This Three-Time High School Kick-Out Now Has 50 Branches of His Own Company
Felipe Zamora III did not obtain a high school diploma. In fact, he flunked out of school for four consecutive years and was booted out by three different high schools in Manila.
It wasn’t because he wasn’t bright, Zamora says. He always loved mathematics and literature, but would rather daydream in other subjects. He would also skip school to hang out with friends or to practice his favorite sport, mixed martial arts.
With the encouragement of his mother, Zamora decided to take the Philippine Educational Placement Test, an exam that evaluates a school dropout’s competency to skip the year levels students are normally required to complete. He passed the exam and flew to the United States to get a college degree.
He spent two years in a community college before transferring to the University of San Francisco. It was his stay at a community college that humbled him and made him realize the opportunities he wasted. “You go to school with people who have two jobs. You go to school with people with kids and it’s like, wow what a realization... Then you start having an appreciation for the value of money and work that really changes your perception,” he explains.
Loans in 15 minutes
Now 37, Zamora is no longer spending long hours daydreaming or simply driving around with friends. Instead, the Finance graduate managed to grow Robocash Philippines to 50 branches within one year of operations as its CEO.
Zamora joined the family business in 2009, a few years after coming back from the U.S. He then spent years restructuring the business to a family-owned firm from a family-run corporation. Along the way, he managed to grow Golden Legacy’s portfolio P250 million when he joined the firm to P1.6 billion.
In 2016, Zamora was thinking about diversifying GLFC’s products. “Unregistered lenders started broadening at how we look at the competitive landscape, and we started thinking how
That same year an acquaintance introduced him to
The next year, Zamora started negotiations with Sedov to bring Robocash to the Philippines.
Going up against other players
Zamora was optimistic there was a demand for payday loans in the Philippines. But he was still a bit wary of entering a market that had many competitors ranging from banks, digital lenders and informal lenders. High delinquency rates, which could topple any lending company rates, was also a concern.
“The fact that there was a take up in the product in several countries means there was a demand for it. So, that we were sure. But how well it will be received here, that was the question,” he adds.
Zamora decided to bite the bullet and brought Robocash to the Philippines. He initially wanted to place Robocash under his family business as part of its diversification strategy. But he later decided to put together some local shareholders who would co-own Robocash Philippines with Sedov’s team and operate Robocash Philippines separately from GFLC.
In September 2017,
He gave orders to his management team to work closely with data scientists to figure out the local market and coordinate with the mother company in Russia constantly to ask for guidance. It also helped that his team decided to place the branches in high traffic locations, mostly in train stations and supermarkets.
ROI in one year
Much to his surprise, the business grew faster than he had anticipated. “The initial plan was to open just two branches a month. It was just we were really convinced we will figure out the market and make tweaks as necessary.”
Within a year, Zamora realized his return on investment and already had 50 branches.
But Zamora is not one to rest his laurels as he intends for Robocash Philippines to hit the 200-store mark by the end of 2019 and reach P1.1 billion in sales. He is also working with his team to beef up the firm’s online lending, which has only been contributing roughly 10 percent to the company’s revenue pie. He is optimistic the firm will grow even bigger within the year and meet its targets.
“My team and I set goals for ourselves that will stretch us to our limits. For us, this is as much about our development as a team as it is about the numerical targets we’ve set for ourselves. We’ve had a slow start (in entering the market) but it’s motivated us to push even harder. We’re just competitive that way. If we do not hit the mark completely I’m sure we’ll be pretty close,” Zamora concludes.
Cherrie Regalado is a contributor to Esquire Magazine Philippines. Follow her on Twitter @cherrieregalado