4 Cebu-based start-ups make it-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
OUT of 17 start-up companies that have qualified to join the first Hack2Hatch event next month, four are based in Cebu.
Hack2Hatch co-chair Alvin Gendrano, who is also director of Microsoft Philippines’ developer and platform group, said these 17 finalists stand out over the 50 applicants they reviewed because of the team composition, the level of development their product is in and the creativity of the video they have submitted with their application.
Gendrano said the video will give them an idea of the extent of a team’s creativity and how badly they want to win. They have five more slots open and encouraged those who already sent in their applications to bolster their submissions to give themselves a better chance of getting in.
Called the “grad school of start-ups,” the Hack2Hatch event will award six startup companies with P100,000 seed money each and hook them up with industry experts from Silicon Valley who can review their companies and guide them on their next direction.
One of the mentors is said to be connected with Facebook, although organizers declined to identify him yet.
Gendrano hopes those who win can use the seed fund to work full time on their start-up companies. He admitted that most of those starting their own companies have to work for other companies or accept freelance jobs to continue operating their start-up. The seed money is meant to allow them to pay for operational costs and focus on their own companies.
Aside from the seed money and mentoring, the top six start-ups will also get a free trip and pass to the Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev) Economic Forum on Oct. 8 in Manila, which will have as highlight a discussion by Google vice president Dr. Eric Brewer and other global entrepreneurs who have succeeded in the global space.
“We’re seeing overwhelming interest for the first hack2hatch camp in Cebu. Fifty startup teams applied for the available slots before we closed the registration last week. It’s great to see startups from Manila, Pampanga, Dumaguete, Tacloban and Bicol willing to make the trip to Cebu,” said Gendrano. He noted that the youngest applicant was just 14 years old.
Slots for 50 observers are also available for the second day. Though the event is sold out, organizers hope to hold other sessions to three times a year around the Philippines and in the Filipino community in the United States.
The Cebu-based groups that qualified are the teams behind Codetoki, Spelldial, MiiMove and UnliFM.
Albert Padin and Nicole Macarasig of Spelldial admitted the struggles they had to face in continuing their startup.
Their energies were fueled by the movie “The Social Network,” which tells the story of how Facebook was founded, and inspiring stories from Silicon Valley. Instead, their group struggled with unmet expectations and a good dose of reality after first starting it two years ago.
“I thought that after a week, we would get one million users. That didn’t happen,” said Padin, saying they got 400 users the first week they put up the site.
He and Macarasig started with eight other friends. Now, they are just down to three members, as the others decided to get jobs, start other things or go back to school.
A lesson they learned was that the Philippine landscape is so different from Silicon Valley and they realized their expectations were too high, with investors willing to fund their startup if they owned 60 percent of the company.
Spelldial currently has 4,000 users and the pair hopes to do well at Hack2Hatch to continue with their idea.
As for Codetoki, founders Honey Balingcasag and Ademar Tutor will be launching their learning platform next week. They had to change their platform because the previous one “did not fit the goal” and they promised that the new one will offer a different user experience.
Hack2Hatch is a series of pitching and presentation sessions where startup groups receive one-on-one mentorship from leading global entrepreneurs so they can learn how to present to venture capitalists and win seed money to fund and grow their business.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 26, 2012.