With almost 100 startups funded in the last three years, the Philippine startup community — branded as #startupPH — has become a force to reckon with, according to local investment firm Kickstart Ventures.
Led by its president Minette Navarrete, Kickstart reported that although startups existed in the Philippines for over a decade, the local startup scene has received a significant boost from the first quarter of 2012 onward. This “boost” includes funding or grants by institutional investors to a number of these startups, and an equal number being supported by the various angel investor, who are supporting entrepreneurs in a private capacity.
“A number of these funded startups have received follow-on funding, and reputable investors from overseas; who have started to participate in these early funding rounds,” Navarrete said, noting about 40 per cent of Kickstart portfolio companies have gotten third-party follow-on funding.
Created by telecom giant Globe Telecom as incubator-investment firm, Kickstart reported that over 60 startups have received some funding mainly from local funds. The support also came with the co-investment of overseas funds like IMJ Investment Partners, Wavemaker Labs, Omidyar Network, Y-Combinator, and 500 Startups.
She added that the bootstrapped startups are also making progress, proving that external funding is a boost, but not a necessity for success.
“We are thrilled to see the progress each one achieves,” Navarrete said. “A win for any startup here is a win for the entire community.”
Kickstart cited some tech startups in its portfolio that already achieved innovation milestones, such as recruitment platform Kalibrr, app-maker and first listed local startup Xurpas, online platform for the underbanked Lenddo, and mobile health startup mClinica.
Besides Kickstart’s 19 startup portfolio, there are other local incubators and accelerators that acquired a varied portfolio of startups. These include, Smart Communication Inc’s IdeaSpace that has 22 startups; Future Now Ventures that has 13 startups; and Spring.ph, which has a 25 statup portfolio.
Among the fresh milestones achieved by local startups were the People’s Choice Award at the World Startup Competition in Korea won by SAlt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting), the Seedstars World Best Startup 2014 by Salarium for their payroll SaaS solution, and the Hack Osaka Award 2015 grand prize by mClinica.
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Kickstart explained the increase of startups could be attributed to the country’s young, techie population wherein more than half of the over 100 million Filipinos are below 30 years old.
“The Philippines currently boasts of 101 per cent mobile penetration and 52 per cent broadband penetration rate, as well as extremely high social media penetration of 97 per cent for Facebook and 81 per cent for Twitter,” Kickstart said.
Navarette said although there’s a lot of hype, the Philippines need infrastructure that supports startup enterprises, more mature talents to develop, patient mentors, various investors, and most especially results and traction, and ROI.
“As a country, we have to rise and find solutions that perhaps do not exist today. The traditional business models that brought us to where we are today are not going to work in the future. The future has to be invented,” Navarrete added.