Running a business in the middle of a pandemic isn’t for the faint-hearted. With the restrictions and restless consumers, entrepreneurs have to be quick on their feet to survive much less make a profit. This didn’t stop 24-year-old Pam Jacobe from establishing her ready-to-drink brand Perk Up Coffee & Tea.
A business administration graduate of Mapúa University, Jacobe always dreamed of having a coffee farm and shop. She studied it in-depth and started selling coffee grounds and beans in 2019. Months before the pandemic, she rebranded and changed her products to bottled coffee and tea lattes after noticing a gap in the market.
“I saw an opportunity and joined the #CafeAtHome movement which encourages people to bring home the cafe experience. Friends and former colleagues supported my business, and it started to gain traction,” Jacobe recalled.
To connect with customers, she relied on social media advertising and word-of-mouth marketing. “The pandemic made people more supportive of micro-, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), specifically small online businesses. I grabbed that opportunity and dedicated my time on digital marketing strategies,” the youthful entrepreneur explained.
But the real catalysts of Perk Up Coffee and Tea’s success were its compelling advocacies and quality products. Aside from helping customers recreate a coffee shop experience at home, it imparts a strong sense of community with the causes it advocates.
Jacobe explained that Perk Up’s main advocacy is being environment-friendly, so all drinks are served in reusable glass bottles and eco-bags.
“I want to make sure that my brand is doing its part to lessen plastic wastes. Imagine the hundreds of drinks I sell in one month. If I use plastic bottles, that’s already 100 plastic bottles gone to waste.”
She naturally advocates the exquisite taste and variety of Philippine coffee and uses locally sourced teas. One of which is the Kalinga Robusta dark roast beans which she uses because of its low acidity, and nutty and earthy notes. It’s best tasted in her best-selling caffeinated Cold Brew Concentrate and French Vanilla Latte. While her Strawberries & Cream and Hazelnut Chocolate are caffeine-free hits.
Refocusing on goals
While business has been brisk, there were times when she was met with people’s doubts. Instead of being discouraged, Pam used these obstacles to refocus on her purpose and goal. She gives credit to her college education for preparing her for the challenging road ahead.
“I will always be grateful for the holistic education that I received from Mapúa. They trained us not just to be employees, but to be leaders and trailblazers in whatever industry we chose. Mapúa taught me to be diligent, strive for excellence, and never settle for ‘half-baked’ results,” she explained.
Jacobe was trained to pursue continuous learning and improvement. It’s no wonder that she is doing research and development on non-dairy options and new flavors to expand her product line. She also encourages other aspiring entrepreneurs to take the big leap.
“Don’t be afraid to start from nothing. Enjoy the fact that you’re literally starting from the bottom and have nothing to lose if you try. Your dreams are planted in your heart for a reason. You owe it to yourself to give it a try.”