THE Geeks on a Beach (GOAB) international technology conference, held in Panglao, Bohol last Aug. 25 and 26, was bigger and better on its fourth year.
Soaring high from its debut in Boracay in 2013, this year’s GOAB made a breakthrough with its partnership with the iconic US-based technology accelerator Techstars and Facebook’s internet.org “free internet” advocacy.
“The Techstars Asia-Pacific Summit, a private gathering of 100 startup weekend leaders in the region, was held in the same venue two days prior to GOAB. This year’s GOAB also featured stronger ties with StartupPH.org, a newly formed umbrella organization of advocates for Philippine startups and tech industry. StartupPH.org includes the core group that completed the Philippine Startup Roadmap in 2015,” said Tina Amper, TechTalks.ph founder and GOAB organizer.
“Apart from the wider participation of the international community with delegates from the US, Singapore, Malaysia, among others, the recently concluded GOAB was also marked by stronger government support with the inspiring presence of Sen. Bam Aquino and Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto,” added Amper. Aquino is a strong proponent of the Philippine startup bill.
Meanwhile, key government supporters from previous GOAB are now part of the newly installed Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). Monchito Ibrahim, who was previously head of the now defunct Department of Science and Technology Information and Communication Technology Office and oversaw the crafting of the PH Startup Roadmap in consultation with the startup community, is now program director of DICT’s e-Innovation.
With the theme “Empowering startups, leading change,” GOAB was organized by TechTalks.ph, co-organized by the DICT, and co-presented by PLDT SME Nation, Smart, Smart DevNet, Ideaspace and PLDT Innolab.
GOAB was held in partnership with the Bohol Provincial Government and Bohol ICT Council. Major organizational partners were Internet.org by Facebook and FbStart from Facebook. This year’s official airline partner was Philippines AirAsia. Silver Sponsors were Zalora, Mynimo, Teradoor, Pouch Nation, A Space, Infocomm Investments, and South Palms Resorts Panglao, while Bronze Sponsors were Yoyo Holdings, Payoneer, Eurekloud, USAID-Stride, US Embassy, Launchgarage, StarTechUp Inc., Eastern Communications, RTI International, Piktochart, Office of Sen. Bam Aquino, Microsoft, Intel, Uniform Solutions, Department of Tourism and Be Grand Resort Bohol.
GOAB organizational partners were the Philippines Software Industry Association, National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, UP CebuInit.org, CedFIT.org, Game Developers Association of the Philippines, Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines, Developers Connect, STAC Silicon Valley and GoNegosyo.
GOAB media partners were Auza.Net, Tech in Asia, Geeks in Cambodia, Hubnob.tv, InnoPub Media, Mytechisland.com, Zerothreetwo.com, Jumpstart Magazine, Mobile Ecosystem Forum, Asian Journal Publications, Balikbayan Magazine, Innovation is Everywhere, e27, Newsdesk Asia, WazzupPilipinas, Esooped.com, Istorya.net, Expat Philippines, PayPerClick.ph, TopTen.ph, Escooped.com, Istorya.net, Expat Philippines, PayPerClick.ph, TopTen.ph and Our Awesome Planet.
GOAB supporters were Islands, Hybridigm, Innovantage, Skyeye Inc., Purple Cow, Amun Ini Beach Resort and Havaianas.
GOAB founding sponsors are Smart, Smart Bro, Smart Devnet, Ideaspace, Mynimo.com, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, STAC Silicon Valley, Islands, Istorya.net, GT Cosmetics, Chef on Demand and Ng Khai Development Corp.
GOAB is powered by Sym.ph. GOAB branding is by HappyGaraje, and PR management by PR Works.
“GOAB is still playing a major role in the evolution and growth of the Philippine startup ecosystem, especially in gathering together the thriving innovation communities across the archipelago,” said David Overton, chief executive officer (CEO) of Sym.ph and Chief GOAB Geek.
“This year’s GOAB continues the tradition of offering a unique combination featuring the latest tech developments and bringing together the best minds in the startup world while maintaining a fun and chill atmosphere by the beach,” added Overton.
The two-day tech confab was held in the Bellevue Hotel in Panglao, Bohol.Participants were presented with sessions featuring topics ranging from launching your startup, funding options, digital marketing, the latest trends in tech and social media, UX/UI design, drones and various topics in software programming. The agenda provided many opportunities for collaboration among attendees and speakers, enabling deeper connections among them.
What makes GOAB unique is the easy availability of attendees to connect and the 48-hour opportunity to mingle since many of the attendees stayed in the conference hotel or nearby. So participants saw each other at breakfast, at the conference, at dinner, at after-dinner socials, and back again on the second day. “Whether they are an investor, or CEO, or anybody else at the event, everyone was just an arm’s reach away,” said a tech attendee.
Some of the biggest names in the international tech and startup scene were there: Techstars co-founder and managing partner David Brown, Startup Weekend co-founder Marc Nager, Chris McCann of Greylock Partners, Crowdsourcing Week founder and CEO Epi Ludvik Nekaj, 500 Startups managing partner/investor Khailee Ng, 500 Startups corporate innovation director Arnaud Bonzom, Zalora Philippines managing director Constantine Robertz, PLDT SME Nation head Mitch Locsin, Ideaspace.ph managing director Diane Eustaquio, TechTalks chief content officer Robert Cristobal, Citrix principal UX designer Philip McKay, and STAC Silicon Valley president Cristina Laskowski.
“Many (participants) came prepared and pre-researched the speakers and companies presenting as they were looking for business leads or funding for their startups. One entrepreneur indicated that he already secured two large business opportunities, and that was just day one,” said Amper.
“The global spotlight is now on the Philippines. We will carry on to work hard supporting the ultra-dynamic startup communities. We call on the corporate community to reach out and connect with us and our innovation-driven founders because startups are the future. Here is their opportunity to leapfrog routine problems and solve them with technology and innovators in their own cities,” she said.
Amper said the next GOAB is in the works with organizers regrouping as early as one week after the recently concluded event to draw ideas for an even bigger GOAB 5. (PR)