On Demand Deals (ODD): Transforming Empty Spaces into Quick Businesses
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been strikingly clear that unemployment, wage reduction, and working from home were factors that negatively affected both employees and bosses alike. One way or another, the COVID-19 pandemic released its fallout on our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial health. A question that comes to mind would be: “How can one generate extra income during this trying time?” The answer to this would be through On Demand Deals (ODD).
On Demand Deals is a “social commerce company that transforms unused spaces into quick businesses with its cloud convenience stores that deliver in minutes.” Its team is composed of professional, digitally-native, and diverse individuals with expertise in the fields of e-commerce, financial technology, and logistics. With this, why don’t you join me in learning more about On Demand Deals Co-Founder and CEO, Fernando Ramos.
What made you interested in being a startup founder especially in the sectors of e-commerce, logistics, and fintech?
I think it started when I was in college. That was when I started to get fascinated with tech and how quickly it evolved established industries. Back then companies like Uber, Grab, and Lazada were still novel and growing. I definitely saw an opportunity to learn from this and so I started my journey when I established a student organization called ‘UpStart’ which bridged students and startups through job opportunities. The philosophy of the entire organization was “if you want to have your own tech startup in the future, if your goal is to be an entrepreneur, the best thing to do would be to work in a startup first before starting your own”. I was a college student so I didn’t have any expertise, experience, and knowledge so this seemed like the most realistic strategy to get familiar with the scene. I always knew my ‘why’. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to start my own business because I wanted to own my time and I wanted to be my own boss. Despite knowing my ‘why’, I didn’t know my ‘what’ and my ‘how’. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate with, they want to be an entrepreneur but they don’t know what to sell or how to sell it. So I basically just lived the philosophy of the organization that I started. I worked at startups first to gain the skills, experience, and develop myself as a person. That’s why I was blessed to have been able to work for companies like Uber, Zalora, Entrego, and Grab.
Why did you decide to create On Demand Deals? What problems did you want addressed?
I actually started the first On Demand Deals (ODD) store during the pandemic. Frankly I just needed more money and had a lot of unused space. I thought to myself “How could I utilize this space while at the same time generate more profit?” When I started my first ODD store, I worked with a couple of brands and set up my stores on Grab and Food panda. Surprisingly I was able to generate Php 250,000 in sales in my first month without spending on marketing. I then realized that if I can do it in a 3 bedroom condo then anyone else can do it too. It was a very quick realization that a lot of people shared the need for extra income during the pandemic: a lot of people experienced lay-offs, reduced pay, and working from home. With this, creating a very quick business that’s easy to run and scale was really something that I think people need and want. Looking back at my ‘why’, I think a lot of people share the same wants: everyone wants to own their time, everyone wants to be their own boss. Again, as an entrepreneur, you feel empowered that way because you are able to dictate your life the way you want it. That’s the problem we want to solve, we want to grow quick business by empowering entrepreneurs with everything they need. We do this by connecting them to both supply and demand. In terms of supply, we connect people to wholesale supply by working with over a 200+ local and international brands with a 2,000+ products which we provide at wholesale prices and quantities via our ODD Management System. These are the goods that they can sell. At the same time, we also connect them to retail demand via the ODD Store App, Grab and FoodPanda. These are where they can actually sell these goods. For us, it’s about helping these people earn money from their unused space as quickly as possible.
So far, what are the greatest accomplishments and contributions of On Demand Deals?
I’d like to quote Jim Collins in his book Built to Last and how he said that for companies: “Their greatest creation is the company itself and what it stands for”. For me, it all started by recruiting a well-balanced and collaborative founding team: with Gabriel de los Reyes as our Chief Operations Officer and Adarsh Kumar who is our Chief Technology Officer. As a founding team, we recognize each other’s strengths and we complement each other. We also have our weaknesses so we know how to cover each other’s backs. That dynamic which starts at the top, we were able to trickle it down to the bottom. We are very proud that we have been able to create a company of people who are process-oriented, data driven, resourceful, consistently communicating, and who know how to work hard and play hard. Because of this group of amazing people, we have been able to develop our own technology like the ODD Management system, which connects franchises to wholesale supply, and the ODD app which connects franchisees to retail demand. It all starts with a diverse group of people united towards a common goal that you’re able to create an amazing company which we’re proud to call the ODD Family. Because of this, we have been able to create products and services that help people earn extra income from their unused space. For me, that’s our greatest accomplishment.
Where do you see On Demand Deals in the future? Do you have any plans with regards to market and product expansion in the next 5 years?
We really see ourselves as a mix between 7/11 and Airbnb. We’re a mix between the traditional convenience store empowered by technology that allows anyone to be able to do this in the comfort of their own homes. We have plans to empower local sari-sari stores and empower them to evolve into e-commerce. It only makes sense, since what we have been able to create is essentially the online sari-sari store. This is because we not only connect them to the wholesale supply in terms of the brands that we work with, but we are also enabling them to reach more customers via our e-commerce sales channels. For us, it’s really helping these sari-sari stores expand their market and potential. Our goal is to empower these sari-sari stores to be able to compete with established grocery and convenience store chains. If we are able to make sari-sari stores compete in the ‘big leagues’ then that’s something we’re extremely excited to work on. In terms of international market expansion, that’s something we are really keen on working on and we envision empowering Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to earn more money while working abroad. Our blueprint for expansion is really targeting OFWs who work in Southeast Asia. Just think about it, OFWs are working abroad to earn money and OFWs are our biggest export as a country. If we are able to empower them with an ODD store abroad, then they would be able to generate more income for their families. With the goods that we are selling and the higher purchasing power abroad, OFW remittances back to the Philippines will increase. This is ultimately our vision, to have a positive impact on the Philippine economy by empowering anyone, anywhere in the world, to earn extra income. We really see OFWs as the key in terms of expanding internationally.
As a founder yourself, what message do you have for all the other aspiring founders out there?
Firstly, focus on your ‘why’. This is what will keep you motivated and determined throughout the challenging startup journey. No doubt, the startup journey is a tough one. You hear all these great stories online of people getting crazy amounts of funding, but these are usually edge cases. There are a lot of amazing founders out there who are bootstrapping, iterating, and improving. For me, it’s really when you have a very clear ‘why’ that you’re able to stay driven through both the peaks and the valleys. Secondly, work at a startup first. For me, this is what helped me in terms of starting my own startup. It’s really learning from the best companies out there and I’m blessed to have worked with a number of them throughout my career like Uber, Zalora, Entrego, and Grab.. It’s really through these experiences that you gain confidence. Once you are able to learn firsthand, that’s when it becomes practical knowledge. Lastly, work with as many people as you can. In On Demand Deals, we like to work with different types of people. The ODDer you are, the better. If you are able to work with different types of people, then you’re able to incorporate different types of perspectives and you’re able to see the whole more holistically. For me, it’s really by working with a lot of different types of people that you’re able to create something new and special. It’s really about building as many bridges as possible so you can create as big an impact as possible.
Fernando Ramos is the Co-Founder and CEO of On Demand Deals, a social commerce company that transforms unused spaces into quick business with cloud convenience stores that deliver in minutes. He has extensive experience in creating startups that focus on e-commerce, logistics, and fintech. Fernando has utilized his professional and personal growth to create On Demand Deals to help not only himself, but others as well to generate income by quickly creating a business that’s easy to run and scale.
Visit www.techshake.asia if you would like to know and connect more with On Demand Deals.
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