THE COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be one of major events that we all have witnessed together. Everyone had different approaches to deal with the crisis which led to the situation of lockdown. And then the process of vaccination was initiated along with several new norms of social distancing and remote working to counter the crisis.
The majority of industries went under deep distress on how to handle the pandemic. Thus, there was a beginning of new normal where the business had to adapt to changes such as remote working and rapid digitalization. Alongside, companies had to face a challenging situation to establish a new model of managing remote working. This was the same time when several companies began restructuring and remobilizing the business.
As a market leader, SFIO saw the opportunity to restructure its business model to suit the new behaviors and needs of its loyal customers in the market. Expressing his views, Jeths De Jesus Lacson, Chairman and CEO of SFIO says, “We are introducing new models that are suitable for the new normal and may disrupt the traditional way of doing business.”
Incepted in 2021, SFIO is in the progress of renaming to Starfleet Innotech, Inc. The story of SFIO began with its pilot project, the Epiphany Cafe brand. Epiphany Cafe brand is a franchise business in New Zealand which the founders started from scratch. The founders of Epiphany Cafe are the same founders of SFIO.
The leadership has identified capabilities that will enable Epiphany Cafe to be successful in the global market. This has helped them to integrate into the Epiphany Cafe model through the strategic acquisitions of the partner companies within SFIO. The mission of Epiphany Cafe in providing diverse opportunities to people has carried on in SFIO.
The experience at Epiphany Café helped the founders to lay a stronger foundation at SFIO. It assisted the company to innovate and understand the demands of today’s customers. To sustain in this challenging environment, it is important to constantly evolve with the demands of the market. The Technology and Software division of SFIO works closely with the Franchise and Food Manufacturing divisions as it develops business solution applications focused on Small and Medium-Sized (SME’s) businesses which will make the business operations seamless through the use of AI technology and Data Analytics.
The inclusion of advanced technology allows the food manufacturing division of SFIO to develop the SMART FREEZE Technology. It enables the product to be frozen for up to 3-6 months. Once thawed within an hour at an ambient temperature, the products like donuts are with ‘fresh like quality in terms of appearance, texture, and taste.’ This tech addresses the end-of-day wastage on-site and could eliminate the “limiting” factor to expand a brand in a given region or country. A central commissary can meet the demand of the entire region or country.
SMART-FREEZE has enabled the traditional franchise business to become a diversified model where micro-business concepts can be integrated into. Business operations in these companies are on-site to make the products are no longer required. The four-core product model (Donuts, Coffee, Cakes, Bread) of Epiphany Cafe provides a value proposition not only to the business partners such as franchisees but also to customers who are looking for premium quality products in one store.
Identifying and analyzing the gaps
The nature of the business environment is such that no one can avoid challenging situations, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, a franchise start-up business has to encounter other challenges which include maintaining a good profit for its business partners (i.e., Franchisees) without compromising on the product quality and branding. A franchise business is affected by several key aspects such as branding, product quality, and profitability which makes it successful to expand a brand on a global level.
SFIO has experience from its Epiphany Café business which helped the company to identify the root causes and develop the necessary technology. Moreover, the company has updated its business models to suit the needs of the customers and ensure the stability of the business. SFIO understands the importance of staying in the business for the long run. To maintain its success in the coming years, the company has been studying detailed industry and market analysis. This has helped to identify and analyze the gap where it needs to be the focus.
“We have considered the customer behaviors 10 years ago and predicted their behaviors in the next 10 years. This has provided insights as to how we should structure and position our business,” says Jeths.
A leader with a positive mindset
Since the beginning of his career, Jeths has been an influential leader with ample years of experience backing his leadership skills. He is also the co-founder of Epiphany Cafe, Ardent Bakers, Gorgeous Coffee, and A+ Electrical. Furthermore, he is a Chartered Professional Electrical Engineer and a Certified Asset Management Assessor with over 15 years of professional experience in different industries. His expertise is in Asset Management and Business Development.
While expressing his views on how important a leader’s mindset is on the success of the company, he states, “Absolutely! While leaders only represent the entire organization, leadership influences culture, culture drives behaviors within the organization which yields results. Leaders provide the direction where the company is heading and at the same time, paint the vision in such a way that everyone will be on board. Ultimately, leaders need to ‘build leaders’ within the organization as part of the succession plan to ensure stability and ‘consistency of culture’.”
Empowering small and medium enterprises
As aforementioned, COVID-19 has definitely changed the market landscape and behaviors of the customers in the majority of the industries. Jeths and his team at SFIO have structured and positioned their businesses within the company to address the current challenges and needs. In the retail industry including Food and Beverage, the key focus is empowering small and medium enterprises. Hence, its business models are upgraded to enable SMEs through its diversified and multi-layered business model which will bring in the “Shared ownership model” into these types of businesses.
“One key area in the business that COVID has taught us so far is in terms of collaboration even with our competitors. In the past, this was seen as ‘threats’ to a business not until COVID happened where businesses have worked or collaborated together not only to survive but more importantly to adapt to the new playing field in the market,” says Jeths.
A very detailed roadmap for the future
With a positive outlook and under strong leadership, the company is optimistic about the coming years. SFIO is introducing a disruptive innovation in the market where it can do a hypergrowth expansion enabled by its SMART FREEZE Technology and the diversified business model. Utilizing the shared-ownership model, the company has also a very detailed roadmap in line with its strategic global expansion in Australia, Asia, and the U.S. in the next 3 to 5 years. The key to this is ‘speed’ with high ‘precision’ in terms of project execution of the detailed plan. SFIO will be launching its global fundraising and marketing campaign from August 2021. Jeths encourages everyone to consider becoming part of SFIO by way of investing in SFIO through its authorized brokers or becoming one of its business partners in the businesses.