Malaysian accelerator: Filipino startups less commercial

HOW do neighboring startups see their Filipino counterparts?

According to Malaysia-based mentors and accelerators, most Filipino startups develop “social-oriented” products, using technology to address real-world problems.

While this may be good, Filipinos tend to be “less commercial” about it, according to 1337 Ventures chief executive officer and founder Bikesh Lakhmichand. Without commercial viability, the startup’s sustainability becomes problematic and questionable, he said.

Lakhmichand instead advised them to “strike a balance.”

Most startups from Singapore and Malaysia develop products for commercial use. The startup mentor described Singaporean and Malaysian startups to most likely to prefer addressing first-world problems, which sometimes come out as “not so exciting.”

But in the Philippines and in developing countries, one sees great potential, he stressed.

Lakhmichand and his teammates Jason Chia and Athi Selvanayagam flew to Cebu for the first Alpha Startups Bootcamp, an initiative led by the Department of Science and Technology- Informations and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) together with TechTalks.ph and 1337 Ventures, which ran from Nov. 9 to 13.

Alpha Startups Bootcamps were previously done in some countries in Southeast Asia. This is the first held in the Philippines. It gathered some 200 startups in the region in the previous bootcamps. The five-day bootcamp featured workshops on customer development, product development and marketing that helped Philippine startups advance from idea generation, to developing viable products and business models.

DOST ICTO Executive Director Mon Ibrahim said this is also the first time that the government collaborated with a non-Philippine accelerator for a bootcamp.

The goal, according to Lakhmichand, is to gather the best startups in the ASEAN region and have them collaborate: the hustler, hipster, and the hacker. Philippines is the hustler, Indonesia is the hipster, and Singapore and Malaysia as the hackers, the 1337 Ventures officials jested.

“In Singapore you have very technical people there, also in Malaysia. In Indonesia, there is the creative sector. The Philippines really can do the selling part,” Lakhmichand said.
All it takes, according to the official, is to match these skill sets and build synergy among the best of each countries.

During the Alpha Startups Bootcamp held at the Bayfront Hotel, 28 teams participated from 12 different cities, but 11 were chosen to make it to the final round, and got the chance to showcase their outputs in a demo yesterday, attended by investors and champions of the local tech startup community.

The top three teams received $1,000 and $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credit, as well as mentorship with 1337 Ventures.

According to Ibrahim, the Philippines is aiming to have 50 startups earning P10 million in revenues in 2016, based on the Philippine Startup Roadmap.

1337 Ventures noted that the Philippines is on the right track, but continuous support to the startup community is vital to cultivate the startup ecosystem.

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