Marvin Agustin shares secrets to business survival during the pandemic

The digital entrepreneur highlights the value of listening to people and health investments




“Healthcare is expensive.”

A one-liner quote from Captain Raymond Holt from the comically epic Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which struck a chord to Gina Linetti as she decides to part with the precinct in season six.

In this era, healthcare is indeed expensive — passing off as an indispensable investment. For serial entrepreneurs, healthcare plans seemed like an extra expense. That’s what celebrity chef and digital entrepreneur Marvin Agustin thought of, like any other entrepreneur. Especially when your business doesn’t make enough profit during the pandemic.

But a dawning realization struck Agustin similar to how Gina Linetti had a light bulb moment the instance she realized that healthcare is indeed expensive. Agustin knows that well.

Having to follow safety protocols and being overly cautious about the threat of COVID are points that gave him an idea to provide healthcare plans to all his employees.

A people-first mindset

“We won’t be able to operate if people, your employees, and your staff would get sick, and also not safe for the customers,” said the celebrity chef.

People. Employees. Marvin Agustin understands that businesses won’t thrive without their people. Despite being an “extra cost,” health plans were a surefire investment to keep his people safe, functional, and happy. In the end, the cost won’t be as high as compared to when your employees get hospitalized.

What bugs entrepreneurs are the availability of quality healthcare at a reasonable price. Agustin had believed that only big companies get to provide health plans, not until he chanced upon Maxicare. Surprisingly, the celebrity chef found a credible company offering affordable and convenient health plans for both him and his employees.


Not all quality healthcare is unreachable as many people perceived

Maxicare’s reputation has put off Agustin like many other entrepreneurs. The company seemed expensive and an extra expense — being 33 years in the business with over 1.6 million members, and widely accepted over 1,000 hospitals and clinics around the country.

But Maxicare has an array of healthcare plans, particularly tailored to small-to-medium enterprises. There are plans that are a lot less than PhP 21,000 — which is the average of healthcare expenses that SMEs spend on employees per year — and even as low as PhP 4,600 to PhP 6,000 per employee per year.

The computation can wrack a nerve as your expenses pile up which pushed most enterprises to shy away from healthcare plans. But in return, employees don’t get access to quality healthcare and businesses don’t get protection from unplanned expenses caused by unforeseen circumstances — diseases, pandemics, accidents, and so on.

The best investment for a growing business

Marvin Agustin understood this well: healthcare plans are an investment for employees and the business itself. The digital entrepreneur realized that when his employees are in tiptop shape, his businesses are more profitable.

Jennifer Haw, Operations Manager of Yummyverse Group and one of Agustin’s employees, revealed how relieved and happy she feels knowing she’s taken care of. She has highlighted the importance of having peace of mind brought by Maxicare through their affordable plans.

“We won’t be able to operate if people, your employees, and your staff would get sick.”

Haw advises not to be frugal to people since they’re the foundation of businesses. Haw even applauded Agustin, touting the healthcare plans as the celebrity chef’s best investment for his business so far.

And it has been paying off, especially in this pandemic where the food business has been disrupted and has taken on too many challenges that the industry is still trying to overcome. From the threat of contracting the virus in numerous transactions to the struggles of making a profit, to taking a toll on our mental health.

Surviving entrepreneurship

Despite the struggles Agustin has faced, he was glowing with optimism; seemingly ready to brave the future and whatever it holds. At least during the roundtable. I was giddy looking at his ostensibly never-aging face until a question sparked in my head: What would be his advice to entrepreneurs struggling in this pandemic, too?

Agustin brazenly responded to my question, hinting about the uncertainty of the future. “We don’t know what works. What we thought are our advantages? We’re all back to square one.”

“What is important now is we listen to the new challenges, to the people that we work with, to our audience — old and new. So that we will be able to navigate this pandemic and get out of it alive,” he added.

The celebrity chef highlighted the importance of patience and even asked people to meet him at the finish line, encouraging people to be strong so everyone can attain their goals.

He further added, “We have to listen. This is the perfect time to step back and really figure out anong importante sa inyo.” (We have to listen. This is the perfect time to step back and really figure out what’s important to you.)

Finding the right plan

Maxicare offers a variety of healthcare plans. There’s Maxicare Plus, a comprehensive HMO program for small businesses with 10-99 employees. For micro-businesses, there’s a Maxicare Starter Plan apt for 3-9 employees.

For a different kind of premium, Maxicare BusinessEssential is Maxicare SME’s most affordable offer. The plan has options to have an Outpatient Care Program or an Outpatient Care + Confinement Care HMO program for companies with 3-99 employees.

Maxicare understands that businesses are wary of its piling expenses, which is why they put it into consideration when they offered affordable premiums.

Micro-businesses can get a plan for as low as PhP 4,651 per employee per year. Meanwhile, small businesses can go as low as PhP 6,260 if they have 10-19 employees or PhP 5,301 for those with 20-99 employees.


Apple has been raided in South Korea

For alleged anti-market practices



The troubles for Apple will continue. After spending a length of time fighting investigations all over the world for alleged anti-competition practices, the company’s offices in South Korea have been raided by authorities to further the investigation in the country.

Covered by Foss Patents (via MacRumors), the Korea Fair Trade Commission conducted a raid on the offices at the break of dawn. Authorities reportedly staged the raid after a developer complained of an unfair commission rate. According to the complaint, developers are paying more than 30 percent commission for having their apps on the App Store.

For a rougher breakdown, Apple still charges 30 percent. However, the commission includes VAT, which spikes the total fees paid above 30 percent. In contrast, Google’s 30 percent commission policy does not include VAT, which makes for a lower fee for developers.

With the number of apps on the App Store, Apple is making significant bank by skimming a bit more on commissions. That is, if the allegations prove true, of course. Right now, the company is still under investigation. But, if anything, a dawn raid isn’t a good sign for the iPhone maker.

Apple isn’t the only one in hot water, though. Google is also facing a similar controversy in South Korea. However, instead of the Korea Fair Trade Commission, the Kora Communications Commission is pushing for more parity between Google and Apple.

SEE ALSO: South Korea investigating Apple and Google for app payments

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Nintendo faces allegations of sexual misconduct

Company is investigating



Working at Nintendo must be a dream for every child from the 90s. However, besides the naturally steep point of entry for prospective workers in gaming, everyone has to reckon with a pervasive problem plaguing the industry: It’s just not inclusive. Like other developers, Nintendo is investigating a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations coming to light recently.

A ‘frat house’

Earlier this week, Kotaku brought a series of cases to light straight from past Nintendo of America employees. One tester, whom the report names as Hannah, reveals a litany of inappropriate sexually charged comments. While some are focused externally, like discussing which Pokémon is the best to have sex with, some comments are more targeted, like saying that it’s “a shame” that Hannah is a lesbian.

Unfortunately, the problems for women in the company only start there. Other female workers have reported cases of stalking and unwanted sexual advances, including being asked what color their panties were during company events. One called the environment a “frat house” filled with men. Pay is likewise unequal, favoring more compensation towards men than women.

Reporting inappropriate conduct isn’t welcome, either. Workers have said that they were further mistreated after they spoke to higher-ups about their issues. Perpetrators have also threatened to have their victims fired if the latter reported it. Others have also been called “overly sensitive” if they said anything against the company.

Now, Nintendo of America isn’t the only one at fault. The company outsources a chunk of its workers, including the ones reporting the issues, from a contracting company called Aerotek, which has rebranded into Aston Carter. Nintendo and Carter are currently being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board for harassment.

What they’re doing

For their part, Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser (also via Kotaku) has stated that the company is internally investigating the claims. Previous, Nintendo has come out in support for those who reported the same type of misconduct in other companies like Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft. The entire industry is now in a reckoning.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo just bought its own animation studio

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South Korea investigating Apple and Google for app payments

In hot water



Both Apple and Google are endlessly circulating in a maelstrom of controversy surrounding their respective app stores. Last year, app developers went up against the two giants for enforcing unfair payment systems against smaller developers. Since then, the issue has raged on. Now, South Korea is going after the two companies for the same problem.

As reported by Reuters, South Korean authorities, specifically the Korea Communications Commission, have decided to investigate Apple and Google for reportedly forcing developers into adopting payment systems inside App Store and Play Store.

Unfortunately, the report does not indicate what the companies exactly did to warrant an investigation. While one can easily cast it off as forcing the system unto others, it can also encompass a failure to meet the requirements on time. Google, for example, has stated that it has (and is still willing to) cooperate with authorities to resolve the issue.

Apple, on the other hand, has not commented on the issue.

Back in 2020, Fortnite, one of the most controversial instances of the issue, was expelled from the App Store and the Play Store for going against the margins demanded by Apple and Google. Since then, other apps, like Tinder, have also seesawed their way in and out of the issue.

SEE ALSO: Google is potentially banning Tinder from Play Store

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