PH social enterprise tech startup MagisSolutions to expand in Asia

MagisSolutions co-founders Marlon Olmillo, JC Soriano, and Camille Cruz

MagisSolutions, a social enterprise tech startup in the Philippines is now looking to expand in the region. It provides affordable IT systems to non-government organizations (NGOs), foundations, charities, and other social enterprises,

Founded three years ago by three 20-year-old Filipinos, MagisSolutions is focused on web and software development intended for social causes and advocacies. It is part of the startup portfolio of the incubator and accelerator Spring.ph of the Philippine Software Industry Association or PSIA.

In an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA, 23-year-old MagisSolutions co-founder JC Soriano revealed the startup’s expansion plans and shared a detailed account of the company’s journey, services developed, as well as his personal pitching strategy and conviction as a startup founder.

Soriano is an IT professional and works for a large e-governance project, that seeks to improve the basic services for citizens of a local government unit.

Other co-founders are Marion Olmillo, 24, and Camille Cruz, 23. Olmillo teaches computer programming to high school students while Cruz does marketing creative work for various multi-national brands.

According to the three co-founders, they dedicate a large chunk of their time to MagisSolutions, which offers services on web design, custom software, mobile apps, and also marketing and branding.

Excerpts from the interaction:

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

MagisSolutions, is a social enterprise tech startup that provides affordable IT systems to NGOs, foundations, charities, and other social enterprises.

The idea came to life when I started to wonder how I could make a difference in society, especially for the poor, the disabled, or the marginalized, using my skills in IT.

I noticed that I had a lot of friends in NGOs and Foundations approaching me that constantly needed some IT systems to help them become more effective in serving their sector, so I decided if I were going to be approached consistently I should make this a company.

How was your startup’s journey?

The startup was founded with two of my friends, three years ago, with a simple vision of the world wherein social enterprises were effective in helping the poor, disabled, and marginalized, as private corporations were effective in selling or managing their supply chain.

During the first and second year, we were experimented with various business models, cost structures, and revenue streams. We started off engaging volunteer programmers and designers to provide services to for-a-cause organizations. For a few months the social enterprise proved to be on its way to success, providing services to for-a-cause organizations for free.

The business model broke down as it proved incredibly difficult to keep programmers and designers motivated. That’s when we decided to become a legitimate company with hired programmers and designers, getting revenues for products and services. In third year, we have managed to radically optimize our cost structure and create various innovative financing options for NGOs and Foundations so that, any for-a-cause organization, rich or poor, can have an IT system that will enable them to become a better and more effective organization.

What is your company’s status right now?

Now in its third year, the company is still in its growth stage, as revenue continues to double year-on-year. Our cost structure has been radically optimized and our processes are crisp and fast compared to when we first started. We are currently in the process of expanding and hiring a few more employees before the year ends.

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

Our company received investment from two angel investors who are CEOs of large social enterprises. We’re using the investment to develop a few for-a-cause online platforms that will add a few new revenue streams to our company.

How much do you spend on research and development?

We spend about 30 per cent of our time on R&D, and efforts are often creating APIs and libraries that quicken our development time and keep costs low, as well as continuous learning from various online courses or startup books.

What are your future plans for business expansion?

We plan to slowly pivot from a service-oriented company to a product-oriented company. By end of the year, we plan to allocate less resources to creating client-based systems to creating SaaS (software-as-a-service) products that can be used by a larger client base.

How do you plan to attract additional investments?

Our revenue streams are currently large enough to sustain our business without additional investment. However, by next year we plan to expand to at least one more ASEAN country, so we plan to attract additional investments in the form of networks and connections that would help us establish business in a new development market. Our plan is to continue to create relationships with large influencers in the development sector, as these people would often have tremendous networks with people from other countries.

What do you expect of the startup space in the Philippines this year
and beyond?

I expect continuous rapid growth in the Philippine startup scene. I feel we are just on the brink of an outbreak of tech startups and social enterprises.

What’s the effective pitching strategy for you?

Believe in the a clear vision of the future that your startup will enable. Pitchers should have a very clear ‘why’ in their mind, and every other detail should be contingent to that ‘why’.

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

It would really help if startup founders were visionaries — the type of people that are able to convince other people about a clear vision of the future. If employees believe in the ‘vision’ and the ‘why’, they are more likely to create incredible products that have a positive effect to society. Being a startup founder/member is being a change-maker, an enemy of the status quo, transporters of humanity towards a better future.

Related stories:

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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.