This post is part of a series on the 7th Customer Lovefest held at the Tower Club Makati last November 15-16, 2018.

RJ Ledesma, co-founder of Mercato Centrale Philippines, the largest and most popular weekend food market and food business incubator in the Philippines, shares the ropes behind the unique and memorable Mercato Centrale experience.

Inspiration of Mercato Centrale

According to Ledesma, Entrepreneurship is all about your Inspiration. Moreover, you should use you irritation as your inspiration.

Mercato Centrale was inspired by Thailand, Singapore and Taipei night food markets. Mercato Centrale started in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig City. It was named after the landmark Mercato Centrale central market in Italy. They have two types of customers, B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumers).

B2C Customers are satisfied through CX

B2C Customers are satisfied through excellent customer experience. Mercato Centrale in BGC has 55 new vendors and one new vendor every week. The novelty, variety and the bonding feel they offer shows their  excellent customer experience.

Mercato Centrale is the top-of-the-mind venue for start-up vendors. They organize competitions for entrepreneurs which is the “The Next Big Food Entrepreneur.” Their customers for B2B and B2C are usually millennials aged 25-34.

Mercato Centrale has helped incubate many new savory concepts such as Tokyo Tempura, Shawarma Bros and Hunger Buster, as well as other concepts like Bayani Brew, Merry Moo and Mochiko.

Disruption is normal

Ledesma pointed out that there is nothing to worry about disruption, because disruption is the new normal. Once they are the disruptors, now they are being disrupted. Food parks become popular all over Metro Manila. To react to this disruption, you need to disrupt again. You should review your pain points and business model to address the problem. You need to constantly remind the customers that Mercato Centrale is the number one place to consider for them to start; because from a food market, they emerged to be the most popular food startup incubator in the Philippines.

Food business entrepreneurs in Mercato Centrale starts with Mercato Academy and after 6-8 months they will be placed in their BGC Market. When they graduate, these businesses will become Mercato Alumni stand-alone restaurants.

According to Zomato Philippines, as cited by Ledesma, almost 200 food parks closed all over Metro Manila in 2017. Today less than 50 percent is still operational.

To sum it up, the food park concept has winded down, and Mercato Centrale is still booming. The incubator idea proved to be a success to Mercato Centrale, and it has addressed the B2B and B2C pain points, leading to its business survival and superior brand recall.

By helping businesses improve as they meet their target consumers, Mercato Centrale proved its authority in the food startup business, and is awarded the Agora Award for Entrepreneurship (Small Businesses) this year.


More ideas on improving your businesses’ Customer Experience await you at the 8th Customer Lovefest this November 14-15, 2018 at Discovery Primea, Makati City. For more information, call us at (+632) 633-0153 / 643-3887, text us at (+63) 920 920 2532 / (+63) 920 981 4376, email us at info@exlinkevents.com / exlinkeventsph@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook.

Written by Michelle Camacho

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: