‘It’s more fun in the Philippines for startups’

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

STARTUP TALK. (From left) TechTalks.ph founder Tina Amper, prominent tech investor Dave McClure of 500 Startups and IdeaSpace founder Earl Valencia discuss issues startups in a press conference held during the Geeks On A Beach tech event. (Allan Tangcawan)


IT’S MORE fun in the Philippines this and in the coming years not only for tourists but also for startups.

That was how IdeaSpace Foundation Inc. founder Earl Valencia branded the present startup ecosystem in the Philippines in a talk before more than 300 participants of the Geeks on a Beach 2.

Speaking in the Movenpick Hotel in Mactan Island, Valencia noted macro factors that have contributed to its growth, citing the improvements in the country’s economy, which has now become the second-fastest growing in Asia, and improvements in the Philippines’ investment grade.

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“The Philippines can lead the emerging market innovation,” Valencia said, particularly citing the presence of strong mobile solutions using mobile applications and software.

He said there has been an increase in the number of startups seeking to provide solutions to present day problems and introducing innovations along the process.

IdeaSpace, for example, records 1,320 submitted entries from startups.

The funding part, which is vital to the growth of a startup, has also been improving in the Philippines in the past two years, Valencia stressed.

“Funding is flowing in the Philippines. There is a funding path from research and development to expansion and this is happening in the past two and one half years (now),” Valencia said.

IdeaSpace records more than $17 billion in aggregate company donors' revenues, the official said. Meanwhile, Kickstart Ventures invested close to $2 million in funds and raised funding of $8.5 million, according president Minette Navarrete.

Incubators provide mentorship and initial funding to startups.

But to further spur the present startup ecosystem in the Philippines, Voyager Innovations chief operations officer and Smart eMoney Inc managing director Benjie S. Fernandez called on for a stronger collaboration among startups and investors.

Navarrete, in her talk, told investors not to be “too hard” on startups especially when they really see potential in them.

She said there are some investors who ask for too much shares of the company even when it’s still starting out. “If you are an investor, you’ve got to invest. If you make a mistake, err on the side of generosity,” she said.

Martin Pascual of Nest Investments said that for a startup to be considered by an investor, the team has to convince the latter that what they are making is a business.

“Present a credible business. Demonstrate to the investors that you can build it.

Convince them that you can build a business,” Pascual advised startups.

Khailee Ng of 500 Startups, meanwhile, warned startups to be wary of “predatory” investors who control “so much” of the growth of startups.

Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play co-founder Jojo Flores advised startups that in dealing with investors they have to know the business side of their product.

“Venture capitalists, some of them, can become predatory if they know that you don’t
know the business,” Flores said.

Industry players also reminded startups to take advantage of startup events like GOAB in networking and finding investors.

“Talk to as many people as you can. We (investors) are always on the lookout for founders (startups). Help us choose you,” Ng said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2014.

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