For any individual who wants to build a startup or invest in a specific country, it’s fundamental to have the best knowledge and the right people. And while that might be the goal of any startup or investor, access to such information is not easily at hand. This is why World Startup Report founder Bowei Gai launched the World Startup Wiki earlier this month.
Gai, who’s from the US, decided to stay in the Philippines at the start of the year. So the brand-new World Startup Wiki started by giving a comprehensive outlook of the Philippines’ startup ecosystem. This now gives any investor access to detailed and up-to-date information about the market, plus insights for startups looking for opportunities. With help from the wiki, let’s take a look at the current state of the Philippine startup landscape.
Investors in the Philippines
The now fully-fledged startup ecosystem in the Philippines is only two years old. Its growth is fueled by the presence of a number of investors – which include incubators, accelerators, angel investors, and venture capitalists – positioned in the country.
In the accelerator space, there’s Kickstart Ventures by Philippine telco Globe Telecom, and Ideaspace Foundation by rival telco Smart Communications. Apart from the two telcos, other institutions are also actively supporting the community like CebuInIT, UP Enterprise Center for Technopreneurship, and Ayala TBI Network. Even global accelerators 500 Startups and Y Combinator have invested in startups in the Philippines.
Of these accelerators, the World Startup Wiki notes that Cebu InIT has invested in the greatest number of startups (24), followed by Ideaspace (19), and Kickstart Ventures (17). However, the wiki notes that “seed funding is [still] very limited in the Philippines.” And while some accelerators provide cash funding, a few deals are still limited to non-cash support like office space and mentorship. So far, Kickstart Ventures and 500 Startups have recorded the biggest amount in typical investment size at US$100,000, where the latter has three investments in the country.
Meanwhile, of the angel investors and venture capitalists in the Philippines, Siemer Ventures is the most active, having funded six startups in the country. This is followed by the local Hatchd Digital with five investments. The typical investment sizes are US$250,000 and US$100,000, respectively.
As with Wikipedia, the World Startup Wiki is a crowdsourced effort. World Startup Report team lead Beryl Li also collated the information for the Philippine wiki. She reached out to each of these investors to collect information about their investments in the country. This led to identifying 47 investors that have at least one investment in the Philippines. The collated information shows that the Philippines still hasn’t seen a startup breaking the US$100 million mark in terms of funding. The wiki points out that the 60:40 ownership rule in the Philippines as one of the factors hindering the interest of foreign investments in the country.
Despite the difficulties in terms of investment, a number of Philippine startups stand out. Cloud-based software provider Morphlabs, which was founded in 2007, now has a ‘guesstimated’ valuation (by the World Startup Wiki team) of US$40 million. Acquisitions by telco companies have occurred. For example, local wi-fi hotspot operator Airborne Access was acquired by ePLDT, and instant messaging system Chikka was acquired by Smart.
Meetups and events are also on the rise. The ON3 Pitching Competition and Startup Weekend events were some of the first that arrived in the country, followed by local startup community meetups held by TechTalks, RoofCamp, and Startup Philippines. Most of the events are still centered on Metro Manila, which is a limitation to other startups from other regions across the Philippines. But there are several events in Cebu, Davao, and other such areas.
The founders of some of these startup companies help mentor early-stage startups in the country, notably Sulit’s RJ David, Morphlab’s WInston Damarillo, Airborne Access’ Dennis Mendiola, and Filipino-American Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dado Banatao
The Philippine government, through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), provides incubation through the UPD Enterprise Center for Technopreneurship, UP Ayala Technology Business Incubator and CeBuinIT. The Philippines Software Industry Association likewise has a mentorship program through Spring.ph.
Along from these programs, DOST’s deputy executive director of the ICT office Monchito Ibrahim is one of the key people who reaches out to the startup community to know their needs. There’s still limited funding given by these incubators, but it provides assistance and office spaces to the selected startups.Editing by Steven Millward