The takoyaki – a ball-shaped snack made of wheat flour that originated from Japan – can be considered as a new concept in the local food industry. However, the upside potential of this product is very high due to the fact that its market is not yet saturated and the idea itself is distinctive.
Sweet Corner founder and certified takoyaki lover Bong Magpayo saw the opportunity to create his own takoyaki stall because of these factors. A former franchisee of a well-known food stall selling the product, he believes that the product can garner potential customers if the product matches the taste buds of the Pinoys. "I believe it needs a little more innovation for the Filipinos to patronize this because we can get a bit picky on what we eat,” Magpayo said.
Pleasing the Filipino palate
When he entertained the idea of having his own takoyaki store, what he first considered was the taste. “The original takoyaki is too fishy for our palate. We Filipinos love something sweet and spicy, mixed with some tasty toppings and fillings. We tried different ways on how to cook it until we came up with our own recipe,” he shared.
With the help of his wife Cholly, who has background in baking, he was able to manually create the batter used for the takoyaki and deliver it straight to their chain stores around the metro and nearby provinces. The toppings they use are made of pork and chicken flakes. The healthy part is the food’s fillings, made mostly of vegetables including cabbages and carrots, among others. Customers can also choose their own sauce – chili or sweet & sour.
Sumo’s strategy and franchising opportunity
The brand is open for franchising and it is well-matched for hopeful entrepreneurs since it is unique and can attract a lot of patrons. In fact, it can still be considered as a new concept nationwide. “We’re not a generic commodity like the siomai or the French fries. Our franchisees are assured of higher income margins and our takoyaki is more Filipino-based than those of competitors. I can say that the concept is a great business opportunity for starters,” Magpayo emphasized
Majority of their stores can be found in major malls, a business strategy that has worked so far for him and his franchisees to build the promising brand. The SM City North Edsa branch for instance, is located at the entrance of The Block building. “Our location there is very strategic because it has strong foot traffic. Potential customers can see us whenever they enter and exit the mall.”
The capital requirement is relatively small. It enables franchises to cope with the reasonably high rental fee of malls. Moreover, the fast-food chain boasts of affordable product price of just P25 for a set containing three takoyaki balls.
Another contributing factor for the new business’ success is the entertainment value which the vendors provide when they cook and prepare the food. “The Filipinos are very visual. They enjoy it when the food is being cooked and prepared right in front of them. They want assurance that what they’re going to eat is clean and fresh,” Magpayo explained.
He was quick to emphasize that he has decided to establish the business not to jump into the bandwagon, saying that he and his wife had carefully planned about it before they even thought of launching. “We observed the market first and scouted the potential of the product. I can assure that we have the most Filipino-based takoyaki in the market. The distinct quality and taste of our food will keep you coming back for more,” he said.