Music to their ears

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Monday, June 9, 2014


GROWING up the third of eight children of a musician was hard, said programmer Victoriano E. Eco II. Money was scarce and at times, bills, including school fees, weren’t paid on time.

Eco comes from a family of musicians. His father plays the piano and sings. Two of his brothers play in bands, one’s a pianist and the other is a guitarist and singer. A sister also plays the piano.

Eco, himself, was trained by his father to play the piano. But he also learned one other thing from his father: a musician’s life isn’t easy. Often, payments for performances were delayed and at times, did not come at all. Eco decided to pursue a separate but more lucrative field: computer programming.

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Last Sunday night, Eco’s pitch for a web service to help establishments book musicians and to assist musicians in the booking and collection of payments won Startup Weekend Cebu 4. The service is called GigBox.

Eco and teammates Jeb Saldariega and Nathan Salugsugan won as part of the prizes business incubation enrolment in an incubator here in Cebu and an accelerator in Singapore in order to build GigBox into a business. Salugsugan made the final pitch before the judges, with the soft-spoken Eco on the sidelines, and shared the story of a bar owner having problems because a band cancelled at the last minute and the alternate didn’t return calls.

Placing second was Likha, an online service for ordering and customizing T-shirts. In third place was Just Because, an SMS alert system for events. The name is from their pitch “just because you are offline” doesn’t mean you won’t get updated about events.

54 hours to create

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that starts with people pitching ideas for a business on Friday night. Attendees then form teams to build the ideas into a working prototype over the weekend for presentation before a panel of judges on Sunday evening.

Startup Weekend Cebu 4 was held as part of the Cebu Business Month celebration of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Among the ideas and prototypes presented during the event was a system to help consumers manage and pay their bills, a GPS-based app that shows the exchange rates in various currency exchange facilities in Cebu, a platform that allows anyone to teach or learn courses, an app that allows you to easily play with photos to create memes and a Bitcoin-based remittance system.

Startup Weekend launches potential entrepreneurs “into a future.”

“Whatever that future is, it will be up to you,” TechTalks.ph founder Tina Amper told participants last Sunday night. TechTalks organizes Startup Weekend events all over the country.

Amper said the event shows participants the possibility of making a living as a tech entrepreneur. But they need to work hard and to push their ideas, she said.

Pia Angeli Bernal of incubator Kickstart said it was important for startups to start with an actual problem that they can offer solutions for. Often, she said, startups have a potential solution and they’re looking for a problem that they can solve using it.

Bernal emphasized the importance of “product/market fit” and how startups should continually validate their ideas.

Bernal also said it was important for startups to practice their pitches. She said a good idea would not be able to move forward if it is presented badly.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 10, 2014.

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