Freelancing platform Raket.ph gains traction, seeks investment boost

Visual from the website

Raket.ph, a freelancing platform founded last year in the Philippines, continues to gain significant business traction even as it prepares for monetary boost from investors.

The company’s brand name “Raket” is a slang word for “sideline” in the Philippines. Its user base has grown over 10,000 within one year of operations.

The website recently introduced the healthcare benefits to raketeers, the first of its kind in the Philippines. It is envisioned to bring “revolutionary change” in the local freelancing industry.

The Filipino-founded startup won the Launchpad pitching event by tech incubator and accelerator Spring.ph, last year. It was also chosen to participate in the upcoming tech conference in Las Vegas dubbed “Collision” on May 5 and 6.

DEALSTREETASIA did an exclusive interaction with Raket.ph co-founder and CEO Lyle Jover, who shared the startup’s beginnings, plans, service features, as well as his personal views on the domestic startup scene.

Interview excerpts:

What does your company do and how did the idea come to life?

Raket.ph is an end-to-end freelancing platform that focuses on the local community of Raketeers and clients. It follows an on-demand model, so the next time around you would need “a guy” for the job, there’s a place to look for them. For example photographers, developers, event organisers, tutors, among others.

Philippines is a country full of very talented people, who usually forgo what their passions are. We want to bridge this gap by giving them a second chance to build a name for themselves and do what they always loved doing. On the client perspective, here in our country, there is limited access for us Filipinos to tap into freelancers from our own local community.

Could you share to us your company’s journey?

We started with practically nothing but just this idea in early 2014. I tapped my old partner from my failed startup and shared this idea with him together with my other friends. We built everything together, bootstrapped and worked very hard to deliver our vision. We thought it was done after launching but so many ideas came into play especially when we saw that people are actually using our platform already. Sleepless nights, 15-day straight developments, without even going out, and a lot of coffee and beer, whenever we needed ideas.

It was quite a roller coaster ride. We encountered a lot of challenges throughout the months since we launched last May 2014. We love seeing how our platform has helped people get the job done and the success our Raketeers are making today. This drives us to keep pushing forward with awesome innovations on our site.

How many investors does your company have and how do you plan to use the invested funds?

We only have a few. We choose investors on what they can contribute to the site more than the monetary injection. We love new perspectives as we believe this is how you create innovation. We use a big chunk of our funds for R&D as we take this journey to expand, eventually internationally.

What are the latest updates in Raket.ph in terms of deals, investments, and services?

We have some interesting things coming in for Raket.ph including, escrow payments — providing a secure way for real-time payments for project-related transactions— and healthcare for Raketeers. We are the first to offer this in the country.

Investment-wise, we have a couple of things that are cooking in. We can disclose it when the deal is done.

This coming May, Raket.ph will participate in the Collision tech conference in Las Vegas, and it’s one of the things that we are proud of. It’s one of the largest start up events in the world and we’re hoping we would meet more investors and potential partners.

How much do you spend on research and development?

Around 60 per cent of our budget. We really feel lucky because we never run out of ideas. There’s always something to do, something to improve on.

What are your plans for business expansion?

Right now, we have 10,000 users. We plan to take things one at a time, from market to market. Dominate each one and expand on another.

What do you think is your company’s edge over its competitors?

One is our brand and most importantly our team. Then our drive to passionately deliver quality innovations, for the people, who we think we can help, over time.

What do you expect of the startup space in the Philippines?

The Philippines is really exciting. A lot of good ideas. There are still a lot of people who have not come out yet. The startup space here in the country is still in its infancy. I’m not even sure if many people know about it. Like us, we did not know about it up until a few months after we launched.

We believe the startup industry here will grow exponentially in the next three to five years considering the efforts of many organizations here.

Is it really important for entrepreneurs to have angel investors and venture capitalists?

We think it is important but we suggest that it’s better to get investors when you have good traction. In this way, it’s easier for you to prove your worth, your equity would have a higher value compared if you have taken investors early on during the development or concept stage.

This is the advantage in the tech world. You just need to have the right people to work with. Money from investors is secondary for us. As much as possible, we bootstrap everything. People could always find ways, that’s for sure.

What’s the effective pitching strategy for you?

People do not see your vision. Make them, and the rest will follow.

What type of mindset do you think every startup founder should have?

Never second guess whatever you are doing. Not everyone is willing to take this challenge, so just keep moving forward.

Related stories:

Philippines gives more time to startups: Arup Maity

Nearly 100 startups funded, PH community gains momentum

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.