Born to a family of successful businessmen trading in international consumer goods, entrepreneurship is pretty much ingrained in Tommanny Tan’s DNA. He grew up in a household where children are taught to study hard to become successful one day.
Tommanny’s parents, Manuel and Anita Tan, were in the business of supplying hardware, electrical items, and small appliances to some of the leading hardware and department stores in the country. Meanwhile, Dennison, his brother, is an international IT consultant servicing government financial institutions, while his sister, Tennille, is a medical research doctor developing new drugs for a global pharmaceutical firm.
Soon after Tommanny graduated with a Computer Science degree from the De La Salle University in 1990. He also took up a master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management in 2007.
For a while, he worked as a programmer before taking over his family’s importation and flat iron manufacturing business where, under his watch, productivity improved exponentially. After Tom saw the stability of their family venture, he decided to step down and focus on his own venture, first with FERN, Inc., popularly known for FERN-C and now I-FERN, a multilevel marketing company known for health and wellness products such as FERN-D and FERN ACTIV.
In this CHiNOY TV exclusive interview, get to know more about Tommanny as he talks about business, dealing with the effects of the pandemic, organizing a grocery-like community pantry, and what he appreciates most about being Chinoy.
How is the business going for I-FERN?
“Despite the ongoing pandemic, I-FERN continues to thrive because we offer health and wellness products that help in boosting the immunity. Aside from in-demand products, people are looking for ways to earn an income during the pandemic. I-FERN has given them a chance not only to survive but to succeed during these trying times.”
How do you keep the business running despite the ongoing pandemic?
“Because of the pandemic, the rules of business have changed. From stadium events, we shifted to holding activities through Facebook and Zoom. By turning to digital marketing and online selling during the pandemic, more Filipinos had a chance to explore and join the I-FERN Business.
In terms of products, people are now aware of how important a stronger immunity is against the pandemic. Our Power Trio is very much in demand at the moment. It is composed of FERN-D, a vitamin D brand that won the World Branding Awards in Kensington Palace, UK twice, MilkCa, which contains calcium from cow’s milk, and FERN ACTIV, which has B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and Zinc.”
Can you tell us more about the I-FERN community pantry?
“The I-FERN community pantry was spearheaded by my wife Kim together with friends. The RBA restaurant in Taytay was our first venue before we expanded to cover other cities such as Tanay, Binangonan, Antipolo, and soon in Biñan, Laguna. I-FERN Leaders donate funds and organize volunteers from their teams while RBA employees help prepare and set up the community grocery in each location and take care of logistics.
Part of the I-FERN Mission is to share prosperity. With people losing jobs and struggling to make ends meet, individuals who have the opportunity to earn more should step up and help those in need. Those who take part in the I-FERN business continue to succeed financially during the quarantine, and we feel that we should fulfill our mission to our fellow Filipinos in our own ways.”
What do you think is the formula to becoming successful as an entrepreneur?
“To succeed in business, you have to set your mind on your goals and must be willing to dedicate your time, skills, and knowledge to reach them. In I-FERN, we believe in the concept of hard work and the daily [grind]. Do you want to have a better life as an entrepreneur? Then dream bigger and work better. Only then can you level up in your business.”
What are you most proud of as a Chinoy?
“In my heart, I am a Filipino, but I carry with me the teachings of [being] Chinese, which is why the value of entrepreneurship is very strong in my blood and my children. As a Filipino, I am delighted to impart the Chinese wisdom passed to me by my parents, grandparents, and business mentors to Filipinos, especially to I-FERN members.”
For those who dream of pursuing entrepreneurship, what advice can you give?
“If you want to prosper in this industry, you need to put value in hard work and the daily grind. Never set limits on your skills and capabilities. Always continue to learn because learning is a never-ending process.”
Are you also an entrepreneur despite the pandemic? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.