Startups, more so in their infancy, need all the help they can get, not just capital infusion, but also mentors and other experts, among others, to guide digital entrepreneurs. In relation with this, four partners from the public and private sectors bonded again to push Philippine startups forward.
A 2017 study called the Philippine Startup Survey (PSS) showed there are over 300 startups in the country, many of them still needing assistance. The outcomes of the survey included local startups’ struggle to secure capital funding; government’s regulatory requirements are obstacles; and the country’s economic or business situations their third biggest challenge.
Available market, availability of talent, and low barriers to entry were the three most important factors that CEOs and founders of the 106 startups identified that can help them. QBO Innovation Hub, a public-private sector initiative, and PwC Philippines conducted the PSS, with the results giving both the government and the private sector a bigger idea on the country’s startup ecosystem.
No doubt about it, as the survey showed, startups everywhere on Earth need help, not the least those in the Philippines. And one form of help has come through the QBO (‘ku-bo’) Innovation Hub, which the IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc., J.P. Morgan, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) established in 2016.
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DOST’s Innovation Council, the Philippine Council on Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) funded the QBO Innovation Hub. QBO, patterned after the Filipinos’ “nipa hut” or “kubo,” links innovators, explorers, investors, academic institutions, startup mentors, funders, and enablers. Also in the mix is a wide array of partners and stakeholders coming from either public or private sectors to generate a constructive dialogue.
QBO, simply said, is one of DTI’s various support mechanisms to the startup community, with focus on startups exhibiting viable business propositions. More help is on the way.
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On Thursday (March 1), the four partners officially launched in Makati City a digital platform called the QBO App crafted as an online space for the country’s startup ecosystem. A part of QBO’s on-ground efforts, the app is now available for download on devices with iOS and Android operating systems.
QBO seeks to create a Philippine startup ecosystem that can compete in the world stage. It owes its existence in part to “the vision of Filipino startups changing the world.” Katrina Chan, director, QBO Innovation Hub, cited the importance of providing a platform that startups and entrepreneurs can use to connect easily to the hub. “In this fast-paced, always-on world, we saw the need for startups to get easy access to our services and resources. This is why we created the app,” she emphasized.
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At the same time, startups will be able to connect with top-notch mentors and consultants, the very people who can help them grow their business. The QBO App serves as “a digital space where startups and entrepreneurs can come together to connect with other players in the startup ecosystem and contribute their own knowledge with the community,” the emailed statement said.
They can have access to the top-notch mentors as QBO has a roster that includes successful startup founders, experience venture capitalists, and veteran company leaders, and many others. QBO’s list of mentors are being tapped to provide mentorship to startups that are accepted in the INQBATION program created with J.P. Morgan.
From PCIEERD, the seven mentors and their descriptions are:
- Chito Bustamante, CEO, Chikka Asia, Inc. The Silicon Valley engineer has enabled Chikka to grow and develop into what it is today. During his term, Chikka was awarded triple ISO certifications and a rare CMMI maturity level 5, which is the highest in the industry. Aside from being a CEO, Bustamante is actively taking on mentorship roles to help young startup founders succeed.
2. Ambar Machfoedy, Managing Partner, Rekanext Venture Capital Partners In his current role, Machfoedy manages a Singapore-based Venture Capital firm that is focused on a portfolio of technology ventures that target Southeast Asian markets. Machfoedy is also well versed in analyzing and assessing deals, conducting due diligence, and executing exit strategies via POs/M&As, all of which are important for any startup founder.
3. Joey Vilar, Head of Marketing Services & OIC of Market Education, Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). Running a successful startup requires a good understanding of financial matters. Recruiting a mentor who has a strong background in finance spells the difference between a successful startup and a floundering one. Vilar, who has been at the helm of the PSE’s marketing services and market education for 10 years, is the perfect match for any startup that wants access to financial knowledge.
4. Jojy Azurin, Founder and CEO of Horsepower.ph.Azurin has co-founded a number of startups as well as IT companies. He has pioneered tech companies in the fields of BPO, IT outsourcing, online content publishing, and eCommerce. He is also co-director at Manila Chapter of Founder Institute, the world’s largest startup incubator. A seasoned leader and entrepreneur like him can definitely help any startup founder navigate the choppy startup waters.
5. Francis Simisim, CEO of Social Light, Inc. Simisim’s experience as an entrepreneur through various startups such as WhenInManila, Blogapalooza, and Social Light, Inc. is valuable to any fledgling startup. His current position as partner at a Philippine-based VC firm, Original Pitch Venture Capital, can give startup founders invaluable insight when it comes to pitching to potential investors and coming up with out-of-the-box creative solutions.
6. Noel Lorenzana, a Venture Capitalist with years of experience in key leadership positions Insight from someone who has successful experience in various posts as CEO, COO, President, and Managing Director and served in various roles across functions in General Management, Marketing, Sales, Operations, and Innovation Management is gold for anyone who is just starting out. Lorenzana has weathered many challenges as an executive, making him the perfect mentor for newbie founders.
7. Joseph Lacson, Chief Investment Officer at Metro Pacific Investments Corporation Lacson has accrued various leadership experiences spanning a wide range of departments in his 20 years of professional experience. Currently, he is the CIO of Metro Pacific Investments. He has also been at the helm of many sales and marketing departments, as well as strategy and business development. Insights from someone who has experience in moving and growing various companies can prove helpful to anyone just starting out.