Business process outsourcing (BPO), or call center in layman’s term, is one of the leading industry here in the Philippines. The said country has even surpassed India as the largest BPO industry in the world. As the Philippines is known for its countrymen’s genial demeanor, it is no wonder that the Filipinos are the go-to guys for such services.
Pio Granada foresaw such burgeoning industry even before the advent of its popularity. As a result, he published the first and longest running call center/IT-BPO trade and lifestyle magazine in the Philippines: After Call magazine.
His interest in the BPO industry transcends the said magazine. He also organizes events for the said industry and magazine advertisers.
When asked what was his personal reasons for pursuing such career, he said that he was highly into personal development. He believed in living life to the fullest, in striving to be his very best self in all possible dimensions. He modestly claimed that he was not yet successful in the said endeavors, and as such, he considered himself a work in progress. He believed that he had a lot to learn in his lifetime. True to a successful man’s wisdom; there is always room for growth no matter how successful you are.
When questioned what motivated him to put up his business, he said that seven years ago, he and his business partner saw the high growth in the BPO industry. They became conscious of the fact that the youth was flocking into this industry that needed much employment. The industry was creating a new middle class in the socio-economic strata. They also found out that the industry was dynamic, exciting and had a youthful vibe to it—almost as if it was an extension of college life, only, in this instance, people had more money to burn. And so they saw this as an opportunity that needed storytelling.
The product was the said magazine. In the early days, Pio and his business partner decided not to get a huge backer for the magazine, since they prudently advised to each other that they should have full control of the said publication. For getting the fund, they started by investing Pio’s separation pay from his previous job. Afterwards, they capitalized the rest from other people. After the funding was settled, they structured the business plan, website, and mock issue of the magazine. Thereafter, they presented those and the return on investment (ROI) plan to investors. It took them a year to pull the said act off. Even though the people they approached in the first round of funding were relatives and friends, they still sensibly made a back-up plan of making a business loan in case that their prospect backers didn’t push.
When asked what were the top three skills one needed to be successful in his line of business, he answered with much brevity. He concisely said, “marketing, selling, and networking.”In terms of the most crucial things he had done to grow his business, he answered that to always make sure one must maintain a game changer’s disposition and good relationship with one’s target audience. As for the game changing plan, he mentioned that starting off to publish the said magazine was already a game changer. During the time they released the first issue, the publication didn’t seem to connect with the grass roots of the industry. As a resolution, they employed freelance writers from the said industry itself; staying true to what was intended for the publication: by the BPO people for the BPO people. The said resolution significantly made the magazine more relatable to the intended target audience. The next game changer plan he employed was to do call center caravans for their advertisers to help them promote their brands in the form of mini-events and such. Conclusively, he noted that maintaining a good relationship with the BPO people allowed him and his business partner to distribute the magazine and execute BPO office events effortlessly. To maintain the relationship, Pio gave recognitions to the BPO crowd by doing interviews with the employees and their executives. Then, he did press releases from the said interviews.
The quintessential workaholic, Pio’s typical day is usually filled with meetings: meetings with clients, potential clients, BPO partners, and people involved with the production of the magazine.
When asked what were the three pieces of advice he would give to budding entrepreneurs, his answers were unadulterated. First, one must be sure of his passion for the business. Second, one must take the huge risk of investing to one’s personal company. He noted that—if the cards were played right—the result would always be satisfying and make a person look back and say, “the investment would have been in vain had I given up.” He said that this thought would make a person motivated in the days of burnout and sporadic indifference to the industry. Lastly, one must know when to be a risk-adverse or risk-taker. He mentioned that some days will come down to knowing when to make a bet or not. A great forethought in finding the balance between when to be a risk-taker and risk-adverse is the key.
For the single most important decision he had made that led to the success of his business, Pio answered that he implemented call center tours and integrated them into the media values he offered to the advertisers.
Pio’s parting words were insightful as expected from a visionary. Currently, he takes on a more inactive role in the business as he is looking for other challenges that will still help his magazine business. He also intends to expand into digital publishing. To those who want to follow in his footsteps, his advice was to find the right partners and never stop innovating. Truly, the words of a true visionaire extraordinaire.