With the Philippines on the UP, this young entrepreneur is in the right place at the right time for setting up his rapidly growing business, Staff Virtual.

What’s your story?
My name is Ike Stranathan. I am the Founder and CEO of Staff Virtual, a rapidly growing business process outsourcing (BPO) company located in Makati, the New York City of the Philippines. I created Staff Virtual to give SMEs in the United States, Australia, the UK and Scandinavia, a better, less expensive way to hire the talent they need to grow their business. I am a friendly and outgoing person who believes travelling and meeting new people are the best parts of life – I have been to 47 countries so far and still counting!

What excites you most about your industry?
The future is very bright for the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the Philippines. I love the Philippines and I am honored to be contributing to the economic and social development of the nation. People are asking “Can the Philippines be the next Asian miracle?” I think there is no question it CAN, and it’s happening! I see the growth, I feel the vibe, it’s ‘boomtown’. The Philippines is unquestionably on the up and up, and it’s thrilling to be a part of it.  

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have been traveling all around SE Asia for almost 15 years. In 2009, I moved to Manila to start Staff Virtual.  Its hard to believe that I have been living in Asia for almost six years. As they say, time flies when you are having fun. I have loved living in Asia, its vibrant, the food is amazing, rich cultures and plenty of beautiful things to see and do. The Philippines has been good to me, its my second home now.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Makati  is my favorite city in Asia for business, and that’s why I located Staff Virtual in Makati.  Makati is a vibrant city, new businesses and bars opening daily, and its an easy place to make friends and network. Makati is the economic heart of the Philippines, one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Feels great to know that I’m in the right place at the right time! The country’s tourism slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” is brilliant and incredibly successful – because its true.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been tremendously inspired by Jim Rohn’s classic quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So basically, take the five people you spend the most time with, average together their personalities, so to speak, and that’s you. So you must be very careful who you let in that top five! Be picky! Most of my closest friends are entrepreneurs and many are millionaires, and when you surround yourself with successful people who don’t let anything stand in their way, it rubs off on you, and helps you to become unstoppable.

Who inspires you?
My mom and dad have always been my biggest source of inspiration. Both are hard working, high integrity, compassionate people who always put the needs of others before their own. I can’t say I am a self-made man, because in all honestly, without my parents I don’t know where I would be. I am super lucky to have them and I will never take them for granted. I was dealt an amazing hand in life.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
We all know that the rich are getting richer, and that global wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of a small, incomprehensibly wealthy elite. However, Oxfam just reported a statistic that was simply jaw-dropping – the richest eighty people in the world now have as much wealth as 50% of the rest of humanity combined. This causes untold misery, hopelessness and ultimately violence. Such a shame. The answer to this problem, like most, is education and eradication of extreme poverty.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have moved to Asia sooner. Its the place to be economically. There are so many opportunities, and moving there has been the best decision of my life. I was ahead of the curve in many ways but I would have moved earlier if I knew what I know now.  I have learned Tagalog pretty well, but I also wish I had learned Chinese.  

How do you unwind?
I love to hang out with friends, meet new people, go to nice dinners, house parties and the occasional club. Partying obviously isn’t all there is to SE Asia, but there definitely are plenty of opportunities to have raucous fun. One of the biggest challenges of doing business in the Philippines for many people is balancing fun with work, especially for expats who move to the region. Everything is so new and exciting and fun – staying focused can be challenging.  Manila can eat you alive.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
The best destinations for me are off the beaten path. Places that are hard to get to and that rarely see visitors. Places I can actually take a nap on the beach without someone trying to sell me sunglasses, jet-ski rentals, or something else I would never buy in a million years. Palawan is that place in the Philippines. I also love relaxing in Bali and in Thailand. There are many nice places there and plenty of affordable hotel options to choose from to get away from it all.  

Everyone in business should read this book:
Definitely “The Lean Startup”, by Eric Ries. A must read for every serious entrepreneur.  

Shameless plug for your business:
Staff Virtual builds custom teams of Filipino professionals that work seamlessly with your business for years from our modern offices in Makati, Philippines. Our mission is to give CEOs a better, less expensive way to hire the talent they need to scale. Our clients report saving as much as 70% on labor costs by partnering with us – without compromising quality. With Staff Virtual you can spend less time hiring and managing employees and more time running your business. So if you are searching for a better way to hire, contact us today at [email protected]

How can people connect with you?
Website: http://www.staffvirtual.com
Mobile/WhatsApp/Skype: +639175437185
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ikeike
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ikestran
Skype: ikestran1

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnects

Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

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