A nurse who graduated cum laude but could not immediately find a job in 2010 chose to join a network marketing company and sold affordable contact lenses to fellow millennials online.
While Leo Ortiz eventually got a job offer from St. Luke’s Medical Center a year later, he decided that he could earn more outside the hospital. His experience at the network marketing company nurtured his interest in entrepreneurship. He ventured into selling products online with the help of Facebook and Instagram.
Today, the 32-year-old millennial employs more than 30 individuals and recently opened a P15-million private resort in Calamba, Laguna.
“Without the help of social media, I won’t be able to achieve this kind of success in decades,” says Ortiz, who earned his first million by selling contact lenses online in just 10 months.
“By being a millennial and yuppie, my knowledge on technology and social media helped a lot in my business,” he says in an interview in Makati City.
Ortiz is the founder and owner of Elite Contact Lens which distributes optical lenses from Korea; The Gluta Spa, a chain of skincare clinics in Luzon; and The Oia – Santorini of the South private resort in Laguna.
With billionaires Edgar ‘Injap’ Sia and Tony Tan Caktiong as his role models and his mother as his inspiration, Ortiz established Rising Dragon Trading Corp. as the holding company for his growing ventures. His plans include putting up optical lens shops at different shopping malls and diversifying into food and restaurant business.
It was not an easy climb to the top for Ortiz. He graduated with a nursing degree from Perpetual Help College in Biñan City, but found the job market tight. “I had a difficult time finding a regular job. I waited for a year to work as a nurse at St. Luke’s,” he says.
Ortiz, without a steady source of income, decided to work for Nu Skin, a network marketing company that sells personal care products.
“It was where I transformed to become an entrepreneur. After several months of selling products, my ambition to become a nurse waned. What I learned from marketing is priceless.”
He also developed his business acumen from watching his mother—a money lender and jeweller in Laguna. His father stays at home, taking care of the family. Ortiz has two siblings.
After borrowing P10,000 from his mother, Ortiz initially sold affordable lenses to employees of shopping malls and used Facebook to create awareness. He sold 25 pairs a week and in ten months became a millionaire.
“After 10 months, I was able to save P1 million. I am frugal,” he says.
He discovered that he could earn more if he had his own brand of contact lenses. Ortiz searched Google for a foreign supplier and found one from South Korea. A communication via email resulted in a long-standing partnership for the popular brand of Elite contact lenses, with well-known celebrities now endorsing the brand.
“It was also through online distribution. A pair cost P450 then. My market was mostly yuppies,” he says. At the peak of the business, Elite was grossing P1 million to P1.5 million a month in 2013 to 2015, until more competition entered the market. “Prices went down because of the competition,” he says.
That’s when he explored another opportunity, created by the growing number of Filipinos who desire a fair complexion. “My next business is Gluta Spa. Because of my background as a nurse, I know how to administer gluta injection,” he says.
Ortiz now has seven shops of Gluta Spa in Metro Manila, Pampanga and Laguna. His gluta-related products now account for about half of his total revenues.
With enough savings, Ortiz bought a property in Calamba, which is known for hot springs. “I grew up in Calamba and I love swimming,” he says, to explain why he built a private resort in 2017. It opened in September this year, after Ortiz invested a total of P15 million.
The Oia – Santorini of the South is now one of the most sought-after private resorts in Laguna because of its Greek architecture and design. “We have five big rooms that could accommodate 45 individuals. We have two hot spring pools,” he says.
Ortiz says he also experienced failure, such as when his other skincare venture failed to take off. “What is important is I learned from it. I wasn’t afraid to fail,” he says.
“Although I still miss being a nurse, I have no regrets because I was able to achieve the dreams that I have for my family and myself,” says Ortiz.
On how he manages his finances, Ortiz says he has an accountant and bookkeepers who help him. “I don’t spend a lot. I don’t go for branded clothes or shoes. Travel is what I spend for. I bring my family overseas,” he says.
Ortiz advises other millennials who want to succeed in business to identify their goals. “You have to know what you want for yourself and for your family. What is your dream? If you want to do business, you can do everything already. Secondly, taking a risk is a part of the game. You have to have faith in the Lord and take some action. Then, everything will follow. Don’t stop until you achieve your dream,” he says.
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