According to my college professor, to become a successful entrepreneur you need to start by working your way up the corporate ladder. He said working for a big company gives you the chance to learn without the high cost of failure and develop skills such as emotional intelligence that will help you deal with different kinds of people and egos in the professional workspace.
Unfortunately—or as it turned out, fortunately—for Jet Yu, he never had a chance to work for a company. “I’ve never worked for another company, not because I didn’t want to, but because I simply didn’t get the chance,” Jet recalled.
“Applying for a job wasn’t something ‘normal’ for students of our school, and while most of my classmates already had job offers months before graduation, I didn’t receive any offer.”
What Jet had was a struggling food kiosk and a few other small businesses on the side, and the clerical experience he’d learned from working all those summers at their family business.
“Managing a food kiosk was difficult and very time consuming, and the only way to run it more efficiently was to open five other branches, which I had no plans of doing. I figured I could sell the kiosk, and start another business—the only question was what?”
He sold his kiosk at a small profit for around P200,000, and at age 23, Jet Yu put up Prime Philippines. “Prime Philippines began with a business plan, one employee, a lot of prayers and an accidental client. I met this Taiwanese developer who had a nine-story building here in Quezon City. The property had been operating for two years already but only had less than 10 percent occupancy, which was very bad performance. He entrusted me with the project, and thankfully we were able to deliver and sell the available spaces. After that, he recommended us to his friends and that was how we were able to grow the business.”
In 2014 Prime Philippines brokered the biggest transaction in Quezon City with a project that was worth P500 million.
Jet says he chose the name “Prime” to promote the country as a prime destination. The company provides innovative solutions that maximize real-estate assets through high return on investments. Prime Philippines also performs real-estate documentation services, optimized real-estate solutions and sound decision-making through in-depth market insights and extensive consultation services, brokerage/leasing solutions that complement space requirements to ensure maximum profitability and productivity, as well as cost-efficient management strategies backed by top-notch research that will yield maximum profit for commercial properties. The company has since grown from one employee to nearly 50, with a satellite office in Davao City as it aims to make Davao the Central Business District of Mindanao. He attributes his company’s competitive edge to his young work force. “Prime is made up of 2 percent baby boomers and 98 percent millennials. If you look at it, a lot of strategists in the real-estate industry still practice traditional ways. Our mission is to challenge the tradition and invent better real-estate solutions tailor-fit for millennials which comprise the biggest market share.”
His other venture, GreatWorks, is the first coworking space in Quezon City. It aims to give small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs a more viable option than renting office spaces in the more expensive Makati area.
Jet’s reputation and expertise led to a stint in the second season of the show Final Pitch where he became the youngest investor judge of the show. As an angel investor, Jet says he’s always on the lookout for businesses that foster and sustain Filipino ingenuity and innovation. For instance, he supported a team that pitched an application that simplifies the intimidating concepts behind stock investment so that common folk know when and how to invest in different companies, increasing support via quantity, thereby stimulating the economy. He is also keen on pursuing ideas pioneered by Filipinos that have a high impact on society and finance projects related to developing property technology.
Looking back, Jet says giving up on video games helped him focus more on achieving his goals. “Anything that has nothing to do with my goal, I put it out. I listen to webinars instead of the latest pop hits. I have a vision wall and I don’t post much on social-media sites. I wake up at 5 in the morning and plan for the next day every night instead of going to a party. It’s never too late for people who graduated without honors. You just need to continuously change for the better. Focus on what you want to do and believe in learning by doing.”