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How This Filipino Start-up Grew Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic

Unbox Creator Network (UCN), a digital talent agency based in Manila, launched a few months before the COVID-19 breakout. Despite the pandemic, the young start-up grew dramatically over the last year, doubling headcount, revenues, and growing the talents they represent four-fold.

“In response to the pandemic, we narrowed down and focused on the type of creators that we wanted to represent and manage,” shared Lea Cruz-Inocian, Managing Director & Co-Founder of the agency. “We intentionally launched with a roster of creators in gadgets and tech as Filipinos turned to technology to be able to work, earn, and play safely in their homes,” she said.

As of today, the agency exclusively represents the biggest pool of tech creators, influencers, bloggers, and websites. This includes Mary Bautista, who has over 1.7M subscribers on YouTube, Jookstogo, one of the biggest PH TikTok creators with over 6M followers, and several of the top gadget digital publications such as Unbox.ph, Gadget Pilipinas and Jam Online. Throughout 2020-2021, the agency was able to close deals with some of the biggest advertisers in the country who were able to withstand the onslaught of the pandemic due to their natural demand.

As 2021 rolled in, the agency spotted the growing trend for home fitness and financial education - 2 key issues that were put at the forefront once again because of the pandemic.  In response to this, the agency put together two new units.

UCN - #FitFam
Left to Right: Jacob Alava, Aileene Macalisang, Kat Aglipay Kayleen Ortiz, Levi and Sara Cycle

In March 2021, UCN launched its newest roster of creators - the #FitFam which includes Jacob Alava, a certified sports nutrition coach, Aileene Macalisang, your go-to-girl on keto and the latest diet trends, the #MightyFit pole champion, Kayleen Ortiz, an advocate of “sustainable fitness”, Ida Paras, and the adventurous cycling duo, Levi and Sara Cycle.

UCN FitFam
Left to Right: Zyrelle Macasaet (Kookoo Vlogs), Ida Paras, Martie Bautista, Ruth Ortiz

After a few months, the agency also signed up new talents to represent including “Chloe Ting of the Philippines,” Kat Aglipay, professional football player now a news correspondent, Martie Bautista, Zyrelle Macasaet of Kookoo Vlogs, and aerial athlete, Ruth Ortiz.

On the finance side, the agency exclusively represents several of the biggest and up-and-coming talents in the field, such as:

UCN Finance
Left to Right: Thea Sy Bautista, Randell Tiongson, Cha Gomez (Miss Invest), Nicole Alba, Gerard Dela Peña and Michelle Orosa-Ople

Thea Sy Bautista, who focuses on wise personal investments, and most sought-after “tita” finds. She lays them all out in her vlogs injecting chunks of useful information with her expertise as a banker and realtor.

With more than three decades of expertise in the financial industry, the author of “No Nonsense Personal Finance: A Step by Step Guide” that sold over 60,000 copies, Randell Tiongson has become one of the most respected financial coaches in the country.

Nicole Alba might be the youngest creator of UCN but she sure does strike a punch with her growing “BreadFam” who are all eager to learn more about her financial investment portfolio, crypto trading secrets, and self-development journey.

A licensed chemical engineer and financial advisor, Cha Gomez a.k.a Miss Invest relates to millennials and young professionals with her fun, snappy, and informative TikTok videos on budgeting and financial investments.

“Kaasenso with Gerard and Mich” guests entrepreneurs on its weekly Facebook Live sessions and shares tips and tricks on how to grow and succeed in business.

The agency also signed partnerships with Chinkee Tan, the most sought-after wealth coach in the country, seasoned stock-trader, entrepreneur, and CEO of StockSmarts Inc., Marvin Germo, best-selling author of Act Like a Man, Dennis Sy, and Charm de Leon who’s your go-to-girl for anything about #adulting, for non-exclusive representation.

“2022 will be another challenging year but we’re hopeful and excited as we continue to do our best to provide the best value we can to our employees, advertisers, and our talents by continuously identifying trends and waves that we can ride on,” concluded Inocian.

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