Fourteen years ago, Fleire Castro and her husband Marco left their hometown in Iligan City and moved to Cebu to start a new life. They were on a quest to just merely survive. She had about ₱20,000 in the bank. Marco had only ₱20 in his pocket. Fleire, 21 years old then, was pregnant and just got accepted for a corporate job in Lapu-Lapu City.
How Fleire Castro, a self-made entrepreneur, built a successful digital marketing company
Their families didn’t know except that they were moving to look for work. They got married in secret in Cebu and gave birth to a boy. But life wasn’t a walk in the park for Fleire. She, too, had a fair share of life’s challenges. She got fired from her corporate work. But little did she know, that instance could pave the way to start her entrepreneurial journey. Her second baby came into existence two years after she left the corporate world.
That baby is Third Team Media.
The homegrown company was built from scratch and later became one of Cebu’s pioneers in digital marketing. And it’s turning ten in the middle of a global pandemic. The company is celebrating its 10th anniversary in the industry on September 2, 2020, and Fleire has become emotional looking back at how she was working to grow her 10-year-old enterprise.
“To be honest, I have not expected anything when I started this. I merely want to be able to serve the local Filipino MSMEs with the digital marketing services that I have been offering foreign clients. As a result, Third Team Media became one of the pioneers for digital marketing in Cebu,” she said.
Fleire had seen the highs and lows of running a business, and her company has served about 70 businesses and organizations to date, with its work to educate Filipinos on the value of digital marketing.
“What happens next, I do not know. But I am just happy to have survived this long with the support of clients, partners, mentors, teammates, community members, and peers we’ve had over the years. It takes a village to raise a child. And I am grateful for all their support before, today, and onwards,” Fleire shared.
Celebrating the Decade
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Third Team Media is offering two promos for both new and existing clients. For new clients, it’s offering a ₱10,000 off discount on its setup fee for any service packages limited to the first 10 businesses who will avail of the offer to total ₱100,000 worth of services.
Existing clients also get a bundled offer of content, ads, and chatbot for a Facebook Management package of only ₱35,000 instead of ₱45,000.
The company will also be doing a free webinar on September 2, 2020, at 4 PM dubbed, “10 Social Media Milestones in the Past 10 Years: A Third Team Media 10th Year Anniversary Special Webinar” on Zoom and Facebook Live on its Facebook Page to celebrate its anniversary.
On lessons and challenges
Looking back at the last 10 years, Fleire would like to compare herself to a duck on a pond that looks so calm on the outside but paddling like heck underneath it. Running a boutique social media agency and consultancy may sound like a sexy business, but Fleire claims it’s not as easy as it seems especially if one is a pioneer.
“One of the greatest challenges for me was actually managing a team. I never had experience running a business. Third Team Media was my first,” Castro recalled. “I’ve gone from running a purely online digital team in the first four years, had an office and closed in the next four, and now back to an online digital team in the last two years. Yes, we’ve been working from home even before the pandemic.”
In those several phases, Fleire’s team has gone from serving foreign clients to serving local Filipino clients.
Educating the customer was another challenge to her. Being a pioneer means that she has to jumpstart the need for her services by actually educating the business owners and managers on the value of digital marketing and social media.
“I have invested so much of my time in doing free sessions at gatherings, seminars, and conferences with the purpose of letting everyone see the potential of using a relatively new platform or technology to use for their business,” she said.
As a business owner, Fleire continually invests in herself whether it’s physically, psychologically, mentally, and emotionally.
“Your greatest enemy is yourself – the things that you allow to happen to you. I had a traumatizing experience with entrepreneur burnout. When I experienced it, I was in a period where I didn’t want anything to do with my business,” she added. “And with that, sales dropped, teammates left, and I was in a horrible state of depression. I was lucky that I was able to bounce back and save myself and the business. So that was a huge lesson for me.”
The success that Fleire Castro has achieved now is a product of several values she has held on to as an entrepreneur. She believes in the discipline of delayed gratification, as she looks back that the past ten years were mostly marked with all hard work and labor and it’s only in the last two years that she was able to travel abroad and enjoy the fruits of her labor.
Running a business while rearing her first and only child also taught Fleire impeccable time management. Together with her husband who’s her biggest partner in the venture, they were doing everything for the first time – first time parents, first time business owners. And it takes a lot of skill to balance your time.
Much of what she has achieved now is also because of the mentors and peers who believed in her and helped her to see her blindsides; plus being able to be part of an encouraging community.
“I have always valued community and I am lucky to be part of several – the Cebu business community, the startup community, the digital marketing community, the YSEALI, and US Embassy network – all of these linkages helped me become who I am now,” Castro said.
In the next few years, Fleire Castro envisions more exciting milestones for her homegrown company.
“I am seeing that partnerships will be the best way to go and expanding our offers with tools and technology using the depth of our experience in the industry would be the next steps that I am personally excited to go about,” she said. “These projects I am working on with a partner are new verticals that I am exploring to broaden our offers for our clients and partners. All of these are much aligned to our vision for Third Team Media – to be a top-of-mind agency and consultancy in VisMin for digital marketing,” Castro ended.
Fleire Castro has always believed in running things fast and furious but at the same time retain the longevity of partnerships and trust with the clients she works with. Right now, she is involved in building a startup related to e-commerce and digital content management.