Long before actor Marvin Agustin made his mark in local showbiz, he already started his path to entrepreneurship. At the age of 12, he became an entrepreneur by selling various items from Tutuban such as firecrackers and clothes in order to support his studies.
Unlike other celebrities who spend most of their earnings on expensive clothes, bags and cars, Agustin invested his first income as an actor in a rice toppings kart business he put up with his sisters and a doughnut shop franchise. He also provided capital to the oyster and seafood restaurant of his friend and also invested in himself by going to a culinary school.
In 2005, Agustin together with his friends Raymond Magdaluyo and Ricky Laudico put up SumoSam, a casual-dining Japanese restaurant in Shangri-La mall.
“[There’s no] casual-dining Japanese restaurants [in the] malls [before], so we thought of coming up with a concept for one,” he told ENTREPRENEUR.
According to Agustin, some people initially discouraged him from getting the mall space since many businesses weren’t able to recover their investment there. However, Agustin and his business partners chose to trust their instinct and put in the hard work.
With 25 branches all over the country, SumoSam has become one of the biggest Japanese chain restaurants in the Philippines. Over the years, Agustin and his partners were able to establish several other brands in their company’s portfolio including buffet-driven restaurant Banzai; teppanyaki restaurant Akira; as well as high-end fusion restaurants John and Yoko and Mr. Kurosawa. They also brought in international brands modified to cater the taste of the local market in 2013.
Agustin revealed that a big factor in his the success of his business is the evolution that comes with changes in the environment.
“You see the environment and how much it has changed since we first started. You need to evolve because customers can always get what they’re looking for somewhere else,” he explained.
In July 2014, Agustin went back to school to take a Masters in Entrepreneurship program at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business in order to equip himself with the right tools to stay ahead of the competition and explore more opportunities.