What We Will learn from the mind of Edgar “Injap” Sia

In 2011, the name Edgar “Injap” Sia made a buzz when he sold his shares of his barbecue restaurant Mang Inasal to fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp. Mang Inasal is his brainchild but Injap, being the visionary that he is, clearly had a different path in mind — real estate.

Today, Injap is the Chairman and CEO of Double Dragon Properties, Corp., one of the fastest-growing real-estate development companies in the Philippines. He still sits on the board of directors of the Mang Inasal. And now at 44, he holds the title of being the youngest billionaire in the country and 21st richest Filipino on Forbes’ Philippines rich list.

Edgar “Injap” Sia, chief executive officer of DoubleDragon Properties Corp., speaks during an interview in Manila, the Philippines, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. DoubleDragon went public in the Philippines in 2014 and has surged 2,500 percent since it began trading in April that year through Jan. 31, beating 460 other Asian developers worth at least $500 million. Photographer: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A college dropout eager to build an empire

Injap was born in Iloilo but grew up in Roxas City, Capiz. His father is half-Chinese, while his mother is half-Japanese hence the nickname “Injap”, a combination of the words “Instik” and Japanese. He was the eldest of the three siblings. 

Injap grew up very familiar with handling a business. When he was young, he would spend most of his time after school manning their family-owned grocery store in Roxas City. He recalled moving inventory for their little business instead of playing with his friends. 

Injap initially wanted to become an architect. In fact in college, he took up architecture from the University of San Agustin in Iloilo, one of the most prestigious universities in the country. However, Injap dropped out of college to build and pursue several businesses in the province. At 20, he was able to put up a laundry shop and a photo-developing service center. He and his friends also put up at a five-story hotel in Iloilo which is still operational today. 

“Don’t be afraid if your idea is crazy because good things come from crazy ideas.”, Injap shared in the book Life Principles. Just when everybody thought his ideas were crazy, Injap was brave enough to pursue various business ventures that eventually lead him to where he is today. 

The biggest break

The 26 years old Injap put up a chicken barbecue fast-food restaurant in 2003. During that time, he was already aware of the risks of managing a business because he had a lot of small entities under his belt but he did not step back. He called his brainchild Mang Inasal which is an Ilongo term for Barbecue. 

His father was skeptical about the business at first but the young Injap was able to pursue him to let him borrow a 2.4 million peso capital.

Injap opened his first Mang Inasal branch in a 250-square meter unoccupied space in Robinsons Mall Carpark in Iloilo. The fast-food restaurant initially served its now-famous Inasal, a chicken marinated in vinegar, grilled, and wrapped in banana leaves. It also offers unlimited rice servings which became an instant hit for the Ilonggos and later on for every Filipino. Filipino has a known love affair with rice and a hefty serving of it means a fully satisfying meal.

Mang Inasal grew into 26 branches in Visayas and Mindanao. Later on, it was also able to enter the Luzon Market. In just seven years, Mang Inasal captured the hearts of the Pinoys as it grew to 338 branches nationwide. Mang Inasal also started to offer other Filipino favorites like sisig, pork barbecue, bangus, palabok, and halo-halo.

In 2009, Jollibee Foods Corporation owner Tony Tan Caktiong took notice of Mang Inasal’s progress. In 2010, Caktiong bought Injap’s 70 percent shares of Mang Inasal for Php3 billion, and in 2011, Injap was hailed the youngest billionaire in the Philippines at the age of 33. 

From fast-food to real-estate

Mang Inasal remained to be a Pinoy’s favorite with their sumptuous serving of chicken and unlirice. Six years later, in 2016, Jollibee buys off the remaining 30% of the shares, officially transferring the ownership from Injap to Caktiong. 

Injap saw this as an opportunity to pursue a business close to his heart — real estate. He was into architecture during his teenage years and he wanted to able to turn his vision into reality when he formed DoubleDragon Properties Corporation. 

Injap considered Caktiong as his mentor and friend. In fact, Double Dragon is actually a team-up between the two According to Injap, he met with Caktiong in the airport back in 2012. They talked about his interest in the property business and the rest they say, is history.

DoubleDragon Properties Corporation went public in 2014. At present, Injap is the chairman of DoubleDragon while Caktiong is the co-chairman. Injap is also the CEO of Injap Investments, Inc., a holding company that has Double Dragon Properties Corp., Hotel of Asia Inc, Mang Inasal, People’s Hotel Iloilo, Deco’s Lapaz Batchoy Restaurant in the Visayas, and Injap Foundation Inc. under its belt.  

A brilliant, yet a grounded billionaire

While he grew up with his father believing in luck brought about by Feng Shui, Injap believed that success is something that you have to work hard on and no amount of luck can give you that. “Whatever achievements and successes I’ve had didn’t happen overnight. It is all a product of guidance, hard work, careful planning, and intense, passionate execution over many years.”, he shared. 

He attributed his success to the many correct decisions he was able to make on his many business ventures. While he considers himself as a risk-taker, Injap said he was guided by his instinct not to make a reckless decision. He believes being aggressive in running a business is important but aggression and recklessness do not come hand in hand. 

Injap is a young visionary. For him, it is not about having money or being rich. In one of his interviews, he shared that earning a lot kept him grounded, thanks to the values that his parents instilled in him as a child.

Injap also wants to serve as an inspiration to young, probinsyano entrepreneurs to work hard, start small, and win big while keeping values intact. He believed that competing fair and square is still the key as long as you are dedicated.

“I think my mission is to be in business so I can create a positive impact that will uplift the others around me.”, the young billionaire claimed.

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