PLDT group leads sup­port for PH startup ecosys­tem at 'Geeks on a Beach'

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - BUSINESS -

Firms un­der PLDT, the coun­try's lead­ing telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and dig­i­tal ser­vices provider, threw their full sup­port be­hind the fast-emerg­ing startup ecosys­tem and the need for in­no­va­tion to ad­vance the Philip­pines' dig­i­tal econ­omy dur­ing the 'Geeks on a Beach' (GOAB) tech­nol­ogy and startup con­fer­ence held re­cently Boracay Is­land, Ak­lan.

Now on its third year, the GOAB con­fer­ence or­ga­nized by Cebu-based TechTalks.ph pooled some 500 par­tic­i­pants from around the Philip­pines and abroad to hear more than 35 lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional speak­ers, in­clud­ing in­vestors and guests from Sil­i­con Val­ley, share about how to fur­ther boost the startup ecosys­tem of the coun­try.

The con­fer­ence was co-pre­sented by IdeaS­pace Foun­da­tion, Smart Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Smart Bro, Smart Devel­oper Net­work (DevNet), PLDT SME Na­tion, and PLDT In­no­lab.

Ex­e­cu­tion is crit­i­cal

Smart e-Money, Inc. (SMI) Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Paolo Az­zola, the key­note speaker for the con­fer­ence, un­der­scored the need for sound and ef­fi­cient ex­e­cu­tion of startup ideas in or­der to en­sure growth, es­pe­cially since the lo­cal startup ecosys­tem has al­ready started tak­ing off.

"While ideas are use­ful, ex­e­cu­tion is crit­i­cal, and ef­fi­ciency comes with sound ex­e­cu­tion. Too of­ten we see star­tups be­ing built with use­less bells and whis­tles, with founders de­ploy­ing funds on use­less things," Az­zola said, adding that ex­e­cu­tion, and not "sushi and comfy chairs" as one of his men­tors put it, is the most im­por­tant com­po­nent of a startup.

Az­zola like­wise high­lighted the need to col­lab­o­rate with other star­tups, even among com­peti­tors, so that they may be able to build the ecosys­tem to­gether. "No mat­ter how smart and driven you are, if you go alone, you will fail alone," he added.

'Piv­otal' year

IdeaS­pace Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Earl Martin Va­len­cia, mean­while, pointed out how 2015 is a piv­otal year for the lo­cal startup ecosys­tem as more groups from here and around the world pour sup­port for star­tups in the coun­try, from idea stage up to ex­pan­sion stage.

IdeaS­pace, a tech in­cu­ba­tor and ac­cel­er­a­tor for early-stage star­tups sup­ported by com­pa­nies un­der the First Pa­cific Group in­clud­ing PLDT and Smart, has for one re­ceived a record-break­ing 1,028 ideas for its na­tional startup com­pe­ti­tion this year. "Many are now re­al­iz­ing that the Philip­pines is a good mar­ket to start a busi­ness. The fact that many of these ideas came from var­i­ous re­gions around the coun­try is a tes­ta­ment that the ecosys­tem is grow­ing way be­yond ma­jor ur­ban cities in the Philip­pines," Va­len­cia ex­plained.

Even the gov­ern­ment and the academe are step­ping up their game, Va­len­cia added. Just re­cently, the Depart­ment of Science and Tech­nol­ogy (DOST) and the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI) col­lab­o­rated with IdeaS­pace to help build the coun­try's first na­tional in­no­va­tion hub, which will help nur­ture and build on the suc­cesses of star­tups around the coun­try.

Dur­ing the GOAB con­fer­ence, the DOST-In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy Of­fice (ICTO) also launched the Philip­pine Roadmap for Dig­i­tal Star­tups in col­lab­o­ra­tion with ecosys­tem part­ners in gov­ern­ment, the academe, and the pri­vate sec­tor.

"As a startup founder, you are in a unique time in the Philip­pines as in­vestors, cor­po­ra­tions, the academe and gov­ern­ment are push­ing for your growth. The world is look­ing at us, and we hope to hear more suc­cess sto­ries dur­ing the next GOAB con­fer­ence," Va­len­cia added.

Nur­tur­ing in­no­va­tion

Dur­ing the con­fer­ence, par­tic­i­pants were also able to take part in var­i­ous break-out ses­sions that tack­led var­i­ous as­pects of found­ing, run­ning, and mak­ing star­tups grow in the coun­try.

This in­cluded a quick ses­sion by Smart DevNet Devel­oper Evan­ge­list Paul Pajo on how to cre­ate mo­bile web ap­pli­ca­tions that can be ac­cessed from just about any phone, in­clud­ing fea­ture phones that are not as so­phis­ti­cated as most smart­phones to­day.

Pajo said de­vel­op­ing these types of ap­pli­ca­tions could al­low ma­jor­ity of mo­bile users in the coun­try, which are still us­ing fea­ture phones, ac­cess sites and ap­pli­ca­tions that are rel­e­vant to their needs. Sites de­vel­oped through this ap­proach could also be in­cluded in the In­ter­net.org ini­tia­tive of Face­book, which is cur­rently be­ing pushed by Smart's value brand Talk 'N Text.

Mean­while, startup founders were also able to hear from PLDT In­no­lab's Joey Lim­jap how the in­no­va­tion cen­ter of PLDT could help them ac­cel­er­ate the growth of their star­tups. With pres­ence in ma­jor ur­ban cen­ters around the coun­try, PLDT In­no­lab pro­vides the right space and in­fra­struc­ture for star­tups so that they may de­velop the coun­try's next-gen­er­a­tion ICT so­lu­tions.

The third GOAB con­fer­ence also hosted an in­ter­na­tional pitch­ing com­pe­ti­tion sup­ported by Smart Bro, which saw five founders from the Philip­pines and around the world pitch their star­tups to in­vestors and speak­ers present dur­ing the event. Sin­ga­pore's Nearcir­cles, a lo­ca­tion-based ser­vice that al­lows users to con­nect with their neigh­bors, even­tu­ally won the grand prize, which in­cluded $1,000 in cash plus gad­gets from Smart Bro.

Michele Cur­ran, FVP and Head of Data Ser­vices at Smart, said: "Smart Bro is proud to sup­port these star­tups that cre­ate such in­no­va­tive break­throughs and dig­i­tal ser­vices that we all get to en­joy to­day. We share their vi­sion of help­ing im­prove the Philip­pines' dig­i­tal ecosys­tem through game-chang­ing tech­nolo­gies that im­prove the lives of many peo­ple."

In­vestors, startup founders, cor­po­ra­tions, and ev­ery­day 'geeks' con­verged in Boracay for the 3rd an­nual Geeks on a Beach con­fer­ence sup­ported by the PLDT Group

The DOST-ICTO, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with key part­ners such as IdeaS­pace, un­veiled the PH roadmap for dig­i­tal star­tups dur­ing the con­fer­ence

Par­tic­i­pants dur­ing the

In­ter­na­tional Pitch­ing Com­pe­ti­tion backed by Smart Bro were able to pitch their star­tups to var­i­ous in­vestors and ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists present

dur­ing the con­fer­ence

IdeaS­pace Pres­i­dent Earl Martin Va­len­cia shared how this is a 'piv­otal year' for PH star­tups, with sup­port com­ing from each sec­tor of the coun­try

Khailee Ng of 500 Star­tups, one of the most ac­tive ven­ture cap­i­tal funds in the re­gion, shared tips on how to get that much-needed in­vest­ment for star­tups

PayMaya COO Paolo Az­zola, the con­fer­ence's key­note speaker, em­pha­sized how ex­e­cu­tion is crit­i­cal in run­ning a startup

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