This year seems to be the start of a blossoming in the Philippines’ startup ecosystem. Global investors are slowly seeing the potential of domestic startups, resulting in four Philippine startups getting funded this year. But Tech in Asia wanted to look further into this market and what some of the tech startup influencers have to say.
Here are some of the prominent tech precursors globally who visited the Philippines to share expertise and scope out the scene.
Australian venture builder Pollenizer came to the Philippines this June to partner with Philippine incubator Kickstart Ventures and hunt down the country’s next gutsy startup. Pollenizer CEO and founder Phil Morle had already visited the Philippines several times, and he noted that the Philippine market has a unique standard of entrepreneurship that is crucial in building a successful startup.
That’s why Morle, together with Kickstart president Minette Navarette, believe that a billion-dollar startup can come in the Philippines. That’s a huge declaration, but when said by two tech experts, it sounds like an affirmation that the Philippine startup scene has a great potential.
AngelHack came to Manila this year to conduct its first competition in the country. As a result, one of the startup teams, PageSnapp, received a travel grant to Silicon Valley, where it would be introduced to several prominent incubators and investors.
The then-AngelHack CEO Greg Gopman, who also flew to Manila, spoke of its plans to open an office in the Philippines, describing it as “emerging as one of the top regions in terms of developer skills.”
This could really help boost the startup ecosystem in the Philippines. But as Gopman became embroiled in a controversy and stepped down as CEO, the status of the office remains up in the air. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and bet that the talented team at AngelHack still has some plans in store.
Bowei Gai and Philippine Startup Report co-authors
In Septemeber, some of the tech influencers in the Philippines organized Geeks on a Beach, an event similar to Silicon Valley’s Geeks on a Plane. The event was attended by many international tech startup influencers such as Innovation Endeavors founding partner Ron Hose, Plug & Play Tech Center co-founder Jojo Flores and World Startup Report founder Bowei Gai.
This was the same venue Gai published his crowdsourced Philippine startup report.
The report speaks of what the Philippines lacks in the way of support for startups: lack of funding, talent scarcity and poor infrastructure. But it also cleary states the opportunities found here, which I’d say Gai, Hose, and other co-authors have done a good job recognizing. The report spoke of how the economy in the country is growing and that e-commerce is becoming a great space from which new businesses to emerge. The report highlights that “opportunities [are] abound — the local market is big and competition is still very low.”
Of course, we wanted to know his insights about the Philippine market and the startup scene. So in a conversation with him, he notes that there’s low smartphone penetration that hampers the e-commerce and m-commerce opportunities in the country. However, the proliferation of cheap smartphones and more usage of mobile apps such as chat apps can give it a boost. He also echoes Pollenizer’s Morle’s thoughts about the entrepreneurial nature of the Filipinos.
Bales was vocal in stating that he wants to return to the country to conduct another series of workshops. And coincidentally, just the past weekend, Manila has been ‘unlocked’ in LSM after 200 locals signed up to the workshop. This means that the folks at Lean Startup Machine will soon visit Manila to give a more in-depth workshop.
(Editing by Josh Horwitz)