It’s a sad fact, but many people were laid off during the pandemic. One of these people was 27-year-old Kenneth Panlilio, former HR Team Lead of a company he was with for almost four years. As happy as he was to have a stable job at the onset of the pandemic, his company eventually had to reduce its resources. As part of the company’s employee redundancy policy, Kenneth received his separation pay and decided to do what he was initially scared of when he had a stable job: start a full-time business venture.
Kenneth’s redundancy pay served as his initial capital in putting up his first store. “I was thinking it could be fate’s funny way of forcefully pushing me to this path,” he shares. “To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure whether I was ready to gamble if stability was still an option.” Kenneth’s brand is called Otzu Takoyaki – Otzu because 8 symbolizes infinity and abundance for him, while the letters T and Z made it sound more Japanese.
Kenneth opened his first store in September 2020 in a Talipapa market in Quezon City – a beautifully strategic spot where most establishments were out of business at the time. “Truly in the right place and the right time,” he reminisces.
Although he was incredibly anxious during the launch – there was a global pandemic, after all! – Kenneth shares that he was astonished by the customer response since then. “We were able to sustain and exceed our projected sales to the point where we were having a hard time catering to the demand for our product,” he shares. This is the reason why they decided to expand and open the brand for franchising. Fast forward to today, Otzu Takoyaki has 10 operating stores and is expected to open more stores in the coming months. So inspiring!
Beyond starting his own business, Kenneth is also happy that he is able to help other people by hiring them as their staff every time they expand. “We all know the struggle to land a job during these challenging times and we can’t be more grateful that we are blessed to be able to give opportunities to people,” he beams. “For me, that is my biggest win.”
Kenneth’s story proves that in every disaster comes opportunity. “Whenever it seems that things are about to go South, East and West is always an option. We just have to be resilient and be creative on how we can turn an unfavorable situation to our advantage,” he says.
So, why takoyaki? Kenneth explains that the production cost for takoyaki is very affordable. Plus, it is currently gaining popularity in the country and there were only a handful of brands in the takoyaki business locally when they opened. Kenneth is proud to say that Otzu Takoyaki is generally different from other brands in terms of quality and affordability. “All of our important ingredients and secret recipes are being produced in-house, which guarantee unique taste and quality,” he explains.
If you love takoyaki, then make sure to try Otzu Takoyaki. They have in-store delivery riders assigned to cater deliveries within the area where the branch is located. Just visit their Facebook page to place your orders. For long-distance delivery, you may also find them on Grab and Lalamove.
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