Malaysia-based venture capital firm and accelerator 1337 Ventures has selected three new startups, for top honours, in the Philippines over the weekend during its Alpha Startups PH Batch 2 event in Makati City.
The winners are online (no credit card needed) bus reservation Bustayo, Web-based wedding management tools Betterhapp, and a POS (point of sale) platform Detivo. They were among the top 10 teams who did a startup pitch on the fifth and final demo day on Saturday who made it out of over 100 applicants for the Alpha PH batch 2.
The seven other teams during the demo day were SMS-based ferry-pooling service for rural island communities Sabay Tayo, shopping rebates via affiliate marketing Shopyvy, social network for referrals HandShack, online travel & leisure directory Seeker, workflow automation of any transactional forms Flow Solutions, low cost intelligent steam educational robot Liser, and VR Arcade for the Philippines Reality+.
1337 Ventures CEO and founder Bikesh Lakhmichand led the demo day with Monchito Ibrahim, the deputy executive director for eInnovation of the Department of ICT (DICT) in the Philippines, and other partners such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Active, and Spring.ph – as guests.
The five-day program tackled different stages in customer development, product development, and marketing. Development companies, corporations, entrepreneurs, students, local incubators, accelerators, and angel investors came to see the final demo day.
Bikesh said 1337 Ventures made the final call on investment and each of the top three winners will get $25,000 cash, mentoring, and also support from AWS.
After three months, he said 1337 Ventures should be able to gauge whether the startups would be ready to raise a seed rounds, and probably take them to a couple of roadshows and typical startup conferences.
In an interview with DEALSTREETASIA, Bikesh recalled that since the batch one held in Cebu last November, they didn’t see much software innovation, like Software-as-a-Service, cloud-based services, or apps in terms of software innovation, but rather traditional offline things that are now going online.
“I think this is a trend. We saw this also happening in Indonesia, Vietnam, the earliest stage startups, especially in Malaysia,” Bikesh said. “In this batch, we’re quite impressed with the level of sophistication of some of the ideas. They’re thinking about not just solutions that will work here in the Philippines or Southeast Asia, but all these can scale up globally right away. So we really like what’s happening in the ecosystem. All these little initiatives happening everywhere, coming together and creating really great entrepreneurs in the Philippines.”
Bikesh finds the startup and funding environment in the Philippines getting more mature with several initiative programs coming from different goups, the big sum of money being spent on network infrastrucure by the two predominant telco companies, and the recent creation of the Department of ICT which is expected to bring in more extra programs.
“[Philippines] is a great place to launch a company. English is not a barrier and it’s an affordable place to launch things. The only one issue I would say is infrastructure in terms of the internet, but because of infrastructure isssues that’s where you also get innovative ideas especially around fintech,” Bikesh said. “And because you have all these unbanked stuff, you see a lot of fintech ideas coming from here. I don’t think that’s a deterrent but in fact it’s something that fuels them to become even better and so it works significantly.”