Updated: Dec 2, 2021
By Mye Mulingtapang
Images by Pamana World
There are many couples who embark on different entrepreneurial adventures especially in the world of small and medium-sized businesses. For some, they are able to make it, and for others, for various reasons, eventually let go of their dream. It is challenging indeed to find that life partner and at the same time, your business partner with the same vision and values as yours.
Take it from Rhea Topacio and Dennis Rogacion, a Pinoy entrepreneurial couple from the Netherlands who tell us that there are no magical shortcuts to success and entrepreneurial achievement, real entrepreneurs who started their businesses in a practical way, working their way up, and providing quality products to their customers in different countries. Their entrepreneurial initiatives as a couple mean a tremendous amount of hard work but in return give them a sense of fulfillment. Their distinctive driving force and love strengthen their synergy as they share life and dreams together.
“The only way to get started is to learn how to do something right, plan well and start working”, said Rhea.
Double the strength
Working in a structured, strategic, and constant way, like true serial entrepreneurs, beyond their own peculiarities and uniqueness, Rhea and Dennis transform ideas into innovations. They keep a common thread in their emotional relationship and innovative entrepreneurship. They are proof that creativity and determination can go a long way. Linked by love and business, the power couple emphasizes that their penchant for ideas and their pursuit leads to the creation of their various products.
The two entrepreneurs began their adventure by producing chocolates and cupcakes but later moved on to creating Filipino products.
In 2015, they created Luneta Ice Cream ®, the first Filipino ice cream brand manufactured in Europe. The brand won Foodtruck of the Year in the ice cream category and Gold Award for service excellence at the NEDERLANDSE HORECA PRIJZEN 2020.
Rhea and Dennis have transformed their bond into a common passion. They enjoy talking about concepts and thinking about how everything will evolve. As entrepreneurs, Dennis believes that even if their hard work is starting to pay off, they still need to learn.
“An entrepreneurial mindset together with a great desire to study, experiment, and grow is what we started with when we were in the first years of our business.”
Rhea believes that entering the food business is, in fact, one of the ways to be successful. Rhea and Dennis created products that were not readily available in Europe before.
"There are favorite Filipino products we couldn't find here in Europe, so we thought, why not make them ourselves?” said Rhea.
During the pandemic, the couple launched Guapito Beer ®, the first Filipino craft beer in Europe, and Ubeness® Filipino Flavors Collection- a selection of Filipino food flavorings. The flavoring line also includes Buco Pandanness, Mangoness, and Langkaness, available at 20ml and 250ml bottles. In 2021, additional lines of ice cream were launched — Manong Sorbetero Filipino Ice Cream and Miyamoto Japanese Ice Cream.
The free time they had at the beginning was just a hobby which then became a real job and business. Before starting a business, before letting oneself be attracted by the fascinating dream of success, it must first be built according to Rhea. It all started on their kitchen table with commitment and persistence. Over time, their products have managed to conquer the European markets. Their products are sold in different Asian and Filipino stores, stocked in almost 31 countries up and down Europe.
Married for more than a decade, it was their common thirst for independence that prompted them to start a business together. A lifestyle choice that they have never regretted and thanks to which they have progressed at the same pace. Their tandem has allowed them to evolve and grow together in business and as a family.
With the couple’s long-term vision of maintaining the Filipino food legacy, Pamana Foods (a brand of Pamana World) will continuously grow in developing new products and brands with local and international partnerships to promote Filipino taste in Europe. The desire to grow and succeed in another country was so great that there were no excuses, and every obstacle is considered an opportunity.
For them, long-term planning and hard work are still the path to thriving in any endeavor. Every entrepreneur has his own way of doing business, but there is a basic thing that Rhea wants aspiring entrepreneurs to remember -
“You have to start somewhere. Ideas and opportunities don't materialize out of thin air.”