Award-winning and self-made entrepreneur Avin Ong has taken the local food industry by storm by becoming one of the successful business leaders in the industry and a role model for young entrepreneurs. He is the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of the Fredley Group of Companies that has 200 branches nationwide and more than 2,000 employees. The Fredley Group includes Macao Imperial Tea, New York Fries & Dips, Nabe Japanese Izakaya and Hot Pot, and more.
One has an MBA degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and ESSCA – Ecolé de Management in Budapest, Hungary, an honors degree from De La Salle University, and global experience with Deutsche Bank. The 29-year-old entrepreneur was also recognized as an Injap Sia Outstanding Young Entrepreneur in 2018 and an Entrepreneur of the Year during the Asia CEO Awards 2020.
But all that success came after he rose from humble beginnings and a life filled with struggles. At the young age of seven, he had to pack and assemble hangers just to help out his poor family make a living, as well as tutor himself. He even dabbled in the F&B industry as early as high school, selling fruit shakes at the nearby wet market. With all these experiences, knowing what it’s like to be at the bottom, he has chosen to create a business empire that takes on various advocacies and tries to make a difference.
“As a scholar since kindergarten, I know how difficult life is when you don’t have money,” Ong shared. “I am forever grateful for those who invested in my education, and I want to pay it forward, especially now that I am able. I know that there are kids, who are just like me, who deserve a chance to study and make their own dreams come true.”
Under Ong’s leadership, his franchises have become a huge success in a matter of six years, providing educational scholarships to less-fortunate kids and catering to creating more than a thousand career opportunities for Filipinos, including those with disabilities.
Ong shares advice for young entrepreneurs who want to pour their heart into what they do:
1. Practice tough love.
“I believe that being tough with yourself can be a loving gesture,” Ong said. “Every day, our lives are dictated by our own choices, and we must always choose to keep on working hard towards our goals and be a responsible business leader. These days, it gets so easy to find ourselves distracted with the most random things, but if we exercise a certain discipline on ourselves, it will really help us recognize the importance of what we’re working for.”
2. It’s okay to be scared.
“A lot of people think that being scared is a sign of weakness,” Ong said. “However, I personally believe that it’s a much more common situation for entrepreneurs. It’s normal to worry about decisions that can impact our business. It’s okay to be scared because fear is part of pushing yourself to be better, and we cannot level up if we don’t take enough risks.
3. Leave your emotions at the door.
“On a daily basis, we go through a truckload of emotions,” Ong said. “It really just comes with the life of an entrepreneur. Our emotions are always inevitably challenged, but we must not let [them] influence us. We have our responsibilities, and as a business leader, those always come first.”
4. Don’t fall into a routine.
“With life in general, and especially in business, it is so important that we never stop learning,” Ong sharedd. “We should always be on the lookout for everything that’s happening around us, and adapt to the pace. Go out, expand your network and learn from them as well. By doing this, you are not only keeping your mind churning, but you are also escaping routine.”
5. Keep your feet on the ground.
“There’s also this thought that by establishing my own company, I can continue giving back by being able to provide jobs and opportunities to as many people as possible.”
He added that it’s important to stay humble regardless of one’s success.
“The perfect way to balance your work and advocacies is to keep your feet on the ground. Look back on all the support you had on your journey, and reflect on their impact to who you are today. Never forget where you came from, and always be reminded to give back to honor those who have helped you.”
For more advice from modern tao kes, check out our articles on leading and up-and-coming Chinoy entrepreneurs here.