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Norbert and Mylene Ante are the founders of iChips Plus.

PHOTO BY JONATHAN YBERA/EXPAT MEDIA


Couple ups the ante with Dubai’s gold standard for chips

An aerospace engineer and a seasoned entrepreneur have combined hands to run a snack business that has taken a meteoric rise in Dubai’s food scene.

Expatmedia.net spoke with the Antes, the power couple with the knack for snacks behind IRVINS Salted Egg, what foodies in the UAE consider the gold standard for chips.

Norbert and Mylene Ante are the exclusive UAE distributors and retailers of IRVINS Salted Egg, Singapore’s “dangerously addictive” snack. The chips are made with premium ingredients, such as natural salted egg flavor, aged cheddar and Italian truffle.

Norbert, an aerospace engineer, and Mylene, an entrepreneur with a degree in Business Management, say their franchise of the popular Singapore snack started with a bite. “Our relatives in Singapore gifted us IRVINS Salted Egg. We fell in love with the flavour,” Mylene says.

Both avid foodies, Norbert and Mylene thought of bringing the brand to the UAE under their iChips Plus company. “The food market is booming in this region, and we looked at the possibility of getting involved in serving the need for premium products. IRVINS is one of those products we found suitable to be in this market,” Norbert says.

Getting the distributorship wasn’t easy, Mylene says. “At first they turned us down,” she recalls.

Eventually they were able to convince the brand owners that there was a market for IRVINS in the UAE. Now, their IRVINS Salted Egg franchise has outlets in Deira City Centre and DMCC Metro, as well as Abu Dhabi Mall. It is also distributed in supermarkets and restaurants, including Little Bangkok, Grandiose and Super Bowl.

“We are working with the League of Food and Beverages entrepreneurs, and our products will also be sold in Kusinerong Pinoy, Baofriend, Joy Bubble Tea and Agemono Express,” Mylene says, adding that they are looking at expanding in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries.

Power couple

Norbert and Mylene have been married for 23 years, and they say running a business together has brought them even closer.

The couple first landed in Dubai in 2009 after Norbert received an offer to manage a multinational firm that supplies products and services to Emirates airline. To join her husband, Mylene quit her job of managing several businesses in the Philippines, ranging from import and export, marketing, advertising, and real estate.

Norbert and Mylene Ante are the founders of iChips Plus.

“Our goal was just to stay here for five years and come back to the Philippines,” Mylene says. They founded iChips Plus in 2019, with Mylene as CEO and Norbert as head of operations. “Two minds are better than one,” Mylene says.

The couple recently hatched another venture: Celebrity District, the first Filipino-owned restobar in Dubai. “We were convinced there is a market for this business since Filipinos in Dubai love to spend on fun and entertainment. We were offered the chance to be part owners of the restobar. It’s exciting to be part of another business venture catering to the needs of Filipinos,” Norbert says.

What is their secret to building a successful business together? “We always talk,” Mylene says. “Open communication and compromise,” Norbert adds.

“At the end of the day, we have the same goal. We used to have separate lives. I am working in airplanes, she is working on various types of businesses. But when we get into the IRVINS or iChips company that we established, we become a cohesive team supporting each other,” Norbert says.

IRVINS Salted Egg

Why is IRVINS so expensive?

We use premium food ingredients, including sustainably farmed cream dory fish, salmon and fresh duck egg yolks salt-brined for 30 days. Our products are Halal certified, Keto friendly and have no preservatives.

How else can you eat IRVINS chips?

There are other ways of eating IRVINS chips than just straight off the bag. Combine it with your pinakbet, porridge, garlic rice, kare-kare, chopsuey, pancit bihon or palabok.

This story also appears in the Expat Media Special Edition Magazine


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