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From fast food management trainee to tech firm CEO

Xurpas Chairman and CEO Nix Nolledo shares how he blazed the trail for the local tech industry and his plans to grow the company in the region.
By Elyssa Christine Lopez |

 

TRAILBLAZER. What started as an online forum platform has grown into the country's first publicly-listed technology company, which raised more than a billion pesos in 2014. Photo by Jason Quibilan / Entrepreneur Philippines

 

Anyone with a cellphone in the early 2000s will remember these: the inspirational quotes people used to send in groups; the ringback tones that play hit songs when people call up; and everyone’s guilty pleasure, daily horoscopes.

 

Now, fast forward to the world of smartphones and social media, the same company that produce such has raised P1.44 billion ($30.88 million) worth of capital in 2014, becoming the first publicly listed consumer technology company in the country. Welcome to Xurpas.

 

Nico Jose “Nix” Nolledo, Xurpas CEO and chairman has gone from being a fast food manager into rubbing elbows with the world’s most successful venture capitalists. The technology head shared to Forbes Philippines May issue how he blazed the trail for the local technology industry and how he plans to grow in the region.

 

Related: Record breaker: Local tech firm grows from P62,500 to almost P20 billion


 

1. Do the dirty work

It is hard to imagine how a multi-millionaire once cleaned a mall restroom, but for Nolledo, it was something that had to be done.

 

The 39-year-old executive started his career as a KFC management trainee, after graduating with a management degree in Ateneo de Manila University. With such credentials, the store manager challenged his character immediately and gave him one of the most difficult tasks in managing a fast food branch: cleaning the restroom. 

 

But he could not find it, turns out, the manager wanted him to clean the restroom of the mall.

 

And so he did.

 

“I was willing to do what had to be done to get what I want,” Nolledo said. The task earned him the manager’s respect and the realization on what he could accomplish if he only sets his mind to it.

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Thus, his entrepreneurial journey began.

 

2. Use your connections

So in 1999, he launched his first digital company, an online forum site: pinoyexchange.com. The platform gathered Filipino online users that discussed everything and anything in front of their computer screen’s glare.

 

It became a hit when a courtside reporter from a college league invited viewers to share their insights about the game on the platform. By this time, Nolledo can no longer handle the traffic alone, so he turned over the site to iAyala, a subsidiary of the conglomerate Ayala Corporation.

 

For years, Nolledo worked under the company’s wing, learning the chops of the business, and building his network in the process. That has proven beneficial to him, as that was where he found his now business partners, Raymond Racaza and Jude Garcia, who serve as Xurpas’ chief operating officer and chief technology officer, respectively.

 

Related: How a Filipino technopreneur saw the future of mobile Internet


The power of networks continued to benefit him in years to come.

 

 

 

MOBILE GAMING. Xeleb has collaborated with top celebrities like Isabelle Daza, Kim Atienza, Sarah Geronimo, Anne Curtis and Erwann Heussaff to build hit mobile games for Android users. 

 

 

 

When the company developed Xeleb, its mobile gaming sector, they tapped Racaza’s close celebrity friend, Erwan Heusaff for collaboration. This bear fruit to a slew of other celebrity mobile games, which include “Anne Galing” inspired by actress, Anne Curtis and “Market Master” inspired by Heussaff.

 

But what Nolledo appreciates the most these days is the “intellectual capital” he gains from the invitations he receive to networking events worldwide.

 

“When I fly to Tokyo, I have a seat at the table of CEOs of the top tech companies… This is intellectual capital. And the only way to build intellectual capital is through connections,” Nolledo added.

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The insights he gain from such conventions drive him to pursue bigger things for the company and learn strategies that could propel it to regional growth.

 

 

3. Think big

“Our real product is innovation. For a company like Xurpas, what we’re making today might not have anything to do with what we’re making 10 years from now,” Nolledo said.

 

With the mushrooming disruptors in established industries and fast-changing pace of the Internet, this could be true.

 

Xurpas is now looking on expanding its presence in Southeast Asia and grow its portfolio enough to tap other industries, from telecommunications companies to human resource departments.

 

The company currently has 11 acquisitions under its name which specializes in data analysis, mobile content, gaming, and HR solutions. The possibilities are endless.

 

“You want to launch something now, and if it works in the Philippines, you can rapidly scale it to other markets.” 

 

 

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Elyssa Christine Lopez is Entrepreneur.com.ph's editorial assistant/staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz

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