Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Building a start-up company


YOU might have heard of the concept of a start-up from the famous Kdrama series starring Nam Joo-Hyuk, Bae Suzy, Kim Seon-Ho, and Kang Han-na.

Many have been hooked and curious about the nitty-gritty of establishing your own tech company. Thanks to this Kdrama, more people became familiar that this industry actually exists. In the Philippines, different private companies and government agencies have been assisting potential young entrepreneurs who chose to develop a start-up and eventually manage their own business with it.

On Tuesday, August 10, we invited the director of the Innovation and Technology Support Office of the Ateneo de Davao University Engr. Jason Te Occidental and some of the people behind the Hayahay! App Adrian Christian Bernardino (chief executive officer), Abi Ong Sitjar (chief operating officer), and Donevir Hynson (chief information officer) -- all four of them in their 20s.

Here are just some of the things we talked about in last Tuesday’s episode of Twenty Something:

When is a company considered a start-up?

Jason: It’s a company that has a new business model. It is earning money or has an opportunity to earn money in the future. It should be technology-enabled and scalable. It means that it uses a certain type of technology -- may it be IT-based, mechanical, electrical -- as long as you use innovative technology. When you try to implement it here in Davao City, we can try to expand it throughout Mindanao or the Philippines or even throughout the world. Examples of existing start-up companies include ride-hailing services, delivery services, even bed and breakfast services where you can book hotels. It works here, it works in other places and can grow exponentially. That’s what sets it apart from an SME (small and medium enterprise). Lastly, a start-up should have a minimum viable product - you’re trying to offer something. So that’s very important. It’s either a product or a service. Whatever you’re trying to envision or you’re trying to solve, it should be solved at a minimum.

What are the types of support available for aspiring start-up entrepreneurs?

Jason: There’s actually what we call a technology business incubator. When we talk about a university-based incubator, it doesn’t mean we only cater to those students. We’ve taken start-ups of those that are not alumni, as long as they have the interest in joining the program. We do start-up support, we have them register their business, we try to link them to mentors. There is a grant from the Department of Science and Technology. They are currently supporting three universities in Davao City -- University of Mindanao, University of the Philippines, and the University of Southeastern Philippines. So those are the three publicly funded technology business incubators. For private-publicly funded, there’s AdDU. We’re actually supported by the Commission on Higher Education. We also have the University of the Immaculate Conception.

For the government, there is a number of support since we have the Innovative Start-Up Law so there’s support coming from the Department of Trade and Industry. They have the Youth Entrepreneurship Program. The Department of Science and Technology is more supportive of research-based solutions. If you need a significant amount of research to validate your idea, they can do that. We also have the Department of Information and Communications Technology, supporting ICT-based technology. Lastly, our city government of Davao actually just passed earlier this year the Invention and Innovations Ordinance. There would be funding support coming. We’re just waiting for the IRR.

On Hayahay App

How exactly did you come up with this concept and the app’s name?

Abi: Hayahay app is a one-stop-shop where users can easily book high-quality services on demand. You get to browse through different service providers. Currently, we’re focusing on parcel delivery services by partnering with local businesses such as Rider Dash Delivery and Amigo movers delivery.

Hayahay’s goal is to provide convenience through digitalized platform that connects them to the best service providers. Our vision is to make every Filipino “hayahay” -- to make every Filipino feel comfortable while they book and wait for their chosen services.

What have been the challenges in establishing your own start-up company and how did you overcome them?

Adrian: Being consistent and persistent in the start-up journey, especially here in the Philippines, it’s very challenging. Others might say start-ups are really exciting and cool. But in reality, building and pursuing a start-up business will challenge you emotionally and physically. You have to juggle multiple tasks and wear many hats -- meaning performing different roles even those that you may not be comfortable with or you find boring such as government requirements and processes. Despite all of these, we are blessed to have a time that supports everyone in terms of highs and lows.

Donevir: We were also challenged by the knowledge and experience when we started building this company. Building a start-up is already hard in itself and that’s just the beginning. After starting a company, we also need to maintain and make sure that it grows. Most of us in the team graduated from the Computer Science course. We are not really knowledgeable when it comes to other roles like finance, legal, or marketing. We took the challenge of learning everything and we’re fortunate enough to be part of Upgrade Cohorts 1. Because of them, we have access to various training sessions and webinars about start-up and businesses. That played a crucial role in feeding us with the right knowledge and providing us with the right mentors for us to be able to run our company.

Right now, Hayahay App is back on the developmental stage for improvements and upgrades gathered from the feedback of their partners. They target to be back by the end of 2021.

You can view the full video here:


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