On a casual Sunday during the first Enhanced Community Quarantine in 2020, Irene Sytat told her children that she was craving something sweet, but since no one was allowed to go out for anything other than basic necessities, and a lot of the stores were closed, they didn’t exactly know where to get them. On a whim, the Sytat siblings decided to make polvoron, pastillas, and yema at home, and upon trying it, Irene suddenly recalled that her eldest children, Lance and Linnel, used to sell homemade sweets outside their family office in Binondo. She suggested they should make some more of these sweets and turn it into an online business. The Sytat siblings were enticed by the idea and began talking about branding and advertising later that night. This was the start of Yummy2Tummy.
Linnel Sytat is the CEO, and she is currently a 4th year BS Psychology student at De La Salle University. She runs it with her older brother Lance, a graduate of BS Industrial Design at De La Salle St. Benilde, who serves as the general manager and marketing manager, along with her younger siblings Lex is the Chief Operating Officer, and Linnea is the Chief Production Officer, both of whom are still students of Saint Jude Catholic School.
Linnel describes Yummy2Tummy as a small food enterprise dedicated to putting only the yummiest to the tummies of people from all walks of life. Its main goal is to be an instrument of compassion that would allow it to become one of the most valuable humanitarian startups in the Philippines. Some of their best-known products are chicken longganisa, churro bits, banana muffins with streusel, blueberry & strawberry cheesecake, and cheese pastillas (which also comes in strawberry, pandan, and langka).
All their products are homemade, which makes the business quite hectic, with each sibling also occupied with either school or work. Linnel shares that their day typically starts at 7:30am, with her, Lex and Linnea attending online classes, while Lance goes to work. They only get to work on Yummy2Tummy at the end of the day, but it’s not exactlly a relaxing activity, since they have to do production, inventory, encoding, and other administrative tasks. Still, Linnel describes it as an overwhelming yet fulfilling experience, as it further strengthens their bond as siblings.
“Given the rise of online businesses in the previous two years, I believe what distinguishes Yummy2Tummy from the rest is that its founders are siblings that still try their best to talk things out whenever conflict arises. Because according to some stories from different Chinese families, siblings who work on their family enterprises frequently have problems, rivalries, fights or misunderstandings, which may eventually affect their relationship with each other. Although having misunderstandings are inevitable, we make sure to talk things out and never sleep with a heavy heart.”
Given that they have a lot on their plate, some might think it’s too early for them to start a business, but their business-oriented mindset has always been a big part of their upbringing. Linnel describes her family as traditional. They drink Pei Pa Koa to relieve coughs and colds. They are far too familiar with Gloria Maris and Choi Garden due to the countless celebrations they held there–not to mention that their parents’ wedding song is the Chinese love song “Yue Liang Dai Piao Wo De Xin.” And these Chinoy traditions are typically also accompanied by Chinoy teachings on money.
“Our family is strict when it comes to dealing with money, especially with common stories that we hear from older Chinoys or even from our angkong, amah, tai kong, and tai ma about their “rags to riches” journey. So our background influenced our decision to start a business because our family motivated us to earn money as early as now and let that hard-earned money grow even more by investing in another thing as well.”
The Sytat siblings accomplished a rare feat by starting a business during the pandemic and keeping it running up until today, but their biggest achievement was starting a project entitled Yummy2TummyCares. Its main mission is to share blessings with others, and the Sytat siblings put this into practice by communities by providing food, school supplies, and health supplies to marginalized communities. To date, Yummy2TummCares has partnered with beneficiaries such as the Chinese General Hospital, Sta. Teresita Hospital, and Children’s Joy Foundation and many more.
“To be honest, we consider this a success because giving and sharing our blessings using our own hard-earned money without expecting to be compensated hits differently. And seeing the smiles of people from the organizations or beneficiaries to whom we have donated to makes us feel like our efforts have paid off and melt our hearts,” Linnel says.
Starting a business at an early age might seem daunting and even improbable, but Linnel believes that others, even students like her, can do it too. “The two best advice I can share for starting and managing a business is first: Go for it and take the risk because life is too short. Remember, it is better to live a life full of ‘oh wells’ than a life full of ‘what ifs.’”
“And second, remember the quote ‘it is not what you are getting, rather, it is what you are becoming that matters.’ To make it simpler, for example, in business–of course your goal is to earn money and make a profit. However, what I’m saying here is that it is not always about money. Yes, money matters. Money is important because that’s the reason why you started the business in the first place, right? But what matters more is the values, lessons, and experiences you will gain throughout your journey.Because you instill these values, lessons, and experiences within you, you will be able to build a better character and a better version of yourself. And then money will follow,” Linnel pointed out.
You can follow Yummy2Tummy on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. You can also contact them through their email firstname.lastname@example.org and cellphone number 09667227177.