PH start-ups need more investors
The start-up community would need a boost if the Philippines would want to produce the next Uber or Airbnb.
In 2012, the start-up community found a venue to realize its ideas via “Geeks on a Beach (GOAB),” now an annual technology conference that connects tech entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals from around the world.
The conference helped spark more interest in Philippine start-ups, and the community grew encouraging college students and young graduates to explore entrepreneurship in the tech industry.
But there’s not enough of them to create a full-fledged start-up ecosystem.
“What’s holding us back is that not many are doing it,” explained Tina Amper, founder of TechTalks.ph, a non-profit, independent community of business, technology, and start-up enthusiasts that is organizing GOAB. “It has to be numbers. The bigger the ecosystem, the more people are doing it, the more mentors,
the more traditional business people will [notice].”
Amper explained that start-up is a long-term investment and the rate is about 90 or 95 percent failure.
“But it’s high risk, high gain.” she said. “The holdback is we’re not very brave.”
It is not a guarantee that someone who is technically talented would automatically be successful.
“Because you also need to have business skills,” she said. “Where do you get that? If you have it on your own, lucky you. But not everybody does. Some of the ways you can address that gap is you connect with businesspeople.”
“A start-up is just like any business,” said Amper. “If you bootstrap, meaning you don’t get outside funding, you have to build a product that people will use and will pay for. That’s always an option and it’s hard. The fancy way is that you’ll just get outside funding.”
This is just one of the problems start-up meet-ups want to address. But GOAB is more than just a meet- up. The conference is like speed-dating for start-ups and investors matching businesses and funding.
Successful start-up founders also share their experiences with the hope of inspiring others.
This year, GOAB will have Yobie Benjamin, a low-profile serial entrepreneur, who has helped raise $40 million for a Silicon Valley company.
“We hope Yobie’s presence will inspire local start-ups and micro, small, and medium enterprises,” Amper said.
According to the press materials provided, Benjamin was a political prisoner during the dictatorship years of Ferdinand Marcos. He obtained a communications degree from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
He is the co-founder of Token Inc. and has been its chief technology officer emeritus since April. He also serves as the chief operating officer and chief software officer at Avegant Corp. In Kenya, Benjamin is involved in Wildlife Works, which sells carbon credits for protecting the rainforest and wildlife from poachers.
This year’s GOAB, which has the Department of Information and Technology as co-organizer, is scheduled on Aug. 24 and 25 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
Amper said the format was changed a bit in response to feedback from earlier conferences. Expect more founders activities, more Deep Dive or problems-solving or idea-creation sessions, and smaller breakout activities.
The shortage of serious investors hasn’t dampened Amper’s belief in her advocacy of helping and encouraging start-ups.
“The good news is that our economy is moving,” she said.
One just has to come up with a bright idea, create the product, and pitch it.
Visit www.geeksonabeach.com for registration and partnership information or email hello@GeeksonAbeach.com. /atm
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