Business Launch Podcast
Builidng a Publishing and Magazine Empire with Mike Ilagan
January 22, 2023
In an interview with Carlo Selorio, Mike Ilagan discusses his childhood in Sydney's West and how he discovered early on that he had a knack for entrepreneurship by buying candy in bulk when he was young and selling it for a profit. Mike completed a course in graphic design, but because he lacked experience, he was unable to get employment. Mike founded his own publication so he could build a portfolio. For the first five years, he didn't make any money, but he persisted and built a publishing empire. Mike's Top 3 Business Advice: 1. Don't quit your day job just yet when you first start a business. 2. Do your research. Don't jump into any, um, I guess any business that you, you've seen in TV or heard your friends say, oh, this is a great business and you should be doing this. 3. Build a Strong Network Book recommendation: Mike's book recommendation is the Bible. You need to have your faith to turn to. You can get Mike on his following handles: Websites: Facebook: Instagram:\ Youtube Twitter:
 Mike Ilagan Star Central Magazine

[00:00:00] Carlo Selorio: Okay. Let's go. Okay. In three, two. Welcome everyone. Thank you for coming to visit us here at the pod. Business Launch podcast. I'm here with a special guest, um, Mike Lagan. I've known Mike for a very long time. We've, as most of my, my guests, they played basketball with him or had some sort of connection with him.

[00:00:26] And Mike's one of the guys that I used to play with and he's owns, um, a publishing company. He owns a few, a few magazines. Is that right? 

[00:00:38] Mike Ilagan: Yes. Yes, 

[00:00:39] Carlo Selorio: correct. Yeah. Yeah. How you doing today? 

[00:00:41] Mike Ilagan: Yeah, yeah. Good man. Good, good. 

[00:00:43] Carlo Selorio: We just both woke up, so we're both half asleep. , . 

[00:00:49] Mike Ilagan: That's 

[00:00:49] Carlo Selorio: a life, right? ? Early in the morning, so, yeah.

[00:00:54] Yeah. So, um, tell us your story. Where'd you grow up? 

[00:00:58] Mike Ilagan: Hi. Look, I, I grew up in the [00:01:00] western suburbs, uh, Glendenning, my, that's where my mom's space. So I, I lived in Glendenning for a while, and obviously eventually when I got married I moved to Auburn, uh, Silverwater Orban side. So, I've been living there for a while.

[00:01:11] Um, but we are looking at moving, uh, around the same area, around Homebush, just so it's closer to my wife's work and the kids' school and stuff, so, yeah. Yeah. 

[00:01:19] Carlo Selorio: Nice, nice. Well, you, you live near my brother, so Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's right. Yeah. Nice. Um, so, um, tell us about, um, your, how'd you got started in business?

[00:01:28] Mike Ilagan: Uh, look, I've always been business mind ever since I was young. I was like, I remember when I was a kid, I was, I was selling like lollies to kids and stuff, so I was buying like bulk and I was selling for a little profit, like 50 cent profit or something. Mm-hmm. . Um, so in my mind I've always been in the entrepreneurship sort of a mindset.

[00:01:45] Uh, and I knew even as a young age, I would be an entrepreneur one day. I just didn't know what I would. In the future, like how I would get there, but I knew I wanted to be one. Um, and I think really, I, I, I, the, the first time I got into entrepreneurship was [00:02:00] probably, uh, Just after uni or something like that because, um, the hardest part, I think what people won't understand is once you finish uni most people assume you get a job, but you don't, you don't really get a job.

[00:02:10] No. The funny thing is once you get to finish uni, um, you can't find a job unless you get experience. But how do you experience if no one gives you an experience? Right. Doesn't make sense. So Exactly. It was a, it was a problem, like how do I get a job and. I think it, because my, my main industry was graphic design.

[00:02:27] And, uh, for, to, for you to be considered or even be like a, a graphic designer, you need to have at least four or five years experience. And I didn't have that. So, um, that's how I got started business. Cause I'm thinking, alright, maybe I'll. I'll, I'll start a magazine and that will be my portfolio that's gonna serve my portfolio.

[00:02:42] Nice. And um, I can just say, Hey look, I've been working for these magazines for quite some time. And, um, so I started doing that. I started doing flyers for free, doing stuff for free just to get the name out there mm-hmm. and just to build a portfolio. And, uh, from there sort of grew from there. But, um, I never made money for I think five years.

[00:02:59] I lost money [00:03:00] straight. Um, but eventually in the 50, that's when I sort of broke even. So yeah. Mine's like a long journey to Yeah. 

[00:03:07] Carlo Selorio: Sort of get there. Yeah. Magazines are like hard to make money un unless you get some subscribers or Yeah, 

[00:03:14] Mike Ilagan: exactly. That was sponsorships and stuff, so 

[00:03:17] Carlo Selorio: it's, it's pretty hard. Yeah.

[00:03:18] Yeah. Um, so in terms of, um, your magazines, how many magazines are. Do you have at the moment? I know you got probably around, uh, probably around eight. Roughly eight magazines. Wow. Yeah. So what kind, what kind of magazines do you have at the moment? So you have the star Central. Yeah. Look, I usually 

[00:03:35] Mike Ilagan: target the, um, niche market.

[00:03:37] So Star Central is for entertainment. I've got, uh, global Millionaire and, uh, money Central for, um, entrepreneurship. Yeah, I've got in Life International, uh, which is more business and lifestyle. Nice. Um, I've got modeling mode for the modeling industry, sasco for the fashion industry. Uh, I even have Star Central Kids for the, for the young one.

[00:03:58] So yeah, [00:04:00] film Central for the, um, movie. Yeah, so it's enthusiasm. 

[00:04:04] Carlo Selorio: Oh, it's good. It's, I think that's what I love about entrepreneurship. If you go, um, niche markets, You really can target a small audience there, and then you can grow it from there. So you have your Yeah, 

[00:04:19] Mike Ilagan: yeah, exactly. Um, because I think what a lot of people, uh, you know, sort of, cause you know, when, when you talk magazines, you're talking about Vogue and you know, the big ones and, and Forbes Magazine, which is Yeah.

[00:04:26] You can't touch these magazines, man. They, they, they got deep pockets. These guys are extremely rich. They got deep pockets. So what you wanna do is tap into the niche markets, which I did because, uh, there's millions out there who's looked at, you know, who, who wants to get into industry and who wants to know more about up and coming talents.

[00:04:43] And that's what I, I cater for. I, I cater for the up and coming people because I know it's so hard Yeah. To get your voice out. So, yeah. So I thought this was a great way to target me. 

[00:04:52] Carlo Selorio: Yeah, it's, um, I've only met a few people who's doing magazines, I think, you know, like [00:05:00] Nathan Chan from Founder, so, um, oh yeah, yeah.

[00:05:02] I've good at that. Yeah. So he's, he's doing, he's doing millions in his magazines to, yeah. Yeah. Um, what was your biggest wins when you first started? 

[00:05:15] Mike Ilagan: Uh, the biggest win, well, I guess the one I can remember is, um, yeah, when after five years I broke even , that was a, that was a win cause I was losing money for five years of yeah, just go five years.

[00:05:26] And, um, and that included, uh, not just a magazine. Cause also I do a event as well. Yes. So making money of any events or, or magazine, I mean, that's, It's tough if you're getting started, especially if you don't have any background. Cause I had no, uh, background whatsoever. I literally had to just Google and, um, watch YouTube videos, , just to see where it's gonna be at.

[00:05:45] So literally it was more of like a self research. So it's like, uh, finding your way on your journey. So to me, uh, when I finally made a little bit money in Broke, even on the 50, that's, that to me was a massive. Because I'm like, oh, okay. This is something that I can actually [00:06:00] foresee doing in the future.

[00:06:01] Because before I had no plan on how it's gonna be a full-time gig or how it's gonna be, uh, I guess grown or expanded. Yeah. But once that 50 hit and I sort of broke either, I sort of, I saw a bit of vision and how I can move it forward. Yes. Yeah. 

[00:06:16] Carlo Selorio: That's, that's, um, I think a lot of a testament to your, um, hard work.

[00:06:21] Five years of not breaking. Even, or even like losing money is hard for most businesses, as you know. Yeah. Most businesses just fall after the first, first or second year because they're not making any money. Mm. But going five years without making money to be able to, uh, grow your empire, I'd say is, um, publishing Empire is a testament to your hard.

[00:06:45] Oh, and what was your, on the flip side anyway, what events happened where you thought, like, your business won't survive, or you, you were, you thought that there was gonna be, you're gonna pull the plug or something like that. Yeah. [00:07:00] Look, uh,

[00:07:00] Mike Ilagan: when Covid hit, I mean, that was, that was a massive, I mean, I never knew how it was gonna continue.

[00:07:04] I think that's, uh, I'm, I'm talking on behalf of other. Business as well, who, who was also folded, actually, a lot of them have folded and, and, um, and died down because of the covid and the restrictions placed into us. So when Covid hit, I was, I was one of the people, I was like, wow, how, how are we gonna survive this?

[00:07:19] You know? But, uh, look, I've always had my faith that I think that's my biggest thing with business. Um, I've always thought. The only thing that's keeping my business afloat is having my faith in God. That was, that's my biggest thing. I mean, that's, uh, I guess that's what some people don't have. Yeah, true. I had the faith and I was always praying and how I'm gonna move forward and I guess, um, the, cuz the hardest part when Covid hit was that e everyone's at home.

[00:07:40] Everyone's stuck at home. You can't do much. . And in terms of sponsorship, you can't also ask sponsorship from other businesses also losing money. That's true. Yeah. So everyone's losing money, so how can they sponsor you? You better have the money to sponsor you. Yeah. So that's why we had to sort of divert a strategy.

[00:07:55] And I remember, uh, a lot of people, because everyone's stuck at home, a lot of people offering [00:08:00] if they can be featured in the magazine. And uh, we just started charging for, um, I guess featured sponsor. Uh, in the magazine, like, uh, personal people, you know, like if they want to get featured, uh, I will be charged a certain amount.

[00:08:10] I think that's what sort of got us through in the publishing space because, um, because everyone's just stuck at home. No one's going at, you know, no one's, um, uh, putting anything in their Instagram or Facebook. So for me, uh, we had a massive influx of just, um, people, entrepreneurs and entertainers and models and people just wanted to get featured and we.

[00:08:28] Charging a bit here and there. And that's, that's sort of what got us through because from there, um, the revenue kept going and we were able to kept going with the, with the publishing and everything. So yeah, look, it was, it was, uh, I guess it was a, an eye opener for Mario. Like I wouldn't know how to push forward, but that sort of opened the door on another revenue stream and that got us.

[00:08:47] Carlo Selorio: Yeah. That side of things. Yeah. Yeah. I think as you've mentioned, you're not the only one. I think every single person that I've interviewed, uh, for the podcast had, um, didn't know what to do with Covid, especially going [00:09:00] into three years, I think. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It was a long time. Yeah. Yeah. And it was, um, one of those things, People couldn't figure out what to do and a lot of people had to pivot on another business or had to find creative ways to get income for their business.

[00:09:19] Yeah, and it's, it's, it's, it's a great thing for you to find different income streams. You know, especially in during covid times as well. Um, 

[00:09:28] Mike Ilagan: yeah. Cause I guess, um, when I spoke to one of my entrepreneur friends, um, well, he, you know, he owns a lot of business as well. He, one of his biggest advice to me before I even got into the whole thing was, um, uh, he said, don't put all your eggs in the one basket.

[00:09:40] Cause if you only have one revenue stream and that doesn't work, , what's your fallback? And that's why I started generating other revenue streams. Yeah. Besides the publishing space, you know, websites and online, social media and all that. Yeah. Um, because if that fails, then you have no fallback. So yeah, it was a good advice.

[00:09:57] Carlo Selorio: Yeah. Um, what makes [00:10:00] your business stand out from your competitors? Especially in the publishing. Well, I guess 

[00:10:06] Mike Ilagan: the best thing about my business is, um, we don't really have any competitors because, um, majority of the, of the magazines are publications out there. They focus more on the, on the celebrities and the, on the famous people, you know?

[00:10:15] Yeah. People magazine, Vogue and all that. I mean, they. They have plenty of money. , they have deep pockets so they can feature wherever they want. So their, their focus is more on the bigger names, the bigger celebrities. No one really targets, uh, you know, the, the up and coming emerging people. And I think that's one of our biggest strengths is because, um, I don't see any other publication areas sort of focusing on just up and coming talents or entrepreneurs.

[00:10:40] Um, so that's, yeah, I guess one of the biggest edge. 

[00:10:43] Carlo Selorio: Yeah, that's, that's something that I'm actually doing right now. It's like I'm not targeting people who are super celebrities. I'm starting, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm finding people like you who's Yeah. Up and coming, who's making, making their, their way [00:11:00] to start becoming stars.

[00:11:02] Yeah. But I'm able to reach out to people who are actually. Want to share their stories as well. Um, what motivates you daily, Mike? 

[00:11:14] Mike Ilagan: Oh, I guess knowing that you have a family to look after. I mean, that's, that's all it is. You want your family provided My kids, obviously, I want them to grow up comfortable and, uh, you know, and, and, uh, I guess so they can develop to be the best person they can be.

[00:11:27] So to. Family and kids, you know, my wife and kids, that's my main motivation. Wanna make sure they're looked after, at, you know, in the future. 

[00:11:35] Carlo Selorio: Yeah, it's, I got the similar, similar thing that I'm doing. I got, I mentioned before we started, I got three boys and my wife. Yeah. It's, um, it's my main motivation to keep going, especially this my wife is, Been, um, gracious enough to help me and like, support me in this podcasting journey that I'm doing.

[00:11:57] Yeah. And like I, I'll wait to them [00:12:00] to, um, to be motivated and get, get, um, what I'm trying to achieve here. Yeah. Uh, in terms of influences growing up, who were your influences in business or even outside of business? 

[00:12:14] Mike Ilagan: Uh, influence influences. Um, oh, look, I really had no, uh, my only, uh, I guess either growing up was my parents say because they work hard.

[00:12:23] Uh, and they, they provide a role for the family, especially my mom and yeah, my mom and dad. But, um, but they were never the entrepreneurs, uh, kind of thing. They were more, even, even, I remember, uh, I, I didn't even tell my mom. I quit my job, uh, about six, seven years ago. Because I remember my mom, man, she's, she's just like, Most filler mums, she's very into, oh, you have to have a job, just a traditional writer.

[00:12:44] You need to have a job secure, you have your family and stuff. But my path was different. So even when I quit my, um, my, my main job about six, seven years ago, I never told anyone. Oh, my wife knew. Um, but no one else knew. Um, that I've been, and then after I've been gone for two, [00:13:00] two years, that's when I told my mom, Hey, I've been, I've quit my job a while back, , and she can't do anything anymore.

[00:13:05] She can't really tell me off cause I've already quit my job. You know? So, and I've been going at her for a while. Yeah. Um, but to me, I guess as an influence, I, I love their hard work. They just go out there. They, they work hard. I remember my. Would wake up early in the morning, come home late at night, as in like two or three in the morning.

[00:13:22] So I'm thinking, look, if they can do it, I can do it as wrong. And at the end of the day, it's all about your motivation. If you're motivated enough, you, you'll do whatever it takes to make work. And to me it's just no choice really. . Yeah. It's either you're out on the streets or have no food on the table, or you wanna work hot.

[00:13:37] It's just one way or the other. 

[00:13:39] Carlo Selorio: Yeah. We're, we're lucky here in Australia. Uh, we have, um, we. Great structures here with, in terms of like other things, but um, in terms of. Motivation. I think my parents were exactly like your parents, who Yeah. Yeah. Were, who just, I think at the end of the day, they just want what's best for, [00:14:00] for their kids.

[00:14:00] Exactly. Exactly. Um, in going forward, Mike, um, what are your big goals for all your businesses in like the next. Three to 10 years. 

[00:14:13] Mike Ilagan: Oh, look, as with anyone, I mean, we, we all wanna expand. Um, I guess from mine, I wanna expand more into other countries. I al I always have, uh, I already have, uh, some, a number of followings in other countries as well, but I guess more.

[00:14:25] Yeah, I guess more of a global reach as well. Um, so we, we, we have a lot of audience. Majority is in obviously Australia and US, and so we got a big audience in us. We also have big audience in uk, uh, New Zealand, even Dubai and Asian countries. So I wanna, I guess, Expand more and get more global audience as well.

[00:14:41] Yeah. Um, that's with any media. Uh, if you have a media business, that's what you wanna do. Just grow. You really should get more global. Um, and I guess that's, uh, that's how you get more people to take notice of your publications. 

[00:14:52] Carlo Selorio: Yeah. Nice. How about your, um, your, your website business? How, how do you want to go that as.

[00:14:58] Uh, look, 

[00:14:58] Mike Ilagan: uh, we, we have [00:15:00] clients, uh, cuz we actually have clients that, that we do websites for and we even manage their social media and stuff. So I guess from that end, we'll just, um, keep looking for, especially now that with, with, uh, COVID not as much of a factor as it is last year, uh, we can start looking for more businesses who would be open to, uh, getting their websites done or getting the social media looked after, because now the revenue stream's coming to everyone.

[00:15:22] Yes. So I. Um, hopefully, anyway, we're hoping that, um, we'll get more, more clients that way in love with my other business. Nice 

[00:15:30] Carlo Selorio: fingers cross. Yeah. Um, in terms of, um, I know you've, you've got. A lot of entrepreneurial friends in business. You've learned a lot of business in the last, let's say, 10 years or so.

[00:15:45] Yeah. Um, what's your top three advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners? Top three advice. 

[00:15:51] Mike Ilagan: Uh, Probably the, the num first one is don't quit your day job just yet. I mean, that's a, I think one of the biggest misconceptions, you know, how you, you watch someone,[00:16:00]  uh, you know, like at, you know, Tony Robbins or something like that, you get motivated.

[00:16:02] I'm like, oh, I wanna quit my job. And you know how a lot of people were saying, oh, you know, you, you do your four day work week, whatever. Uh, a lot of people make the mistakes of, of like, oh, I'll quit my job as well. Cause that's what they're saying. I'm motivated. I'm like, get in there. But once you quit your.

[00:16:16] Where you gonna get the money to? You buy your food and look after your family? So one of my, the biggest mistake anyone can do is quitting your, your day job when you're not ready yet. If you think, you know, when, when, let's say you're doing your day job, you have your side hustle there and it's working out, and the money's generating, and you think you can sustain the business, that's when you quit your day.

[00:16:37] I wouldn't recommend putting a day job until you're, you're fully ready and the revenue is constant and you know how to sustain the business. Yeah. Um, I, that's probably one of my biggest advice. Uh, second one is probably do your research. Don't jump into any, um, I guess any business that you, you've seen in TV or heard your friends say, oh, this is a great business and you should be doing this.

[00:16:57] Don't jump into anything unless you do your research. You gotta [00:17:00] do your own research. That's , that's something that you have, you can't just rely on people doing it for you. Yeah. You know, um, you gotta know the inside out of your business, and then you, you then, then from there, you can actually build a business around it.

[00:17:10] You can't build a business on just hearsay. That's, that's, uh, that's what I would say. And third one is probably build, uh, a strong network because, um, you cannot, uh, establish a business without people that can help you collaborate with you. Um, that's one of the main things I've learned in my, I guess, 17 years of being in business.

[00:17:26] Nice. Um, it's about building relationships and building friends along the way. Yeah. Um, cause these people also support you. You can support them and it's, it goes a long way when you have a big support. Yeah. Um, cause I don't think I'll be anywhere near, uh, you know, where my business is at if I didn't start building friends and, and collaborators and, um, and connections along the way.

[00:17:45] Even now, every, every time I go to an event, uh, I meet new people. These are new people that could, I could bring into my business. Gotta help my business. That's true. And I can help them. It's a, it's a win-win for everyone. So, yeah, that's probably my top three. 

[00:17:56] Carlo Selorio: Three great advice that you. [00:18:00] Or anyone can use to grow and start a business.

[00:18:04] It's perfect. It's perfect for, for any business that wanna wanna start because it's just basic principles that help you along to get started. Hmm. Um, how do you want to impact the world and what kind of legacy do you want to have? Uh, 

[00:18:20] Mike Ilagan: I guess the legacy I wanna have is probably, um, uh, someone who, who helped people.

[00:18:25] I've always been the, the helping kind, you know? Um, I mean obviously you need, you need to generate, uh, revenue for your business to keep it going, but, uh, I would like to leave the legacy of, okay, this person helped a lot of people. That's how I, I would wanna be seen as, uh, eventually once I leave, everyone dies at some point.

[00:18:41] Uh, From Mylan, I would be, I wanna be known for someone who helped a lot of people. Um, cause whenever I can, I even, that's, that's the main, um, focus of, of all my publications and all my projects. Anyway, it's just to help other people, uh, get into the, their foot in the door and stuff. Um, yeah, and once, you know, once you have more revenue than you can help charities and you can [00:19:00] help more people as well.

[00:19:01] But at the end of the day, I. . Even if you're, you become extremely rich, you know, like a billionaire or something, what are you gonna do with all that money? It doesn't go anywhere. When you die, all that money just goes to waste. Really. You can't be touching. Yeah. So, you know, once you have enough money in your pocket, then you start helping people out.

[00:19:18] Um, make other people feel good. That's how I look at things, you know? Nice. Um, if one day I'm blessed to be that rich , you know, where I'm like on a multimillionaire billion level, I would like to help as many people as I. 

[00:19:29] Carlo Selorio: Nice. Because 

[00:19:30] Mike Ilagan: at the end of the day, that's what you bring in, into your, into the afterlife.

[00:19:33] Yeah. 

[00:19:34] Carlo Selorio: I think it's, um, I think you are more than halfway or you are actually doing it now. So you are, I think your legacy is actually being played out as, as we speak , hopefully. Um, another fun question for you, if you could recommend one book to our listen. , um, what should they read and what would it be and why?[00:20:00]

[00:20:00] Mike Ilagan: Oh, one book. Um, I would probably, oh look, I mean there's like a million business books out there. Yeah. I mean, uh, you can, you can probably choose whatever you want, but, uh, a book I would recommend is probably the Bible . Cause that's something that a lot of people don't really Yeah. Read, you know, even just one, a bit of a passage here and there.

[00:20:17] Yeah. Because I think what a lot of people sort of miss out is, um, alright, anyone can be focused on their business and anyone can and can. So busy in their lifestyle, which we all are anyway, but you're gonna have time for faith because at the end of the day, you can't be anywhere without your faith.

[00:20:32] That's my belief. That's true as a Christian. Um, my belief is that, and no matter how, how good you are in your business, there are things that you can't control. Like Covid, COVID can happen. You can be the most, uh, the biggest business out there, which we know, we know, we've seen in the news some of the biggest businesses out there, uh, even folded because of.

[00:20:49] Yeah. I mean these guys with deep pockets can fall. Anyone can fall. Yeah. What about the small business? So to me, faith is number one. You should always nurture your faith as your number one priority [00:21:00] and then everything else will fall into place. 

[00:21:01] Carlo Selorio: Yeah. So, and the Bible has actually, it's got some great business advice there if you read.

[00:21:09] Read the Bible as 

[00:21:10] Mike Ilagan: well, so, yeah. Well look, I mean, it's uh, what's, it's a really big book, so there's plenty of, you can 

[00:21:16] Carlo Selorio: pick up from now on. Yeah. Uh, um, thank you Mike for like a great chat. Um, it's been, it's, I know that you're a busy guy. Um, um, thank you for all your advice and thank you for that. Um, if the listeners need help with business or they have a question that they want to ask you or they want to work with you, what is the best way to, for them to reach.

[00:21:37] Mike Ilagan: Oh yeah, look, uh, just contact, um, our, our admin, which is info star central Nice. And, um, someone should be able to pick it up and flag it to my attention and, uh, get the ball 

[00:21:47] Carlo Selorio: rolling. Yeah. And, and I'll, what I'll, what I'll do is I'll put all your. What's your website again? So that I'll, the listeners can go have a look at what you are doing.

[00:21:59] [00:22:00] Oh yeah. I'll put, I'll put all your handles there as well so that they can go check out your little empire that you have there. , 

[00:22:08] Mike Ilagan: look up. The main one I'm known for is star central Um, but if you wanna get to know our other publications, it's uh, it's star central That's where it's all the publications are.

[00:22:21] Carlo Selorio: Nice. Thank you again, Mike for a, a great chat. Thank you for your time. I know that. You are juggling hundred things at once, plus trying to manage the family life as well. Yeah. And uh, truly appreciate your time and um, yeah, thank you. And hopefully we can go play ball sometime again. Yeah, yeah, no problem.

[00:22:43] Sounds good. Yeah, thanks Mike. And um, yeah, have a great 

[00:22:46] Mike Ilagan: day. Same with you, man. Thanks for having me.