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Under 35 and already an entrepreneur

Young entrepreneurs innovate, execute and do well in business. Five of them share their stories with us.
By Jimbo Owen B. Gulle |

“Young people are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and more fit for new projects than for settled business.” Francis Bacon, the English  philosopher, said this more than four centuries ago, but it still applies to the youth of the present—especially to the young entrepreneurs whose stories we feature in the next pages.

Indeed, Rio de la Cruz, Marco Aventajado, Bang Omengan, Patrick Jalbuena and Cathy Lim-Senga have done all of the above. They have executed enterprises that are both new and innovative in their respective industries, despite being all under 35 years old.

Unlike their elders, young entrepreneurs tend to put up novel businesses in areas where
markets have been untested.

This trait has helped de la Cruz metamorphose from being a champion long-distance  runner to a footrace organizer and a running coach to the stars.

It has helped Aventajado to claim a foothold in the nascent poker-club industry. And it has helped Omengan, Jalbuena and Lim-Senga to reach overlooked clients in the  hospitality, music and food sectors.


As most veteran businessmen can attest, it’s never too early to start your entrepreneurial
journey. And it’s easy to start a business if it means doing something you love—the common thread running through all five of our subjects. They have heeded the words of another man, the late American comedian and singer Joe E. Lewis: “You are only young once, and if you work it right, once is enough.”

1.    Rio de la Cruz


 He’s the champion athlete behind the afro who’s in the running to become a champion entrepreneur.

His is a story we’ve heard, seen, and read many times before: born in the province and raised in the slums, abandoned by his mother, raised by his blue-collared father, walked to school, realized he could run, did so without shoes, was seen by a talent scout, earned a scholarship, ran in a marathon, created a marathon, and became a millionaire. It’s a story we know all too well. But this one is different: the story’s hero wears an afro.

Tall, lanky, and with skin browned from spending afternoons under the sun, Rio de la Cruz, 27, is a child of the streets. A native of Bato, Camarines Sur and the youngest of 14 children, de la Cruz was barely a year old when his mother left the family, leaving all parental and nurturing duties to Rio’s father and grandfather.


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