A Balikbayan-Built Booking App Maps Out Must-See Sights in Your City

After long stretches of time studying and working abroad, the return home was an exciting time for friends Gino Gervasio, Carlos Salazar, and Jeph Fernandez. They were rediscovering old haunts and stumbling across new ones: Interesting hotspots were cropped up all over the metro, but they’d found most of these through word-of-mouth. “We realized there were so many cool establishments opening left and right that we never heard of before, but we only knew about them through friends and family,” Salazar recalls. “When we did find something, usually you can't make an appointment online. Or if you do, you can't pay for it. Sometimes, you can’t do either.”

Pooling together their collective experience in business and systems development, the three decided to work on a solution themselves: Since January, they’ve been busy developing BaseUp, a tool with which users can discover businesses specific to their needs and location, as well as make reservations painlessly. For business owners, the app also helps keep track of appointments, manage employee schedules, and oversee company analytics. “We absolutely believe that the customer experience doesn’t just begin when they walk through the door. It starts way before that. You have to think about how easy it is for customers to find you first,” says Gervasio.

Gino Gervasio, Carlos Salazar, and Jeph Fernandez of BaseUp

The founders often have to split their time between BaseUp’s Manila and New York offices—the latter is where much of the company’s research and development takes place—but when they’re in the Philippines, they clear their schedules every week for what they call Welcome Wednesdays, during which they focus on spending time with their partners. “It’s like an open house for our partners; they can just come in on Wednesdays if they want to collaborate or need help with something,” explains Salazar, who manages sales and marketing for BaseUp. 

That level of accessibility has helped the trio zero in on their target market’s specific pain points. Though it’s still on a soft launch, BaseUp is already working with eight partners in various industries, including Crossfit Manila, Urban Ashram, and Felipe and Sons. Their clients had worked with other vendors before, most of which were based in the US, making it difficult to get a hold of them when they had trouble with their systems. “If something breaks, they have to schedule a call at a weird time for them,” explains Fernandez. And although their previous management systems were very robust, their partners admitted these was also very difficult to use. The challenge then set before BaseUp was in striking the right balance between between simplicity and robustness that would be well-suited to Philippine businesses.

The BaseUp App Team

“We wanted to create a product that would be very intuitive and easy to use for our partners, and for their staff as well,” says Fernandez, who handles the UX and UI fronts. “While we are trying to build a global solution, we have to really tailor it to our partners' needs. This alpha program is designed so that we’re working closely with them; we can see their pain points from day to day and we can adjust to it quickly.”

“For us, it’s simple: build things fast, iterate fast,” says Gervasio, who, as the head of engineering, makes sure that every facet of BaseUp—from the app’s look, down to how its transactions are made—is run through a battery of tests. This hands-on management style is difficult when they’re working remotely, but they stay connected to their team of developers here at home through online messaging apps and roaming calls.

The first version of the app is slated for release in two months’ time, but its founders are still looking to add more features soon. One of the things they hope to address with BaseUp is improving no-show rates—a pet peeve for many business owners. “If you get to that point where you’re ready to launch, you're too late, because you’re always going to find something you want to do better,” says Gervasio. “What’s important is just to get it out there and work as you go. You can’t be stuck waiting for the perfect product.”

Flying out to meet with potential clients abroad? Use your Globe number anywhere in the world with myBusiness Roaming.