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Poch Espina: There is No A-ha!

Poch Espina: There is No A-ha!

Life’s journey isn’t just a one-way road. It has its ups, downs, turns, and roundabouts. This month, ma-ta got in touch with the young CEO of Sip PH, Poch Espina.

Poch gives us new insider insights from the perspective of an entrepreneur who is ready to tackle one of the world’s biggest problems - single-use plastics.

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A eureka moment is often over-romanticized. Often times, we search for the perfect moment, the climax of a movie, where your heart skips a beat, waiting for the big reveal. People love the idea of having that magical moment, as though an omnipotent figure touched your head. However, the reality is much different. Rome was not built in a day, nor was it divinely blessed. It was brought about by multiple factors, ranging from strategies, mistakes, and half the time, luck. 

This is the story of how Sip PH came to be.

I finished college with a Health Sciences degree, delayed by an extra semester because I chose to go abroad on a scholarship. I joined 30 organizations, just trying to figure stuff out, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t know what I wanted after college. 

I was about to migrate to the United States where I would take a gap year, to decide if I wanted to proceed to medicine. I was hoping to get a job in Silicon Valley as a Data Scientist, and maybe come back one day to have a business in the Philippines, where I’d change the world and achieve my idealistic goals.

But before that, I am focused to have one last vacation in Korea, and fund it through a small gig. I decided I was going to either franchise Dunkin Donuts or start selling metal straws. The former rejected my application, so I pushed through with the latter. Looking back, it's funny!

I first saw the metal straw abroad and later saw someone selling it locally for an exorbitant rate, and I couldn’t believe that it would be that expensive. I also found it ironic that it was sold in plastic, and was impossible to clean. At that point, Sip’s first product was born.

But is this really just about a vacation? If I do it, I must do it with full intention to get it to where I want it to be. With all the knowledge and values I’ve learned at that point, it would have been an injustice to do it just for the money, or to do it just because. I knew it needed to stand for something beyond oneself, and at that point, I knew what the purpose needed to be.

Sip’s goal was simple: to get rid of plastic straws, by providing a simple alternative, a reusable metal straw.


Sip’s goal was simple: to get rid of plastic straws, by providing a simple alternative, a reusable metal straw.

It wasn’t unique, it was just taking the wheel and reinventing it. It was our hope that a business like this would not be even needed in the future.

Three months in, and I decided to abandon my plan of migrating, and I knew I wanted to stay and do this. I was not sure as to why. I think it was mostly because I wanted to stay with the girl I was dating.

Six months in, and I didn’t know what I was doing, because I was bleeding money and my family members were screaming down my neck for not having time to think my future through. For some reason, I was stubborn and still pushed through.

Nine months in, and I was not sure where Sip was going. The person I grew it with at that point was already thinking of looking for another job, and the other was focused on getting a diploma. To help me financially, I started tutoring, until I got fired.

Those were the best nine months of my life. I thought I was migrating, but my love for this country and my girlfriend made me stay. I thought I knew everything, but I was constantly learning from seasoned people in their respective industries. I thought that I didn’t know what I was doing, but I realized I was learning every step of the way.

But the most important part was that I knew where to take Sip. All that was left was to give it my all. At that point, I knew that if I wanted to take this a step further, I needed to focus. If I wanted a boat to sail, I needed to step off the dock and let it journey on.

Today, Sip PH stands as a profitable and registered corporation with 6 employees, over 50 partner locations all over the Philippines, and two abroad. 

By August, we’re opening our flagship store in Katipunan and by September, our official online store in the U.S. Its new aim is to create innovative, fun, and 'instagrammable' solid waste management solutions that promote a circular economy. 

We want to tell people that if we want to fix the waste problem, it’s about changing systems, but more importantly, our mindsets.

It’s of course never without problems, as growing presents a myriad of it. Nowadays, we deal with problems from limited inventory and capital, a lack of a good logistics provider, and even struggling with reducing our plastic delivery footprint. Regardless, we will always fight, like it’s the last straw.

All those life lessons from joining 30 organizations, course switching and environmental competitions back in grade school? The clueless but critical first 9 months? 

(Left) Gela Petines of Reef Nomads and Batang VIP with (Right) Pocholo Espina of Sip PH

(Left) Gela Petines of Reef Nomads and Batang VIP with (Right) Pocholo Espina of Sip PH

They all made sense. But take one out of the equation, and Sip wouldn’t be here today. There is no eureka or a-ha moment. We are the product of every decision we made before. And what we do today, will dictate not just our future, but the world’s as well.

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