From humble beginnings, being a restaurant mascot and a margarita shaker in a Mexican restaurant, Marvin evolved into one of the most influential celebrities maintaining successful careers as a TV/movie personality, restaurateur, and entertainment producer.
These successful ventures made him one of the finalists to this year’s Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
A young Marvin may have accepted the fact that he has been born to financially-challenged family, but the dreamer in him prevailed and defied all odds to make someone of himself.
When he was in High School, he worked both as a video store attendant and a restaurant mascot. Then, in College, he mastered the art of “margarita shaking” in a Mexican Restaurant.
With his exposure to this industry, a young Marvin wanted to conquer the food industry. However, fate had other plans for him.
He, then, was discovered and with his good looks and apparent charm, he found his way to showbiz, where he established himself as one of the most enduring actors of his generation.
While doing showbiz, he, however, did not forget his initial passion for the food industry. He decided to study at the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management, graduating in 2004. He also took up the Managing Arts Program at the Asian Institute of Management to help augment his knowledge in business and entrepreneurship.
Mr. Agustin then decided to venture into the restaurant business with friends Raymund Magdaluyo and Ricky Laudico and developed several restaurant concepts. His first establishment was SumoSam, which opened in 2005 at the Shangri-la Plaza mall.
“We thought of putting up a casual-dining Japanese restaurant because at that time there was none in the mall,” says the young restaurateur. “The restaurant offers a fusion of Japanese and American cuisine, served in hearty portions but kept at an affordable price range.”
Since 2005, SumoSam has grown to 11 branches around the city. He is looking to expand through a franchising model, with the goal of having 25 branches by end-2012.
In addition to SumoSam, Marvin also opened Mr. Kurosawa, John and Yoko, Johnny Chow, Robotosan and Marciano’s.
He says one of the most important challenges of running a restaurant business is maintaining customer relations.
Asked about how he deals with challenging customers, he says, “We just do our best to provide the best service possible. We listen to what our customers have to say.”
Marvin claims that he is not in the market to compete with other restaurants but to deliver the best possible food and service.
“My employees are trained to provide the customers with very personal service,” Marvin explains. “I tell them that our customers are our bosses.”
This focus on customer satisfaction has resulted in awards such as the Best Operations award from the Ayala Merchant Awards in 2009 and Most Promising restaurant in 2008 for John and Yoko. Mr. Kurosawa in Eastwood, Libis was named one of Philippine Tatler’s best restaurants in 2009.
Employee development is something very important to Marvin, given that he was once a restaurant service crew member himself. He says, “It is my personal responsibility to develop the skills of my employees and help them reach their goals.”
Marvin did not allow the poverty and challenges of his childhood to determine the course of his life; instead, he used his determination and passion to overcome them. He credits his success to the chances he took and always reminds his employees, “don’t be afraid to take risks, because without risks, life wouldn’t have breakthroughs.”
He also says mistakes are part of the learning process. All the experiences he underwent made him who he is today.
To aspiring entrepreneurs, he offers this piece of advice: “Do not do it for the money. Do it for the people.”
Tapping his experience in media, he also established two production companies, Futuretainment, Inc., credited for presenting successful local concerts by international artists such as Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Black-Eyed Peas and Maroon 5, and is into entertainment production and MediaNation, which is into Talent Management.
The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2012 is a program of the SGV Foundation, Inc. with co-presenters De La Salle University, Department of Trade and Industry, Development Bank of the Philippines, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Philippine Stock Exchange and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. BusinessWorld will be featuring each of this year’s finalists.
The winners will be announced on Oct. 18, 2012 in an awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 in Monte Carlo, Monaco, in June 2013. The Entrepreneur Of The Year is produced globally by Ernst & Young.