‘Best time’ for PH startups-A A +A
Thursday, September 26, 2013
GEEKS IN BORACAY. (From left) Smart developer evangelist Paul Pajo, IdeaSpace president Earl Valencia, Sym.ph founder Dave Overton, TechTalks.ph founder Tina Amper, World Startup Report Bowei Gai, DOSTICTO deputy executive director Mon Ibrahim, Plug&Play Tech Center co-founder Jojo Flores, and SpellDial founder Albert Padin talk to reporters about the Geeks On A Beach technology event in Boracay Island. (Alex Badayos photo/Sun.Star Cebu)
BORACAY ISLAND – Citing the country’s economic gains and fast growing IT sector, technopreneurs said during the Geeks On A Beach (GOAB) tech and startup conference yesterday that now is the “best time” for the Philippines to create more startup companies.
Orlando Vea, chief wireless officer and founder of Smart Communications, Inc., said there is a massive improvement in the country’s startup scene which, if maximized and supported, will make the country a global technology hub.
“We’ve got an abundance of innovative minds,” Vea said.
IdeaSpace president Earl Valencia said that for the first time, the startup ecosystem in the Philippines is “almost complete” from research and development to funding. The challenge, though, is to get everybody on board.
Valencia said the country needs more large companies to support the startup community, because this is one of the missing links in growing the ecosystem.
He said the startup community and its various partners from the government, academe and private sectors need to act together or collaborate immediately while the country is in the radar of potential investors.
“We still have five more years to prove to the global startup community what we’ve got. We have started it, so let’s keep the momentum going,” Valencia said.
Bowei Gai, founder of World Startup Report, said the rise of startups in the Philippines is boosted by the country’s high Internet penetration, text-savvy young generation and English speaking population.
Gai, who travelled to 36 cities for nine months to assess the startup communities around the globe, said Asia remains a huge market for startup companies, given its huge population.
He said, however, that the country has to strengthen its startup community first before thinking about attracting venture capitalists. He said money will come after investors see the potential of startups.
The two-day GOAB is the first such conference in the Philippines organized by TechTalks.ph, the lead organizer that brought Startup Weekend to Cebu and Davao.
The event drew in 300 participants composed of entrepreneurs and founders, web
designers, venture capitalists, students, investors and angel investors. The event aims to highlight the country as a viable destination to do business.
Although the startup community in the country is still in its infancy, Valencia said the series of startup activities happening across the country is a “coming-out party” for the Philippines in terms of its openness about being a global hub for “IT-preneurship.”
“This is a platform for us to tell the world that we are open for business,” said Valencia. He said that given the right support, Philippines will become an “epicenter” of technology and innovation.
“If we are able to do this well with passion, we can create an industry that can complement with the BPO industry, this time in entrepreneurship and technology,” said Jojo Flores co-founder of Plug & Play Tech Center.
Flores said he hopes the Philippines can create more successful startup companies to help generate more employment, similar to the 26,000 startup companies that have graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which are now employing three million individuals and generating revenues of $2 trillion per year.
“If one school can create 26,000 companies what more can our country do if we have that same passion?” said Flores.
Local startup players said there have been improvements in the Philippine startup ecosystem and the “digital explosion” happening globally has opened opportunities to a lot of players.
Paco Sandejas of Narra Ventures recalled how it was difficult to build a successful startup before because of the lack of infrastructure. He said businesses that were in demand those days were related to services and electronics, which needed huge capital.
Today, Sandejas said the birth of cloud infrastructure is now making startup ventures
easier and affordable.
The change of mindset from employee to entrepreneur is also gaining popularity among the youth these days, he said.
While there are opportunities for the country’s startup community to propagate, there are also challenges that need to be addressed such as the continued migration of skilled IT talents overseas and the lack of funding for startups.
To ensure the continued growth of the startup community in the country, Mon Ibrahim, deputy-executive director of the Department of Science and Technology-Information Communication Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) said initiatives have been put in place, particularly in bringing IT to the countryside.
Louis Napoleon Casambre, executive director of DOST-ICTO, said in a speech delivered by Ibrahim that the agency is welcoming the new breed of technology innovators as they play a role in uplifting the economy.
One of DOST’s initiatives is its partnership with the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) for Spring.ph, project which aims to bring to market at least 10 globally-recognized Filipino-made software products by 2016, each generating $1 million in annual revenues.
Ibrahim said they have also started inviting startup companies in their sales mission abroad. “We believe the Philippines is not just about having excellent skills for outsourcing but also in innovation,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 27, 2013.