Along with the government emphasising on the need for a conducive climate for entrepreneurial development, the nascent Philippine startup ecosystem got a leg-up with the launch of new enablers in 2016.
Department of ICT (DICT) director Mon Ibrahim said, startup activity as well as supporting promotional activities from the government had spread out beyond major cities like Metro Manila and Cebu.
“Although the Philippine ecosystem for digital startups is still at a developmental stage, there is definitely excitement and strong appetite to create a Philippine unicorn,” he said. “We have seen entries in our Philippine Startup Challenge increase by more than 100 per cent with most coming from regions (outside the metropolitan).”
Ibrahim noted the country has also seen an increase in the number of foreign delegates in the DICT-backed annual Geeks on the Beach (GOAB) international startup conference in 2016, highlighted by the participation of the Asia Pacific community of Techstars.
“We hope to sustain the high interest in the next three years as we try to catch up with the more developed ecosystems in neighbouring countries. Rest assured that the DICT will be in the forefront and spearheading high impact initiatives to put the Philippines in the global startup map,” Ibrahim said.
Among the notable startup enablers that emerged in the Philippines in 2016 are La French Tech Philippines, WeCube Inc, AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator, QBO Innovation Hub, and StartupPH. Silicon Valley-based seed fund and early stage startup accelerator 500 Startups expressed interest in launching a local micro-fund that could possibly happen this new year.
Below are their summary story launches which includes latest interviews with DEALSTREETASIA.
La French Tech Philippines
France’s new generation movement for innovative startups, La French Tech group, launched La French Tech Philippines last March to drive growth of technopreneurship in the country. La French Tech refers to all the people working for or with French startups, in France or abroad. This ecosystem is made up of entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, designers, developers, associations, bloggers, media, big companies, and government agencies,including working towards startup growth and international promotion.
La French Tech Philippines head coordinator Geoffroy Dehen said, France is investing massively on tech hubs in different countries and considers talents in the Philippines as outstanding among its Asian neighbors, highlighting communication skills in English, tech, and for having a highly entrepreneurial culture. La French Tech Philippines conducted a few events with DTI and French entrepreneurs in the Philippines since its launch and is looking to organise more in 2017.
France likewise included the Philippines for its French Tech Ticket Program which brings in talented entrepreneurs from around the world and helps them launch their projects in France. The welcome package is a combination of funding, incubation, ongoing support and advice.
WeCube Inc, a French startup accelerator, opened its working space in the financial district of Makati City last April. It calls itself a “collaborative ecosystem” for startups and SMEs interested in the Philippines. WeCube’s goal is to guide startups to achieve traction and access to funding by providing mentorship, coaching, networking and advisory on fund raising. Its global network ranges from business organisations to digital marketing agencies. Through its team of experienced entrepreneurs and professionals, WeCube has already created, developed, funded and sold companies.
AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator
This new startup incubator – led by the “father of semiconductor” Dado Banatao, founder of Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev) – was launched last June. The latter partnered with Asian Institute of Management (AIM) to scout and select startups from other pre-incubation facilities. The AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator is envisioned to become a hub for founders, angel investors, and venture capitalists from the ASEAN region.
QBO Innovation Hub
Last August, the trade department together with early stage technology incubator and accelerator IdeaSpace Foundation, DICT, and JP Morgan Chase Foundation unveiled the QBO Innovation Hub designed for Public-Private Partnership or PPP for the Philippine innovation ecosystem.
QBO head Butch Meily said, their vision is inclusive and multi-sectoral aimed to reach out to all members of the business community and academia.
“Our goal is to continue to develop the Philippine startup community, create success stories by assisting the most promising startups to exit through IPOs, equity infusions or sales, or by helping them conclude deals with local or foreign corporations and venture capital funds. We already hosted a series of QBO Open Houses on Tuesday evenings where we feature speakers with specific areas of expertise. We recently held a Mentor Matchup Day during which selected startups were able to meet with senior corporate executives and get their advice,” Meily said.
He added QBO has formed a working group with the Philippine Stock Exchange that has been studying ways to provide more liquidity to startups either through the secondary board of the Exchange or by starting a third board solely for startups, perhaps even as an online platform to trade the stocks of startups. “We’re hopeful that there will be new developments in 2017 that will support the idea of giving Philippine startups new ways to exit and go public,” Meily said.
StartupPH, 500 Startups
August also saw the launch of a new umbrella organisation for local startups called the StartupPH led by Plug and Play co-founder Jojo Flores. The community-led initiative is composed of organisations that nurture startups and offer a digital platform for people to connect with successful and promising startups. Flores made the disclosure during the annual Geeks on A Beach (GOAB) international conference for startups, technology, and design held in Bohol province where 500 Startups managing partner Khailee Ng also announced their idea of launching a micro-fund in the country similar to its venture capital vehicles in Thailand and Vietnam.