Why Harvard Graduates Returned to PH to Sell Adobo?

Did you know that Adobo Connection, which has over 50 stores all over the Philippines and branches in California, Singapore and Kuwait, was started by two MBA executives who earned their degree from one of the most prestigious schools in the world?

After taking a two-year MBA course at Harvard Business School, couple Jerome Uy and Meredith Ngo saw the opportunity to put up a business showcasing the quintessential Pinoy dish, adobo.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Entrepreneur PH

“Jerome just gave me a call one day and said, ‘Hey, why don’t we open an Adobo Connection?’ The minute he said it, I could totally envision it—adobo connecting the taste and feel of the modern Filipino home across generations and regions all over the world. After two months, I opened the first store,” Ngo recounted.

That conversation became a eureka moment for Uy and Ngo. Indeed, adobo reminded the couple of their time in Harvard together as it was the dish that they would frequently cook for themselves and for friends.

Why Adobo Connection?

While adobo is a dish that tugs the couple’s heartstrings, Uy and Ngo knew that it also connected every Filipino from all walks of life.

“Considered the quintessential Pinoy food, every region in the Philippines has its own adobo.  The Bicolanos have adobo sa gata.  The Batanguenos have adobong dilaw.  The Illonggos have adobong kangkong.  There are so many varieties of adobo that it is really a way of cooking rather than one specific dish!”

Learning from Past Mistakes

Although their first business Fuzion Cafe didn’t do so well, the couple still tried their luck in business and invested P3 million to open their first branch of Adobo Connection at the Dela Rosa carpark building in Makati back in 2010. Soon, they opened two food-court spaces.

In 2011, their big break came as they opened a 94-square-meter branch at SM Sta. Mesa.

But in order to avoid their past business mistakes with Fuzion Cafe, the couple got Kellda Centeno, a business management (honors program) graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University as their business partner. While Ngo oversees the business operation and franchising, Uy took care of commissary and human resources. Centeno, on the other hand, was in charge of marketing and finance.

Soon, the business got bigger growing to over 50 branches and expanding internationally. It is now one of the fastest-growing Filipino franchises and also the largest food franchise dedicated to adobo.

Along with their business partners, the couple also established Chopstop to prevent their franchisees from “cannibalizing each other”. To date, it has over 20 branches in the Philippines.

If you wish to franchise Adobo Connection, check out this article.