This Is the Man Who Went From Ex-KFC Worker to Billionaire Tech Tycoon
Nix Nolledo is a natural. At the tender age of 11, he read Fortune Magazine and was the country’s youngest stockbroker. He built his first tech company, Pinoy Exchange, from the ground up using only a few thousands pesos in personal savings. Xurpas, which he established in 2001 with very little capital, is now the largest consumer technology company in the Philippines.
We talked to Nix about what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur, how technology transforms businesses, and the role Endeavor—a global organization that mentors and accelerates promising entrepreneurs—plays in his continued success.
On how he made his decision to strike out on his own.
My first job out of university was as a KFC management trainee at a mall branch. What I had to give up to become an entrepreneur wasn’t really that much. When your opportunity cost is very high, that’s when people tend to shy away. I didn’t really have a security blanket. Neither of my parents were entrepreneurs, there was no business for me to inherit.
On what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur needs to have a lot of courage to venture outside of the safe confines of being a corporate employee. If you look at the statistics, I read that 9 out of 10 businesses close within the first three years. And of those, 9 in 10 are gone after their fifth year, so that’s a one percent success rate. It takes a lot of courage to be part of that one percent.
I believe that a real connection to the consumer, based on empathy, is very helpful. Also, a good business model transcends bad funding and an adverse economic environment. If you have a strong business model, even if the business climate shifts, you will endure, even grow, while your competitors may fail. Choosing the right partners, team members, investors, clients, is very important, too.
On how Endeavor helps entrepreneurs.
Endeavor has over 6,000 extremely successful thought leaders from around the world. One of our businesses is an HR technology company. Through Endeavor I was able to sit beside the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, at a dinner and get his perspective. A few months later he sold his company to Microsoft for 25 billion dollars. That’s one example of where I get to exchange ideas with someone who’s been there several times over, and get his insights on how he sees technology transforming the HR space.
In the same vein, you’ll find a lot entrepreneurs here at Endeavor who are trying to scale their business tenets and want to understand how technology impacts their business. I am able to lend my perspective on how to view technology as an accelerator and disruptor for their space.
On technology’s potential to transform industries.
A lot of people view technology in isolation since there’s the tech industry, but the reality is technology will impact almost every industry. Technology will impact education: the classroom format for learning has been around for hundreds of years. But why put only 40 to 50 people into a single classroom when you can put 100,000 people into a virtual classroom through their phones.
Technology will impact shopping: when you go to a store you are limited by the items displayed in it, but when you’re online there’s no time-space limitations. It opens up cross-border commerce. When you think of finance: only five percent of Filipinos have a credit card, only 20% have a bank account. Why can’t your phone be a bank branch, payment mechanism or wallet?
On harnessing the power of celebrity.
We are majority shareholders in a company called Xeleb. Through social media, everyone is now a media channel. But were not created equally as media channels. I might have 500 followers on Facebook; a celebrity might have 10 million followers. That celebrity’s ability to reach their followers and potentially generate value is immense. If they deliver value to their followers, their followers in turn are willing to provide monetary value in exchange. We’ve layered games over this relationship, since 80% of all Android in-app purchases around the world come from games. Xeleb is a play on that opportunity.