MANILA, Philippines—Setting up a business in the Philippines brings with it a whole truckload of headaches such as searching an office location, applications for permits and licenses, and the establishment of connectivity lines, all of which require a lot of time and money.
For start-up businesses and entrepreneurs, the task of establishing themselves in the market may seem very daunting, however, recently launched vOffice (virtual office) Philippines Inc, is offering “Office-as-a-service” for them so they can kick-start their business.
“The primary advantage of the virtual office is really about the cost and how fast you can have an office set up,” Albert Goh, Founder and CEO of vOffice Philippines Inc., said during the formal launching of their office in Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
“With a traditional office, to set up one office you have to go identify your building, [do] renovation, [apply for] permits and stuff like that which could easily take two months,” he said. “But with virtual office it’s like you can have an office within 24 hours or even less than a day.”
Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the primary target market of vOffice, can pay monthly rates to have their permits processed, their telephone and fax lines connected, their calls and mail received or forwarded, and be able to utilize the meeting and function rooms of the vOffice center in BGC.
Business owners can even subscribe to bookkeeping, accounting, audit, taxation, video conference, graphic and web design services of vOffice, among others.
Goh said he got the idea for vOffice while he was a working student in college taking up Commerce in Melbourne, Australia back in 2003.
He started a carwash business by himself and needed the help of someone to answer business calls for him while he was attending his classes. From there he started the vOffice business which grew and now has 22 locations across 10 countries in Asia, Australia, and Europe.
Goh said he wants to offer their services to MSMEs because they are the ones who really need the most help with their fledgling business.
“We really want to target local startups and young entrepreneurs, maybe because I started vOffice this way as well, and I believe that everyone should have the equal opportunity,” Goh said.
“In the Philippines, if you compare it to other countries for example Malaysia, starting a business is really not easy here, it’s very expensive, and vOffice can bridge that,” he added.
According to 2011 records from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), 99.6 percent or 816,759 out of 820,255 of business enterprises in the country are MSMEs.
Businesses subscribed to vOffice will also be able to have an international reach because potential customers all over the world can contact them at the vOffice locations in the respective countries.
Quick Turn-Key Solution
American Daniel Joseph Falvo, Founder of Lakas Filipinas Inc., a private organization partnered with the Philippine Marine Corps that organizes fund-raising activities that aim to rehabilitate their training grounds, subscribed to vOffice July of 2013.
“Our company is the first private organization that is partnered with the PMC and we organize events with the proceeds [going to the] rehabilitation projects for the marine training grounds and other various projects,” Falvo said in an interview.
Falvo organized the recent “Karera Lakas Pilipinas” race in which participants will go through the actual obstacle course used by the Philippine Marines for their training.
“We needed a quick turn-key solution for our corporation. Our race was August 25 and we needed to have an office address to satisfy the mayors’ permit, the BIR receipts so we could get the donors and sponsors for our event,” Falvo said.
“vOffice enabled us to set up our business address in less than 24 hours, we were able to save quite a lot of money and appropriate it to where it was intended to go,” he said.
If they had gone through the traditional process of setting up a physical office, it would have taken him a lot of money and a lot of time, which could have affected the organization of the race, he said.
“[We needed to do this] in a way in which all the money isn’t going to setting up the office, we needed this money to go where this is intended for and it’s for the rehabilitation of the marine bases, it’s for the marine corps,” Falvo said.
“We were able to get our race up and running and it was a huge success, with approval for another run, the Commandant’s cup in November, and many more to come,” he said.
Goh said that the Philippines has great potential in the virtual office market because of the many professionals in the country who need help in establishing their business.
“I think there is a great opportunity for vOffice in the Philippines because there are a huge number of knowledge [professionals] around who can utilize virtual office to start [their business],” Goh said.
“The standard of living in the Philippines is not cheap [making it difficult] to save up until you can really start a business through traditional means [which] is going to be very costly,” he said.