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How This Pinay Entrepreneur Became the Founder of a Japanese Start-up

It’s a leap of faith to start a business as a budding entrepreneur, but it definitely takes a lot of guts to start a company in a different country as a foreigner. This is the inspiring story of Mimi Dumalaog, a Pinay businesswoman who’s now a founder of a Japanese start-up.

Mimi started her life in the business world with her very own online business featuring resin art. In an interview with WhenInManila.com, she revealed that she came from a family of teachers and farmers, so starting a business seemed like a distant possibility until it actually happened.

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Photo from Mimi Dumalaog

Her small business, kamilas4amart, was one of the first to bring flower-themed resin art to the local online world. (Read more about it here.)

As Mimi learned how to grow and market her business through social media, it led her to start a new company that would help other small businesses utilize social media marketing in a more accessible and convenient way.

The gateway to bigger things

In 2022, Mimi (along with her business partner and real-life partner Harry) launched kamilas4am, a start-up company that allows business owners to get short-form videos and user-generated content (UGC) for their own social media pages with just a few clicks!

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Photo from kamilas4am

The inspiration came after I opened and operated my own online small business. I struggled a lot especially since I am not well-versed in social media marketing,” Mimi shares. “We want to help small business owners succeed by supporting their social media marketing.”

Just a few months after their launch, kamilas4am already has a community of more than 500 content creators who have created hundreds of short-form videos for small businesses all over the country. Many investors have also said that they are years ahead and that they are actually pioneering something very new in the Asian market.

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Photo from kamilas4am

While they are mostly helping Filipino businesses, they got support from the Japanese government through their incubation program. This meant that the Japanese government provides them with the necessary tools to build kamilas4am, such as mentors, investor meet-ups, and even a free office!

They got this tremendous support simply because they took a chance.

We never really expected it since we applied to the program when what we only have was an idea. There was no product and there was no paying client. It was just an idea we think is worth pursuing,” she reveals. “I guess that’s a lesson in itself. Sometimes, you just gotta take a chance.”

Not always rainbows and butterflies

While the start-up has been consistently growing since its launch, it hasn’t always been a journey of victories.

Mimi shares that, once, a middle-aged Japanese man actually screamed at her in a public restaurant, saying that she was wasting time and investors’ money.

He never really verbalized it but I know that all his doubt is stemming from the fact that I am a woman and a foreigner daring to operate a Japanese startup,” she admits.

Being a foreigner in an unfamiliar country was already hard as it was, and Mimi says that being a woman made it even more difficult: “As a woman daring to run a company, I need to prove my worth every single time I speak.”

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Photo from Mimi Dumalaog

Even with these undoubtedly heartbreaking moments of rejection, Mimi pushed on to become the CEO she is now. She says that one of the biggest lessons she learned on this journey of being a businesswoman is that rejection is the first step.

For the future generation of women founders

Mimi and her company have gone through a variety of transformations, beginning with the small art business she worked on at 4 in the morning to the start-up they have now. But she’s not about to slow down anytime soon.

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Photo from Mimi Dumalaog

She shares that the unicorn company is just the first step for her.

In the future, I also want to have my own investment firm focusing on investing in the potential of other Filipina founders. As I mentioned, our success means a better chance for success for the future generation of women founders.”

To women entrepreneurs

To Pinays who are also building their businesses and companies, here’s what Mimi has to say:

If there is something I want someone to take away from my story: it’s the need to have the audacity.

Have the audacity to dream. If you are born as an “outsider” of the world you are trying to enter (eg business world), you need to have the audacity to take a space and fight for a seat at the time

[…]

As a woman, you need to be more audacious. You need to take more space. 

There will be times when people will doubt you simply because you are a woman. There will be times people will say “you are too much” because you dare dream. 

Don’t let them get to you. They are just noise. Focus on your goal because your success means the success of the future generation of women entrepreneurs.

And if you’re a woman business owner who wants to learn and grow with fellow businesswomen, Mimi invites you to connect with her on Instagram: @kamilas4am_mimi.

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