There are over 7,641 islands in the Philippines. Chances are, you’ve visited only a handful of them. Most travellers usually go to through the back and forth of researching, booking, and coordinating with people on the ground to set up their next destination. This works great for places with good online presence— whether it be news articles, travel blogs, or listings on booking and travel sites. But if you’re a small town on the countryside with no mention anywhere online, you’re out of luck.
Explora.ph strives to solve exactly that. They work closely with locals and create curated online profiles for each town across the Philippines. With content as their lifeblood in running the company, Explora helps you discover unique attractions, activities, and accommodations that you cannot find anywhere else on the web.
We caught up with Perry Sumakote, co-founder and Vice President of Explora.ph, to take a sneak peek at what happens behind the scenes in the Explora.ph team.
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1. Tell us about yourself.
I am Perry, Co-Founder and Vice President of Explora.ph. I am responsible for the company’s growth through sales, marketing, and building strategic, long-term partnerships with local government units and key business partners. I am, also taking the lead in crafting Explora’s culture and values, and in innovating future growth opportunities for the company.
While my business partner, JR Felipe, Founder and CEO is responsible for the architecture of the website and collaborating with computer engineers and graphic designers to lay out the website foundation. The website’s content is fueled by the love and dedication of photographers, writers, travel experts, and members of tourism enterprises and the local government. All together, we seek to drive a new era of nation-building through the travel industry.
2. What can you tell us about Explora.ph?
At Explora, travelers can easily discover things to do, places to see, and comfy rooms to sleep in where ever they are in the Philippines. We curate only the best experiences in the Philippines so travelers can have the best value for their time and money.
3. What inspired you to start Explora.ph?
I’ve been traveling for many years, but have been annoyed to spend so much time online just searching for places to go and things to do in my own country. Our options for booking hotels are also limited to established tourist destinations. Seeing that the Philippines has so many beautiful places to discover (which Filipinos sadly take for granted), my business partner JR and I saw the opportunity to create a one-stop travel platform and booking facility for anyone traveling in the Philippines.
Our main edge from other booking sites is that we go out to partner with real people, that’s why we have activities, hotels, and homes that cannot be found anywhere else on the internet. And we hope to grow that way, offering only unique experiences in the Philippines! At the core of our business is love of country. We believe that the tourism industry is fundamental in boosting Philippine economy.
4. How did you start? And how did you build your team?
I met JR in 2016 and he was already building a system to support this vision. He was into technology and travel publishing, while I was into marketing and sales, both of us with many years of experience. When we gelled our skills and talents together, we thought we could make this (Explora) happen and fly.
Building the team was hard in the beginning, as finding the right people was difficult to do. We had to resort to trial and error to see who fitted and who didn’t, not just in terms of skills, but in terms of sharing our vision and our values. Eventually in two years, our team has somewhat assembled. We still are looking for two more team players, and we think we’re having them soon!
5. How’d you learn about Impact Hub and how was it able to help you in your journey?
Last year, JR and I were looking for a space that offers flexibility and convenience. Startups and entrepreneurs like us look for a place where we can work and the same time collaborate with other startup leaders and move around Manila with very minimal cost. And so we found, Impact Hub Manila.
It’s like a meeting of the hearts. Having 6 available spaces around the Metro with easy access is such a huge boost in our day to day operations. Our connection with Impact [Hub Manila] led us also to be part of the Roadshow Startup Asia Berlin Delegation in 2017 — another milestone for Explora since we’ve connected with startup cities like Jakarta, Bangalore and Berlin.
6. What does your daily work routine look like?
We have flexible time at work so we can start anytime, but still clock in 9 hours. Like the rest of the team, we go to work during non-rush hour, around lunch time, and finish at around 9 pm. Each day is different for me. Some days I speak with corporate partners and local government partners, other days I work with the printer for our publication materials. Some days I collaborate with our content team, and other days are just chilling and brainstorming. It’s really fun and there’s so much room for growth!
7. Any daily habits that you’d like to share? Gadgets? Workflows?
I like to start my day with this meditation app called Simple Habit, I spend 5-8 minutes to ground myself and prepare my body, mind, and spirit. What the app really does is to help you cope with the challenges of my daily life through a series of guided programs. Then I head to work using Grab — it’s convenient and easy. I like how I maximize and utilize my [Grab] points. Whenever I run out of cash, I use those points and convert it to payments.
Lastly, I spend the rest of day working in one of Impact Hub’s partner co-working space at RBC Ortigas. I usually follow a general workflow — funnel everything out in terms of priority. For me, focus on the things that really matters work. Eliminate all the noise.
8. What would you change (or keep) in your journey starting and running Explora.ph?
The vision is our northern star. If we don’t have a higher purpose in what we do, it’s very easy to do less and become like any ordinary booking facility. We always remind ourselves that we’re limitless , and that our only limit is our imagination. Anything is possible, as long as it’s attuned to your heart.
9. Any advice you’d like to leave to fellow entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs?
Do what makes you happy. Always follow your heart.
Follow 5/25 Rule. Just focus on the things that really matters. Law of elimination.
Surround yourself with positive energy. That includes people, all the nicest things you can think of. Law of attraction.
Keep your values intact. Be grateful.
Always have the right attitude. You can do it! Law of positivity.
10. What’s next for Explora.ph?
Our improved system is launching this Independence Day along with our Kalayaan Tours. These featured tours that are uniquely and originally Filipino such as Lasa ng Republika the ultimate Caviteno Food Tour by Ige Ramos, Bamboo Bike Tours of Intramuros, Historical Walking Tour of Escolta, and other local culture + food tours.
While we’re still integrating new experiences and top-notch travel guides (reading material and travel experts), we’ll be launching a series of #lovePH campaigns to promote existing tours and experiences. We’re excited and we hope you can be a part of our journey!
Impact Hub Manila offers co-working and shared office space along with its programs that helps entrepreneurs reach their “north star.” Scattered in 6 key locations around the Metro, Impact Hub Manila offers convenience and productivity to any aspiring start up.
Want to connect with Explora.ph for travel inspiration and booking?
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