping budding entrepreneurs, start-up workers and mobile professionals to have a prime business address in Makati City or Fort Bonifacio for as low as P500 a month.
Georgianna says their company, MyOffice, runs boutique offices and virtual space that support the needs of start-up companies, entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals who now embrace the mobile work style to manage their expenses.
“The more technology improves, the more mobile their work style becomes and the more we grow. A lot of people are embracing the mobile culture, the entrepreneurial culture. They need to set up their businesses and we help them,” she says over lunch in Makati City. “No matter where they are, it is as if they are still in the office through our services.”
Georgianna is now in charge of marketing and operations of MyOffice, which was established by her mother Milette Carlos, and her aunt Tina Cuerva in September 2004. The company found a niche in the real estate sector, when it offered office support functions and customized work space to those who could not afford to acquire or rent a whole office.
“So if you work at home and you need people like receptionist to handle your calls, emails, parcels, documents, then we can do these things for you, whether you are in the beach or elsewhere,” says Milette.
“We also have small meeting rooms and some work stations because our members meet their clients or accountants once in a while. They need a base or space,” she says.
Milette, 55, says many entrepreneurs want to register their business and set up shop in a prime location such as Makati or Bonifacio Global City, but after getting the space, they seldom use the office as they are mobile most of the time. “They end up paying thousands of pesos just for the address,” she says.
ilette and her sister established MyOffice’s first facility at the third floor of Builders Center along Salcedo Street in Legaspi Village, Makati City in 2004. “Ten years ago, I was in the trading business, handling the paperwork of suppliers and buyers. I didn’t need an office but I had to set up one, because I didn’t want to be called ‘fly-by-night’. The problem was the delivery and importation was coming only three times a year. When there was importation, I and my secretary were very busy. But most of the time, my secretary was doing nothing and I had to pay rent and electricity just the same. I ended up closing the office because I did not want my earnings from one importation to go to rent payment,” she says.
Her sister Tina Cuervo, a hotel consultant, had a similar dilemma. Tina would always use the phones and home equipment of Milette at her residence at San Lorenzo Village, because she had no office of her own.
When they heard about the office space services provided by large foreign companies, they decided to visit a site in Makati but found the offices too large for their needs. “If only I had a smaller space where I could call and have someone receive my stuff, I would not need a big office. So we decided to develop the reception functions or front-office functions, which became the services offered by MyOffice,” says Milette.
Tina initially helped in conceptualizing the business, but eventually decided to become a full-time mother. “I am the one who continued the business,” says Milette.
MyOffice now offers front-end services such as call answering and inquiry handling, message taking and notification, live call transfer, mail log and handling, fax to email, scan to email, calendar management, virtual concierge, personalized greeting and automated phone operator.
Physical space include private offices, work stations, meeting rooms, mailbox-lockers, and shared desks.
Georgianna, who was exposed to various marketing campaigns during her stint at a public relations firm, introduced new concepts that aim to grow the business. She created a system based on the “tingi culture” to address the need of mobile workers.
“Others were really focused on the physical space, but we differentiate by focusing on services that cater to mobile workers,” she says.
Georgianna, who graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2012, served as a guidance counselor at Multiple Intelligence International School and later as a senior account executive at public relations firm EON, where she wrote press releases and created proposals for events and campaigns.
Asked why she decided to join the family business, Georgianna says entrepreneurship runs in the blood. Her mother has other businesses while her father is into real estate development.
“It is a mix of exposure to entrepreneurship while growing up and at the same time, I saw the opportunity of how the business is becoming more relevant as the years progress,” says Georgianna.
Milette says she allowed her daughter to introduce new concepts into the business. “When she came in this year, she made some changes that suit her generation. That’s why subscription is picking up. She is putting a lot now in our business. She is now in charge of remodeling it,” she says.
Georgianna says MyOffice will continue to target its core market of mobile workers. “We expanded and set up two different branches, with focus on mobility, but somewhat different in features. We plan to add another one,” she says.
The three offices have an average size of 100 square meters. MyOffice Makati, the first facility, offers DIY (do-it-yourself) workspace. “It is like making your own office while using our facilities at a certain time,” says Georgianna.
The second center, at the second floor of Zeta Building also along Salcedo St., is called 25D Office and serves as the budget brand of MyOffice. “Our customers really want the simple, no-frills, basic services. We thought of that, because as long as they have the basic, like business address, front-office services, they can get that at a very affordable price. So that is our budget brand,” she says.
Georgianna says members at 25D Office can avail of promo rates of as low as P500 in monthly subscription fees. The subscription fee is P1,000 for the basic services, but the company offers a promo rate of P500 for the budget brand.
The company has recently expanded to Fort Bonifacio where it established MyOffice BGC at the 12th floor of The Trade & Financial Tower at the corner of 7th Ave. and 32nd St.
“We might open another one in Global City--a small, boutique office,” says Georgianna.
Existing customers include events coordinators, writers, journalists, bloggers, freelance contributors, travel agents, travel consultants, lawyers, accountants, trainors, traders, IT professionals, consultants and other mobile workers.
“If you think of any business wherein you don’t need a ‘brick and mortar’ office like this one, you can go to clients, you can meet elsewhere, you can work at home, then those are the types of members that we have,” says Milette.
Georgianna says even the first customers that have grown in size continue to stay with them and employ their services. “There are some who have grown with us. They have been with us since the beginning and are not moving,” she says. “Some of them were start-ups in 2004 and are now no longer start-ups. They are still with us. The nice thing with our members is that if they have grown in size and have sister businesses, they still use our facilities.”
Clients include both foreign and local mobile workers. “We also have clients from other countries who want to set up an office based in the Philippines. We have clients from Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, US, Italy and other European countries,” says Milette.
Milette says for those who need a complete set of facilities and services, MyOffice also offers “pick and mix” packages which members can avail and add on other services as needed.
Currently, MyOffice has a start-up promo rate starting at P500 a month., which allows members to get a prestigious CBD address for business registration, number of hours use of either workstation or a meeting room, Internet, and basic virtual receptionist services such as mail handling, phone answering, and notification.
Filipinos want to be practical and only purchase what they will use. In MyOffice, we give Filipinos this option, which in turn supports their mobile work style. They can continue working anywhere they want without worrying about costs or unused office space,” says Milette.