Ng: Fostering startup culture

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Thursday, July 31, 2014


I ATTENDED a recent meeting with organizers of Geeks on a Beach 2, which is going to be held this August in Movenpick and is already attracting dozens of venture capitalists as well as techies from overseas, including Silicon Valley.

Part of the discussion was on how to promote a startup culture. There were many opinions shared during our talk, but I think one of the key factors is that there are hardly any success stories that people can identify with. People will only start to believe when they see actual people making it.

Most of us identify not with concepts but with people. The Silicon Valley folklore is alive with stories from Steve Jobs of Apple to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Larry Page of Google. And it is their stories that inspire people to try it out.

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This is the same in the Philippines – how many people became fascinated with chess when Eugene Torre became the first grandmaster of Asia or how people became infatuated with soccer when the Azkals started winning some games. Needless to say, millions are fascinated with boxing because of Manny Pacquiao and millions in China are taking up piano lessons because of Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

We have rags to riches stories, yes, but these are the Gokongweis, the Lucio Tans, the Consunjis, the Andrew Tan of Megaworld and the Sy of SM. We have people who made it big in the fastfood business – Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee and Injap Sia of Mang Inasal, and I would think thousands in the fastfood business are inspired by them.

But not very many are in the tech arena – the name of Dado Banatao who made it big in Silicon Valley comes to mind, but maybe his age makes it more difficult for the youth to identify with him. I believe that once somebody really starts to make it on the tech arena, many more will follow.

The other comment was that while we have a lot of tech talent, many of them don’t have the management or skills to run a successful business. A successful business needs a combination of finance, marketing, sales, human resource, design and management skills, not just tech prowess alone, to succeed. I myself have seen many of these products and pitches, and yes, while there are a lot of great ideas, many of them will need a lot of work, and finetuning to have a stab at success.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I got a pack from a local developer who recently released an Apple IOS game called Jump for your Life. This is an app developed by a Filipino company called YesPleaseGames and their website is at www.yespleasegames.com.

The game is newly released and is available for free at the App Store. The marketing materials look polished, the demo and videos look cool and it looks like a well designed graphics game. Let us support our Filipino developers. Download the app, and if you like it, give it a really good rating. There have been some apps in the Apple App Store by Filipinos that have enjoyed success, let add one more. To the officers of YesPleaseGames, more power! (www.twitter.com/wilsonng)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 01, 2014.

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