A self-admitted accidental entrepreneur who feels guilty about taking holidays, Jeffrey Siy wants to turn Galleon into the go-to site for Filipinos wanting to buy hard-to-get overseas products.
With the slogan “Buy products that are not available in the Philippines” , Galleon intends to become one of the bigger players in the surging e-commerce market in Southeast Asia. With products ranging from fashion, electronics, to musical instruments, the future looks promising for this already profitable startup.
Human Asia talks to Jeffrey, the founder of Galleon, exclusively.
Tell us about the beginning. Why Galleon?
The idea started when a friend of my partner at Awesome.ph called me to see if I was interested in doing an e-commerce website. I said it was too broad of an idea so we had to refine it in order to offer something different. We sat down and tried to understand why people go to US online shops and purchase there. We discovered two reasons: it was cheaper (including shipping and taxes), or we don’t have it here in the Philippines. We decided to pursue the latter because it offered a more unique selling proposition plus it won’t hurt the existing licensed distributors here.
Tell us more about “products that are not available in the Philippines” slogan.
It mostly comes from the USA but as we all know China suppliers are also selling to USA now so it’s mostly from both countries. There are also other products coming from elsewhere in the world like Asia and Europe. We have all kinds of products on the site. Almost anything on Amazon is on Galleon.ph. So long as it’s not restricted to ship, we can ship the items to the Philippines.
Are you a marketplace, or do you carry inventory?
We are not a marketplace but are currently experimenting it with some local distributors. We don’t keep inventory on stock as items are bought as customers purchase them from Galleon.ph.
What expansion plans do you have for Galleon?
We plan to provide our technology and service across Asia so we can become one of the bigger players in cross-border commerce. We are not actively seeking investment but are open to any interested investor. We have been bootstrapping the company since we started and are proud of it as we are already profitable considering the difficult market we are in.
Tell us more about the culture at Galleon for those looking to work for you.
We are very casual here both to our customers and inside the company. Although we don’t provide those fancy luxuries some known startups have, we make it up with a good atmosphere, activities and celebrations so long as the company is healthy.
Tell us about your childhood, and what you did prior to starting
I had an average childhood. Both grandparents are well know business men in the Filipino Chinese community. After college I started getting involved with blogging (boy-kuripot.com), then I got interested with everything related to digital marketing. I then co-founded a group buying site called Awesome.ph, which failed miserably but in exchange my knowledge in e-commerce grew. From there I shifted my time and effort into galleon.ph.
Did you always know you were going to be an entrepreneur?
As a college student, I’ve always thought about starting a business but didn’t have an idea what to try as a first business. I guess e-commerce found me somehow. I’m motivated simply by growth hacking, doing experiments to see what would work. I’m also motivated by the people and team I work with. I can see how much effort they are putting in to make the business grow, and it’s up to me to guide the company in the right direction.
What passion outside of Galleon do you have ?
I love traveling but feel guilty every time I leave the office. I’m an avid movie-goer of all film types. Anything that makes me feel or think about something.
Define what success means for you personally
I guess success for me is when I feel I can let the business run and continue to grow on its own without me. This would prove that the company culture is heavily embedded to each and every team member in the company.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Work hard but also work smart. Keep on going and trying as every failure is just a learning experience to make you stronger and better.
Visit Galleon at http://www.galleon.ph/