Help for Philippine IT Start-ups

 

This is another article about the two enterprise accelerators/ incubators backed by PLDT and Globe to fund Philippine IT start-up which hopefully will give our own version of Apple and Steve Jobs. I would think this is possible given the talent available in the country which is only handicapped by the lack of financial backing and mentoring.
In search of a Pinoy ‘Steve Jobs’ 
BIZLINK By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) Updated September 14, 2012

 “Why can’t the next Instagram or Google be Filipino?,” asked Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., the country’s largest telecommunications company to date, at a recent gathering of Internet and mobile marketing associates.

The statement, in essence, sums up the founding principle behind IdeaSpace, a non-profit foundation formed from funding by companies belonging to the MVP conglomerate.

Aside from PLDT, seed capital was also contributed by First Pacific, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), the MPIC hospital group, Meralco, Smart Communications, Inc (Smart), Digitel, Sun Cellular, SPI Global, ePLDT, Indofood, Philex Mining, Maynilad, MediaQuest, and TV5.

Each company put up a sum of money that is now part of the P500-million fund, enough for IdeaSpace to operate in the next five years. The pooled fund is regarded as the largest single private sector commitment for technology entrepreneurship in the country.

The idea behind IdeaSpace is not exactly new. In this technology boom age, a number of established global technology firms have ventured in angel investing, or providing capital in exchange for shares, to promising start-up business ideas. 

Not just for mobile phones

While these new ventures are predominantly in the realm of apps development, the range of applications that IdeaSpace is looking for is not necessarily confined to just mobile phone applications.

During its launch last March, for example, the avowed focus was on early start-ups that are relevant in the industries of water and power utilities, toll roads and transportation, healthcare, mining, telecommunications, media and food, in short, where the MVP group of companies has an interest in.

The foundation has said that it is also open to ideas that provide solutions in other industries, but these must have significant global potential or developmental impact.

IdeaSpace is open to funding and supporting the 10 best tech-based ideas resulting from an ongoing contest that started the first day of September, and ending by Jan. 7 next year. Winners will receive something like P2 million for the first phase and up to P5-million additional capital during or after six months into the program.

Aside from the initial seed money of P500,000 per startup, winners will receive mentorship from executives from the group companies, access to resources including legal assistance and advice, operational control, free office spaces, housing provisions for those from outside Metro Manila and a clear partner route to markets served by any company in the group – whose range of business translate to millions of households, subscribers, motorists and others. 

Equity sharing

In exchange for the support, IdeaSpace will have a 20-percent equity stake for each company incubated, with future revenues to be funneled back into the pooled funds to help fund other startups.

Winners will be announced by April 2013 and they will undergo incubation for six months.

Aside from funding, each incubated company will go through a structured program hosted by the group’s Leadership Academy to teach them the fundamentals on how to run a successful and scalable business.

Since its launch, IdeaSpace has also been supporting the various activities of start-up community. Moreover, the foundation has been conducting boot camps to help promote and expand the startup culture in the country.

Through partnerships with schools and local communities, IdeaSpace has organized boot camps in several universities all over the country. These one day activities include tech talks and sharing of startup success stories, mentoring and an ‘ideation’ session which culminates in a pitching competition.

Complete mechanics and more information are available at ideaspace.ph. You can also follow them at Twitter @IdeaSpacePh or Facebook/IdeaSpacePh. 

Kickstarting ventures

Not to be left behind, industry challenger Globe Telecom had set aside a venture fund of P100 million through Kickstart Ventures Inc. to the same cause of helping tech start-ups.

Start-up information and communications technology companies that need a solid minority investor may look to Kickstart as their white knight.

Kickstart will invest at least P500,000 or as much as P15 million to P20 million in seed money for the start-ups in exchange for a minority stake of up to 20 percent. Like IdeaSpace, start-ups under the Kickstart wing may avail of training and business mentoring.

Although Kickstart was formally formed only early this year, Globe had been encouraging incubation of tech businesses even in 2011 through its Startup Weekends program aimed at generating breakthrough ideas from tech communities in key cities of the country.

Startup Weekends is a concept which started in the US, but is now a global movement, taking digital start-up businesses from ideas to investment readiness through intensive mentoring from industry experts and access to markets and investors across Asia.

Participants get acquainted with one another starting Friday night. They pitch startup concepts they are passionate about, and form teams around the most popular ideas. They refine their ideas and business plans and start building product prototypes with the help of the onsite mentors, and then present what they have accomplished in a four-minute pitch and demo by Sunday evening. Globe has already harvested some successes with this Startup Weekends, and should come in handy as Kickstart revs up. 

Boost for Filipino technopreneurs

If one is looking for a bit of good news, these initiatives of MVP companies and Ayala’s Globe are welcome developments. And these are not media feeds but actual concrete activities that are involving the minds and efforts of Filipino technopreneurs.

With both IdeaSpace and Kickstart extending assistance, not only financial but also managerial expertise, it may not be far fetched that soon a Filipino “Steve Jobs” will be discovered and a formidable Silicon Valley in Asia will arise right here in the Philippines. Dreams? But some dreams do come true! 

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We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at http://www.facebook.com and follow us at http://www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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