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Lean Startup Machine’s Scott Bales reveals opportunities and challenges for Philippine startups

Scott-Bales-MediumFollowing a visit to Tokyo earlier this year, the Lean Startup Machine continued its steady trek through Asia as mentor Scott Bales visited Manila for a one-day workshop last week.

The event was attended by around 40 entrepreneurs, product managers, and corporate executives who work in innovation and are interested in learning lean startup methodology. The Lean Startup Machine’s arrival in the Philippines was co-organized by Philippine telco Smart and project-based job website Freelancer. [Update: The event was likewise co-organized by CBS Social Enterprise Asia and Smart subsidiary Voyager Innovations]

How is the Philippine startup scene doing?

In a conversation with Scott (who’s also the founder of Moven) we talked about his impressions of the Philippine tech and startup ecosystems. He notes that one of the challenges is the low adoption of smartphones, something which hampers the startup ecosystem’s growth.

The proliferation of cheap smartphones in the market can help boost e-commerce and m-commerce. Right now, not many Filipinos have access to commerce-related apps. “If we have a way of more digital communications like chat apps, [we] can see a proliferation of businesses on top of that,” he says. But phone-makers and telcos need to need to find a cost-effective way to get more smartphones into the hands of Filipinos.

He also notes that homegrown brands such as Cherry Mobile and MyPhone are slowly helping Filipinos have access to smartphones. This is something IDC also noted this year.

Businesses must find a way to interact

Scott also believes in investing in “solving real people problems.” He says businesses that will thrive are those that tap into communities of people, possibly through technology. He adds that the younger generation – Gen Y – are “forming human relationships inside technology” very adeptly.

Having the desire to be around humans and interacting with them is the way to solve today’s problems, he adds.

But despite these challenges, Scott says Filipinos are entrepreneurial in nature – a good sign in building a startup ecosystem. The people’s soft skills and hardware engineering prowess are the strong characteristics that he finds unique in the country’s pool of talent.

Manila’s startup scene is heating up, Scott says, and so he plans to hold an entire series of workshops when he next visits the country.

(Photo: ScotteBales.com)

(Editing by Steven Millward)



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