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When you first see Ben Wintle, it’s easy to mistake him for a model, and you have all the right reasons to think so. He’s got the height, he’s got the looks, he’s got the charisma, and all of that are just the tip of the iceberg, for Iza Calzado’s significant other, has also got the brains and the passion for excellence, which is frankly, what most women find more attractive.
Having successfully launched Booky last year, now the #1 food app in the Philippines, Ben has been busy expanding its reach by partnering with over 500 restaurants in the country. Learn more about him as we sat down to talk about how his life in Manila has been so far, and how he's been changing our dining experience.
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: How long have you been in Manila again?
Ben: "Four and half years."
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: How has it been like living in the Philippines coming from Hong Kong and China?
Ben: "Manila is great, but in Hong Kong it’s much more relaxed. The people are cooler, there’s more creativity. But I think there’s a good strong sense of community in Manila, which I thought was lacking in Hong Kong. I mentioned there’s a lot of creativity here. It’s an exciting time to be in Manila. I could do a lot of things I haven’t for the first time. When I was living in China between 2007 and 2009, for me it felt like really the right time, right place. In Manila now, I feel this is right time, right place."
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: Three things you like doing in Manila that can only be done in the Philippines?
Ben: "Massage here is cheap, so I try to get a massage every two weeks. I probably eat out more often here compared to Hong Kong, again because it’s cheaper. And third, I get invited to a lot of photo shoots here. (Laughs) In Hong Kong, I was never asked to be shot."
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: What’s the funniest misconception you’ve heard about yourself?
Ben: "Everybody in the Philippines thinks I’m a model or somehow tied to the entertainment scene, but I’m not. I’m dating somebody in the entertainment scene, but that’s about it."
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: How do you deal with it?
Ben: "It’s not really a big deal for me. I find it amusing that it’s kind of—no matter how many times or how many people [know] that I’m kind of not in the industry, people still think I am. More than anything, it probably has a lot of upsides to that. I get a lot of benefits from that."
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: How are you like on a normal day?
Ben: "On a normal day, let’s take today. I woke up at about 7am and the first thought I had was about work. I do meditation every morning to try and relax myself and stay focused. I start every morning with a refreshing juice. If I have time before work, I work out. And then I go to the office. And the average day at the office is full of meetings and all external meetings. In the evening, I always try to come up with dinner. Hopefully, I get dinner with my girlfriend, if not, it’s just my dog. I try to watch some TV in the evening to unwind and try to do some reading before bedtime."
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: What are your favorite books?
Ben: "I would probably have to go for Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood. It’s a story about a guy, a guy who dropped everything and went to, I think Nepal, and dropped by schools and helped children. He’s very successful and has educated a lot of kids. That’s an inspirational book. In University, I read the Dalai Lama’s book The Art of Happiness. I would recommend that to anybody that’s kind of lost in their lives. The third book I would recommend would be any book around the law of attraction, it will help you out in life.
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: Have you always wanted to have your own business?
Ben: "I grew up in Hong Kong. Growing up I always have conversations with my dad about business or invention ideas. So yeah, I think I always envisioned having my own business one day."
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: If you’ll give advice on putting up start-ups, what’s your formula?
Ben: "How to start a start-up… It is super tough. So at the top of my head, you need good partners, co-founders you can trust and you’re happy to spend a lot of time with. Secondly, pick an idea that has a big market. Find you a regional or a global market. Third, bootstrap; when I say bootstrap I mean keep costs as low as possible. If you think it might take you two years to do something, it will probably take you four or five years. And maybe your last tip is manifest; read those law of attraction books and totally like visualize the end game. Visualize a few sets of where it all ends and then it’ll come true."
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: How do you know when it’s time to let go of a project when you know it’s not working?
Ben: "Yeah, that’s a good question. How do you know when something’s not working? That is really difficult but often when if you’ve started anything, I think you’re innately attached to that idea and you might trick yourself into believing that it still working when it’s not. You know I think you just gotta be honest with yourself, you got to listen to people’s feedback, you know a good co-founder or a good friend or family member will give you clues that ‘hey, this is not working.’"
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: So you also have to listen to the people around you?
Ben: "Yeah. I guess maybe what that boils down to is you know, you shouldn’t be afraid of failure. It’s okay to fail. Let go and you shall start again. You’ll learn a lot from that failure and you’ll probably be stronger, smarter the next time you give it a go."
ABS-CBN Lifestyle: What’s next for Booky?
Ben: "We have about 300 restaurant partners now where you could, through Booky, get a discount from. By June, we will probably have about five—six hundred restaurants partners. Go to all these restaurants you can get discounts from. I’ve kind of said it already but this year, our mission is to be known for the biggest restaurant discount platform in the country."
ALSO READ: In Focus: How Love Played a Major Role in the Birth of Hot Food App Booky Manila
Photographs by Vyn Radovan / Makeup by Decerose Alpeche for MAC Cosmetics / Shot on location at the Tryst Studio Showroom / Special thanks to Margaux Salazar, Vanessa Vergara, and Sam Lewis