As a startup, we are always interested in meeting fellow entrepreneurs. Their stories, struggles, successes, failures take us on a different journey each time. From tech companies to entrepreneurs heading non-profits, there’s always a lesson to be learned from each one we have met thus far. Their passion and dedication to their craft continues to inspire us (as well as our readers) and we know that their impact is slowly changing the world for the better. One such entrepreneur is Percival Cunanan from Babata New York, one of the producers of one of the best organic and natural care products currently out in the market.
Myrna and Percival Cunanan
We first heard about Percival through a mutual friend of ours who also happens to be one of our most valued clients. Percival, along with his wife, Myrna Cunanan, are the founders of Babata New York . A Software Test Engineer, a former computer instructor, and an entrepreneur at heart, his talents and skills work in synergy together to help him design, package, and market a product in an already competitive industry.
Myrna was in Retail Management for over a decade, which, we presume, is helping tremendously with sales and management.
What is Babata Handmade Soap?
Although the competition is fierce with the rising popularity of fresh, handmade soaps and cosmetics, we think that it’s Percival and Myrna’s story that elevates them well above the competition. Babata was founded on a mother’s unfailing love and commitment to the safety and comfort of her child. Percival and Myrna’s daughter, Samantha, has a mild case of eczema. After realizing that none of the dermatologist-recommended mild soaps in the market worked to manage Samantha’s condition, Myrna decided to study how to create organic handmade soap–the old-fashioned way–in Upstate New York to curb the effects of eczema on little Samantha’s skin.
Great For The Environment
Babata Handmade Soap is all-natural with 100% biodegradable packaging. So, not only is it great for your skin, it’s also great for the environment! Myrna and Percival are passionate about educating others about each individual’s social and environmental responsibility. Even more than that, Babata is also an extremely generous company. They give to charitable causes in the Philippines, specifically to organizations serving children with special needs.
As stated on their website, babata.nyc, “Have your share!” in taking care of the environment and leaving a positive footprint through their eco-friendly handmade soaps.
We got the chance to catch up with Percival and Myrna at the StartUP! Business Plan Competition organized by Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC). They entered the competition to compete under the community/innovation category against other entrepreneurs in the Queens area. In order to qualify, they had to submit a 20-page business plan and, to become a finalist, they had to give a 30-minute presentation in front of the judges.
Although Percival and Myrna did not win the grand prize, they became one of the finalists. In our eyes, and we’re sure many will agree, that, in and of itself, is already an accomplishment. Plus, there is always another chance and another opportunity just around the corner. All we have to do is be ready when it presents itself!
We decided to ask Percival a few questions days after the event because we were curious about the process of being in a startup competition. Besides, we thought they had some unique knowledge and experience to share so we were extremely excited about it.
StartUP! Business Plan Competition
Here are some of the questions we asked that we would like to share with you:
How was your experience at the competition?
“The competition was fun and rewarding! We enjoyed every part and stages of the competition. It started with attending 4 business courses that are mandatory. From those courses, we learned a lot of things such as how to run and manage the business. We also learned a lot of things on how to create a solid Business Plan that will serve as a blueprint for Babata’s success. We didn’t have any idea how to write one, however, because of the great instructors and programs by the QEDC, we have created a plan that will help us get the funding we need and how the business can enter into personal care arena and position our company into a profitable business.”
What were your struggles in putting together the business plan?
“Believe me, it wasn’t easy especially I did not major in business while in school! However, with the help of God and the guidance of Business Counselors in QEDC, we have made a solid plan. I had many sleepless nights. We invested countless hours doing market research and competitive analyses. Many hours of debate were spent over the sales projection and assumptions. Having a business plan is not just guesses and assumption written on paper. We put so much time and effort with the plan. It is our heart. It is Babata’s heart.”
What do you think were the factors that got you in the final round?
“I guess, first and foremost, it is a blessing from God. As we’ve always mentioned, we do not have a huge financial capital. However, we have a much greater capital found in our faith in God! We may have been afraid at the beginning, were nervous to join, and we did not know what to do. But, we believed God will help us all the time. Second factor, maybe, is we listened carefully to the instructors and their guidance. We did not reinvent the wheel. We followed their detailed instructions and guidance. QEDC gave every knowledge we needed not just to win the contest, but how to position the business to profitability by creating a solid plan.”
Any recommendations for others wanting to compete?
“Keep trying! Just be natural. You do not need to know anything about business. Just have an open mind and listen carefully to all the instructions and guidance by the business counselors of QEDC. If you don’t bag the grand prize, you are still a winner because, by the end of the contest, you would have created a solid business plan which you can use in to get more funding, grow your business, and help more people. We highly encourage all to join whether you’re in the ‘idea phase’ or have already started. It’s fun! We gained more friends and expanded our network as well!”
Their experience really makes us want to go on Shark Tank or a startup incubator! They’ve given us more knowledge and wisdom than we anticipated, but our biggest take away is this: never let the lack of experience deter you from pursuing your goals. It’s sort of a catch-22 regardless. In order to get more experience, we have to act. Actions define us. It delineates us. Actions separates us from the watchers. Act, and then adjust as necessary.
The Babata Team
We would like to thank Percy and Myrna for taking the time to speak with us and for imparting their knowledge and experience to other Boundary Breakers!
Here is a quick highlight reel of their journey:
If you would like to get in contact with them for products, or perhaps, just to get involved in their environmental work, you can reach them here:
Address: Babata New York, LLC. 224 Fifth Ave., Suite C296, New York, NY 10001
Phone #: 1800.827.8584
Catch them at these events!
The Tall Society- Meet Your Tall Sister Brunch