Monthly Archives: March 2014

Earning from a startup

I read this article awhile ago and found out what may be the potential salary I will have in a startup.  Still, I have the benefit of getting self satisfaction and other psychic rewards to doing this. Like the opportunity of fillin a community need, helping create jobs and contributing to the economic development of the country.

How Much Should A Startup Founder/CEO Pay Himself?

The following is a guest post by Chris Sheehan. Chris is a seed stage VC and angel investor atCommonAngels. You can follow him on Twitter at @c_sheehan and his blog Early Stage Adventures.   Back in 2008, Peter Thiel did an interview at TechCrunch50 in which he said one of the most important things he looks at before investing is how much the CEO is getting paid. The lower the CEO salary, the more likely it is to succeed. The CEO’s salary sets a cap for everyone else. If it is set at a high level, you end up burning a whole lot more money. It [a low salary] aligns interest with the equity holders. But [beyond that], it goes to whether the mission of the company is to build something new or just collect paychecks.   In practice we have found that if you only ask one question, ask that.   What’s the average salary for CEOs from funded startups? Thiel was hesitant to answer, but eventually said $100-125k. An interesting perspective. I’m not sure that it’s a leading predictor of success, but it certainly is a very important aspect at the seed stage because cash is so precious. The more a CEO pays herself, the less runway available to hit milestones. CEO founders sometimes ask me for guidance on what is “market” for salaries in a seed stage startup. Some observations:

  1. Stating the obvious, salary needs can vary widely. A founder with no mortgage, kids, etc will have different cash needs than a founder that has a minimum cash hurdle to clear (in the absence of being very wealthy)
  2. The amount raised in a seed round has an obvious impact. I know a couple of cases where if bigger seed rounds had been raised, the founders would probably have bumped up their salaries a little
  3. The percent equity owned by the CEO post the seed financing varies as a function of not just the size and terms of the seed round, but quite significantly, by the number of founders and how equity is divided up between them. While not a direct driver of cash salary, the amount of equity owned can have a psychological impact on salary expectations.
  4. Another influencing factor is how long the company has bootstrapped prior to the seed round and how much were the founders getting paid during this time. I know of a couple of companies I am invested in where the founders didn’t pay themselves anything for quite a while as they were building the foundations of their product
  5. If the company raises a Series A round, its typically to see seed stage salaries adjusted upward.
  6. As companies mature, its typical that a compensation committee is formed by non-management board members. In fact, the VCs will insist on this. The role of the compensation committee can vary, from making recommendations to the board on executive salaries, bonuses (and option grants) to having authority to set executive salaries

So what is the range of CEO salaries in the seed stage? Based on what I see in the market, I’d say the range for founder CEO salaries after a seed round is between $60k and $150k, with the average/median in the range of $90k – $110k. This is based on an average seed round of around $900k with the expectation that the round will provide runway for 12 to 18 months. Salaries at the upper end of the range ($150k) are correlated with larger seed rounds of around $1.5 million. While there is no correct answer to the question, here is my main take-away: it’s so critical to be capital-conscious at the seed stage. Within what will feel like an incredibly short, stressful period of time, the startup needs to build product, figure out the market, and get some initial traction. Every month of cash burn is valuable. By the way, to see some survey data on what other people think the founder/CEO salary should be, check out the OnStartups poll on founder salary.

The way I would like to do business

In ancient times it was said a merchant was not one of the more respectful and noble occupations. And until the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the motto of “greed is good” was the prevalent and widespread business approach. Still, it is not a shame to earn an income from a decent and honest livelihood. Most of us have to do this unless we had someone else to provide our needs (like parents or spouse or having inherited wealth from either) or simply on charity to survive in this material world (if only we can be like St Francis of Assisi). But we don’t live on bread alone and also aspire to do work that will help provide for a better community.

And so as I embark on the next journey of my life by doing a startup in the Philippines I would like to do it in the Bayanihan spirit. The following is a brief description of what the Tagalog word means with the beautiful painting that illustrates how is shown in action in a traditional Filipino setting.

 

Source: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/cag/bayanihan/

Painting

Bayanihan

Pronounced like “buy-uh-nee-hun,” bayanihan is a Filipino word derived from the word bayan meaning town, nation, or community in general. “Bayanihan” literally means, “being a bayan,” and is thus used to refer to a spirit of communal unity and cooperation.

Although bayanihan can manifest itself in many forms, it is probably most clearly and impressively displayed in the old tradition of neighbors helping a relocating family by getting enough volunteers to carry the whole house, and literally moving it to its new location. They do this by placing long bamboo poles length-wise and cross-wise under the house (traditional Filipino houses were built on stilts), and then carrying the house using this bamboo frame. It takes a fairly large number of people — often 20 or more — working together to carry the entire house. All this is done in a happy and festive mood. At the end of the day, the moving family expresses their gratitude by hosting a small fiesta for everyone.

Bayanihan has been a favorite subject of many artists. The picture above is from a mural by Filipino National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, commissioned in 1962 by UNILAB founder Jose Y. Campos, and currently on display at UNILAB’s administration building in Manila. It is used here with permission from UNILAB.

Competition for my dream idea is here

“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too late and we reach it.”

— Renaissance artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni on why it’s important to occasionally stretch yourself.

 

Just when I was decided to do a startup to do what I had planned for the past 6 years but never got the chance I read this news article.  Let’s see.

 

From Yahoo News

Finding your dream home can be a nightmare. How will consumers in the Philippines benefit from ZipMatch?

Having moved to the Philippines from California three years ago, John Dang couldn’t help but notice that there were an incredible number of buildings under construction. This mushroomed into a startup idea and he went on to launch ZipMatch in 2012. Yesterday, the real estate marketplace announced receiving an undisclosed amount of funds from local and foreign investors, including IMJ Fenox500StartupsIdeaSpace and Hatchd Digital.

How it all began
Yet, amidst a boom in the real estate scene is an extremely tedious process of buying, selling or leasing out apartments. Co-founder Dang told e27, “Searching for a home, however, remains a challenge and a common complaint. I had to sift through thousands of duplicate and spam listings without a clear picture of what is available in the market.”

Dang also spoke to many real estate brokers and developers to get a better understanding of the situation. He said that there is no central listing service and strong real estate regulatory board, which means that brokers have to depend on their personal networks.

“As a result, often times there are too many middlemen brokers involved in a real estate transaction, making the process very painful and slow,” he added.

ZipMatch was then founded to solve such inefficiencies, and automate the process of finding a property in the country through a digital solution. He noted, “We decide to gather as much data and available listings we could, as well as build our network of professionals, so that we can become the property matchmakers for this market.”

Read Also: Hunting for a house in India? These 5 apps will make it easier for you

He also raised the point that online classifieds sites Sulit and Ayosdito are not exactly the best way for consumers to find their dream homes. Dang said, “When you search through these listings, it’s easy to spend too many hours; I often get lost among thousands of listings and I often give up. It’s common to see many of the same listings put up by multiple brokers, so it’s hard to sort out what really is available.”

Changing dynamics
According to him, the real estate industry was also lagging behind in terms of professional service standards. So, how does ZipMatch bring value to the table, and help consumers better find a space fast and efficiently? At a glance, it seems that the website is a more systematic way of finding information, and learning more about the country. Real estate developers can also have their own microsites and listings.

“Unlike classified ads who are incentivised by monetising off impressions — so it benefits them to have tons and tons of listings (even if they are not quality), we want to focus on technology and service to help simplify the process and make it easier for them,” said Dang. He added, “We want to make sure we not only offer relevant and quality information along with rich content, we also want to provide a professional service. It’s important to us that home shoppers get timely and informative consultations.”

Dang said that the originally bootstrapped business has earned enough revenues from customer inquiries and leads to sustain itself.  The funds, on the other hand, will help scale the business and team.

The team had met its investors at last year’s Geeks on a Beach (GOAB) event in Boracay. Koichi Saito, General Manager, IMJ Fenox said in an official statement that his firm had invested in ZipMatch as the startup is coming up with out-of-the-box solutions for local real estate problems. He added, “… As people become tech-savvy, the demand for efficient ways of doing things online will grow rapidly.”

Another international investor, Khailee Ng of 500Startups, chimed in, “We’re always looking for the next big success story in each country, and we see this with ZipMatch.” Local investors also commended ZipMatch for its team and vision to solve a real problem faced by a “fast-growing economy”.

Should you buy a property in the Philippines

Based on this report investing in a property in the Philippines particularly in Makati may give you a good return in investment. Still, it may be a challenge doing it without the right information or contacts to help you get the best deal. Bear in mind the examples mentioned may not be representative of properties all over the country.

From the Global Property Guide

House price rises accelerating in the Philippines

by Lalaine C. Delmendo
Philippines house prices
The Philippine property market remains vibrant, with strong economic, growth boosted by robust domestic consumption and increases in government spending.During the year to end-Q2 2013, the average price of a luxury 3-bedroom condominium in Makati CBD soared by 12.92% (9.98% inflation-adjusted) to PHP128,730 (US$2,938) per square metre (sq. m.), higher than the annual rises of 5.6% in Q1 2013, 8% in Q4 and 8.3% in Q3 2012, according to Colliers International.During the latest quarter, high-end residential property prices in Makati CBD increased 6.92% (6.25% inflation-adjusted) in Q2 2013, the highest increase since Q4 1995.In other main districts:

  • In Bonifacio Global City, the average price of a premium 3-bedroom condominium rose by 12.4% y-o-y to PHP127,575 (US$2,911) per sq. m. in Q2 2013, or a quarterly increase of 5%.
  • In Rockwell Center, secondary residential property prices also increased by 10.6% y-o-y and 3.6% q-o-q, to an average of PHP132,770 (US$3,030) per sq. m. in Q2 2013

Land values have also been appreciating recently. In the second quarter of 2013:

  • In Makati CBD, land values rose by 8.32% to PHP283,185  (US$6,462) and PHP325,275 (US$7,423) per sq. m.  During the latest quarter, land prices increased by 2.06% in Q2 2013.
  • In Ortigas Center, land values increased by 6.45% to a range from PHP104,925 (US$2,394) to PHP171,860 (US$3,922) per sq. m. Quarter-on-quarter, land values rose by 1.75%.
  • In Bonifacio Global City, land values rose by 8.47% y-o-y and 1.8% q-o-q to a range from PHP200,850 (US$4,583) to PHP292,900 (US$6,684) per sq. m.

Rents are also rising. In Makati CBD, the average monthly rent of a premium 3-bedroom condominium rose by 7.2% y-o-y to PHP790 (US$18) per sq. m. in Q2 2013. Likewise, residential rental rates in Bonifacio Global City also increased by 7.4% to a monthly average of PHP780 (US$18) per sq. m. over the same period.

Total real estate loans country-wide soared by 42% to PHP546.51 billion (US$12.47 billion) in 2012 from the previous year, based on figures from theBangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country’s central bank. Despite the spectacular growth, the size of the mortgage market remains small at about 5.5% of GDP in 2012.

Most houses are sold for cash or pre-sold. Property buyers also face high transaction costs, corruption and red tape, fake land titles and substandard building practices.

Despite the obstacles, the Philippine real estate market has been booming due to increases in remittances from overseas Filipinos, and to the dramatic growth of business-process outsourcing:

  • Housing projects and mid-scale subdivisions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces are sustained by remittances.
  • The expanding business-process outsourcing (BPO) industry (primarily call centres), is responsible for growth in higher-end demand.

Residential property prices in Makati CBD, Bonifacio Global City and Ortigas Center are expected to rise by about 8% over the next 12 months, according to Colliers. In addition, the total housing stock in Metro Manila is expected to increase by 7,253 units by end-2013.

The Philippine economy is expected to expand by 7% in 2013, after real GDP growth of 6.6% in 2012, 3.9% in 2011 and 7.6% in 2010, according to theInternational Monetary Fund (IMF).

Still well below pre-Asian Crisis values!

Philippines luxury condominiumsBetween 1997 and 2004, luxury condominium prices dropped 30.4% (53.7% in real terms), as the Philippines experienced the biggest property crash of all economies affected by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. As with the present housing crisis in the US and Europe, a speculative bubble had formed in the 1990s after financial liberalization and economic reforms, pushing luxury condominium prices up 63% (35.3% in real terms) between 1995 and 1997.

Recovery from the subsequent crash has been slow. Nominal prices are now back above 1997 levels, but prices are still 46% below pre-Asian crisis peak levels in real terms (Q1 2012) – an astonishing reminder of how much the crash cost.

But in recent years, employees of new IT-related firms such as call centers and other business process outsourcing (BPO) firms have boosted demand for rental housing, with a ripple effect on the construction, retail, and telecommunications sectors, resulting in property price increases of 59.3% (16.2% in real terms) from 2005 to 2008.

In 2009, luxury condo price growth slowed to a meagre 0.2% y-o-y (-3.81% in real terms), hit by the global financial meltdown. But the significant economic recovery of the Philippines that started in 2010 is now propelling prices up again, with 5.5% price rises in 2011 (0.72% in real terms).

OFWs buy affordable properties, BPOs expand local demand

Overseas Filipinos’ remittances are powering the low-end to mid-range residential property market. They are snapping up housing projects and mid-scale subdivisions in regions near Metro Manila such as Cavite, Batangas and Laguna Provinces, while the expansion of the upper residential market, including the luxury market, is due to increased housing demand from BPO employees and expatriates, according to the World Bank.

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).account for around 17% to 18% of residential sales of Ayala Land, one of the country’s major developers. In the next five years Ayala Land President Antonio Aquino expects to double this, by branching out to the affordable and low-end market segment.

Ayala Land is a late entrant to this market, previously dominated by companies such as Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. Around 55% of Vista Land’s reservation sales currently go to OFWs in Asia, Europe and Middle East, while US-based OFWs account for another 5% to 10% of sales.

There are approximately 9 million Overseas Filipinos (OF) worldwide, or around 10% of the Philippine population. Of all OFs, 46.8% are permanent.

Among the permanent OFs, 65.2% reside in the US, followed by Canada (13.1%), Europe (7.1%), Australia (6.8%), and Japan (3.4%), according to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO).

Employment in the Philippine Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry grew by 22% to 638,000 people in 2011, according to the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) President and Chief Executive Benedict Hernandez.

The BPO industry had USD 10.9 billion in revenues in 2011, but is expected to employ 1.3 million workers and generate USD 25 billion in revenues by 2016.

Slower remittance growth

Philippines overseas remittancesRemittances from OFs reached USD 20.1 billion in 2011, around 9.4% of GDP, up 7.2% on 2010. It is estimated that 60% of these remittances go directly or indirectly to the real estate sector, according to the World Bank.

Remittances are expected to grow by only 5% in 2012, sharply down on growth before the global financial meltdown in 2009. In 2008, remittances rose 13.7%, following a 13.2% rise in 2007, 19.4% in 2006 and 25% in 2005.

The World Bank believes the remittances slowdown is due to:

  • Stricter Implementation of the migrant workers’ bill of rights;
  • Political uncertainties in host countries; and
  • The slowdown in the advanced economies.

It’s happening despite a problematic mortgage market

Most houses in the Philippines are sold for cash or pre-sold, due to an underdeveloped mortgage market. Property buyers also face high transaction costs, corruption and red tape, fake land titles and substandard building practices.

These are real problems. Few major banks offer housing loans. Different banks’ loans have strangely similar terms and conditions, and approval of loan applications takes a long time. Land titling and registration problems are prevalent, as are delays in the foreclosure process. Because of these factors, the ratio of housing loans to GDP remains small, at around 2.3% in 2011.

Outstanding real estate loans for acquisition of residential property grew by 17.3% in 2011, and by an average of 16% annually from 2001 to 2007, to PHP 220.8 (USD 5.28) billion. Real estate loans for acquisition of residential properties were up by 21.1% during the year to Q1 2012.

Housing loan demand has increased due to lower interest rates, and banks’ more attractive financing terms. Credit standards for housing loans somewhat eased in Q1 2012, according to the Senior Bank Loan Officers’ Survey, conducted by theBanko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) (see latest results). Further growth seems likely.

Philippines real estate loansIn July 2012, the BSP cut its key policy rates by 25 basis points to 3.75% for the overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase (RRP) facility, and 5.75 percent for the overnight lending and repurchase facility (RF). Despite that, housing loan rates charged by major commercial banks remain high at 7.1% for one-year fixed loans, and at least 8.75% for mortgages with fixed rates for five years or more.

The government-owned Pag-ibig Fund (Home Development Mutual Fund) offers lower interest rates ranging 6% to 11.5%, depending on the amount borrowed and loan conditions. Compared to bank loans, the amount that can be borrowed is lower (maximum amount of PHP 3 million can be borrowed), but the payment periods are longer and loan-to-value ratios are higher (80% LTV ratio). Membership requirements have to be fulfilled to get a loan.

Rental yields are high in Manila

The average rental yield for condominiums in Metro Manila was around 8.72% in October 2011, according to the Global Property Guide research.

  • The highest returns are on the 80 sq. m. units with gross rental yields of nearly 10%, suggesting an oversupply of the very smallest condos.
  • Yields are also high on very large condominiums, at around 7.9%.

Rentals are visibly rising, as confidence continues to increase, with more foreign investment and improved infrastructure coming into the country.

In Q1 2012, the average rent for luxury three-bedroom condominiums in Makati CBD reached PHP 658 (USD 15.74) per sq. m., up by 4.8% from the previous quarter (4.3% in real terms), and 17.5% up on a year earlier (14% in real terms), according toColliers International.

The average rent in Bonifacio Global City rose by 4.3% q-o-q to PHP 685 (USD 16.69) per sq. m,. The recent completion of Raffles Residences in Makati is expected to narrow the gap between the rental rates of Bonifacio Global City and Makati CBD, and could cause upward pressure on both districts’ average premium rates.

Rents in Rockwell Center were up by 1.3% q-o-q, and now average PHP 780 (USD 18.66) per sq. m., and are expected to hit PHP 800 per sq. m. by the end of the year.

No housing glut

The accumulated supply of high-end and mid-end residential condominiums from 1999 to 2011 was 118,230 units, according to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) research.

  • 97% of these are mid-end range (priced PHP 1.5 million to PHP 10 million with an average unit size of 150 sq. m., or PHP 50,000 to PHP 110,000 per sq. m.),
  • 3% (around 3,690) are high-end units (priced PHP 10 million above with an average size of 160 sq. m. up, or PHP 120,000 above per sq. m.).

A sharp increase in new supply began in 2005. Since then, supply growth has averaged more than 30% annually. The total stock of condominiums jumped from 7,000 at the beginning of the millennium, to around 90,000 units by end of 2011, according to JLL. But Jll sees no glut, and CBRE Philippines’ executive director for global research and consultancy, Victor Asuncion, shares the same viewpoint.

“It´s still location, location, location. There are some irrational developers who build anywhere and then complain that they don´t sell and say there is a glut. You have to build where the market is and developers are positioning where the market is,” said Asuncion.

Vacancy rates in Makati rose to 11.7% in Q1 2012 from 9.4% a year earlier, according to Colliers. The rise is attributable to new condominiums adjacent to, but not in, Makati – and in regions near Metro Manila.

Around 48% of condominiums built between 2004 and 2008 were in CALABARZON, a fast-growing region just beside Metro Manila. The Metro Manila region only had the fourth most residential properties built, among the eight regions (from 2004 to 2008. 17% of the total condo newbuilds were in Metro Manila. On the other hand, 11% of total single house constructions were in Metro Manila).

A noticeable increase of new condominium is also obvious in provincial cities such as Davao, Cebu and Iloilo. Cebu, for example, has strong demand, with a take-up rate of 434 units a month, according to CBRE.

Quezon City heads the surge with 24% of upcoming supply in Metro Manila. It is followed by Makati (18%), Mandaluyong (15%), and Manila (12%). These four cities alone comprise two-thirds of total upcoming supply in Metro Manila.

Around 33,000 units were completed in 2011, while over 50,000 units were launched, according to Colliers International, a 48% rise in completions during the year to Q1 2012. An estimate of 8,253 units of new residential supply in Metro Manila’s key districts will be added in 2012, while around 5,028 more completed units will be added in 2013.

How to have fun in the Philippines

I was born in Manila yet there is so much I have not seen of the country of my birth (likewise for Australia where I now reside). But I will be spending more time in the country in the immediate future and maybe I should try to have more fun while being there. One approach is to experience the many fiesta celebrations observed. I will have still some months free to rest and re-cooperate for the longest Christmas celebration.

I apologise if I fail to acknowledge the source of the following information. I am not sure I think I copied it from an online source from the US.

From Source forgotten

Philippine Fiesta Celebrations
(Philippine Festivals)

January Philippine Fiesta

Feast of the Black Nazarene – held every 9th of January in Quiapo, Manila. Devotees of that number in the thousands flock around the life-size statue of the Black Nazarene (Jesus Christ) as it inches across the streets packed with devotees around Quiapo church. Devotees attribute many miracles to this 400 year old image which was brought to the the Philippines from Mexico in the 7th century.

Sinulog Festival – celebrated every 3rd week of January in Cebu City. This Philippine fiesta in Visayas region celebrates Cebu’s patron saint, the Santo Niño (Child Christ). This week long event is marked by processions, street dancing and parades. This fiesta is a local version of the Mardi gras.

Ati-Atihan Festival – fiesta starts from the16th to the 22nd of January in Kalibo, Aklan. Revelers masquerading as Negritos in colorful costumes, dance to the beat of drums while chanting “Hala Bira!” in preparation to the Sunday procession in honor of the Santo Niño.

 

February Philippine Fiesta

Feast of Our Lady Of Candles – every 2nd of February in Jaro, Iloilo City. This is the biggest and most opulent religious fiesta in the Western Visayas region. The blessing of the candles and the yearly procession of the patroness, the Nuestra Señora de Candelaria is followed by the fiesta’s queen and her court which highlights the fiesta at the town plaza.

Babaylan Festival – held every 19th of February in Bago City, Negros Occidental. The public gets a rare view into the simulated rituals of mystics, ancient healers and priests in various ceremonies such as marriage, healing and harvest.

 
March Philippine Fiesta

Eid El Fitir – commemorated every 9th of March in Region XII in Mindanao. Muslim Filipinos mark the end of their 30-day fasting as the crescent moon emerges after the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Moriones Festival – reenacted during the Holy Week in Boac, Marinduque. This Philippine fiesta is based on a play about the story of Longinus, the centurion whose blind eye is cured by a drop of Jesus Christ’s blood. Actors wear colorful wooden mask and dressed as Roman soldiers.

 
April Philippine Fiesta

Manaoag Pilgrimage – held every 2nd week of April in Manaoag, Pangasinan. Devotees and pilgrims flock to the shrine of Nuestra Señora de Manaoag for the feast of the patroness of the sick, the needy and the helpless. Her image is believed to be miraculous.

 
May Philippine Fiesta

Flores de Mayo – held nationwide during the month of May. Literally meaning the “flowers of May”, this fiesta commemorates the search for the Holy Cross by Reyna Elena and her son, the emperor Constantine. This Philippine wide fiesta is marked by a parade of maidens escorted by young men under floral arches. The main participant represents Reyna Elena and the emperor.

Pulilan Carabao Festival – held every 14th of May in Pulilan, Bulacan. Hundreds of festively adorned carabaos are paraded by the farmers on the street leading to the church. There they are made to kneel down to pay homage to San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.

Pahiyas – every 15th of May, farm families give thanks to San Isidro Labrador for a good harvest by decorating their houses with brightly colored rice wafers called kiping.

Obando Fertility Rites – held from May 17 to 19 in Obando, Bulacan. Massive numbers of men and women dance towards the town church praying for a wife, husband or a child. The pilgrims dance to San Pascual Baylon, Santa Clara de Assisi or the Virgen de Salambao for their wishes.

 
June Philippine Fiesta

Parada ng Lechon – on the 24th of June in Balayan, Batangas, this festival literally translated as the “parade of roasted pigs”. This fiesta is a celebration of the feast of St. John the Baptist. Roasted pigs are dressed up and paraded around town before being eaten.

Pintados Festival – every 29th of June in Tacloban, Leyte, town folks parade through town with colorful body paint to recall their ancient warrior tradition where tattoos represented bravery and prestige.

 
July Philippine Fiesta

Bocaue River Festival – held every 1st Sunday of July in Bucaue, Bulacan. The highlight of this Philippine fiesta is the fluvial procession in honor of the miraculous Krus ng Wawa or Cross of Bocaue. Devotees douse each other with water as they scramble to ride the pagoda boat.

Raja Baguinda Festival – the 3 day festivities start on the 2nd week of August in Jolo, Sulu. The festivities commemorate the arrival of Raja Baguinda who is credited of spreading the Islam faith to the Sultanate of Sulu.

Sandugo Festival – which literally means “one blood”, celebrates the blood compact between local chieftain Datu Sikatuna and Captain General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The festival is celebrated with street dancing, shows, trade fairs, beauty contest and other activities. Sandugo Festival is a month long celebration culminating at Tagbilaran City, Bohol on the 3rd week of July.

 
August Philippine Fiesta

Kadayawan Sa Dabaw – held every 3rd week of August in Davao City.This festival give thanks to to the bounty of fruits and flowerers as the waling-waling orchid blooms. Colorful floats are bedecked with beautiful orchids and other flowers in the grand parade.
September Philippine Fiesta

Feast of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia – celebrated every 3rd Saturday of September in Naga, Camarines Sur, Bicol Region. Highlight of this fiesta is the grand fluvial parade where the image of the Lady of Peñafrancia is carried through the river aglow with floating candles.
October Philippine Fiesta

Masskara Festival – held every 3rd week of October in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Mask-making puts a quaint accent on the festivities to mark Bacolod City’s charter day. Brass bands, beauty contests and parades are held before the evening’s highlight of street dance where folks wear their beautiful masks.

 
November Philippine Fiesta

Higantes Festival – from November 22 to 23 in Angono, Rizal, male devotees carry the image of San Clemente in a procession that features pahadores, clad in colorful garb and wooden shoes and carrying boat paddles and higantes (giants) 10 feet tall papier mache puppets.
December Philippine Fiesta

San Fernando Giant Lantern Festival – celebrated the whole month of December in San Fernando, Pampanga. The festival culminates in a judging contest of the best, biggest and most beautiful Christmas lantern made by the local craftsmen in San Fernando.

Binirayan Festival – fiesta dates are from the 28th to the 30th of December in San Jose Antique. Ethnic pageantry reaches a new high on the beaches of Maybato in San Jose and Malandong in Hamtik, where the drama of the first Malay settlement at Malandong is played out.

 

Start-up lessons from the founders of Everbrite

Here’s good advise I got from the founders of Everbrite. Now let me put it into practice.

Top five tips for startup success from Eventbrite founders

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 | By Rose Powell

Kevin and Julia Hartz had just got engaged when they decided to tackle the frustrating world of ticketing, launching a rough and ready online platform in 2006 called Eventbrite.

Since then, the company has grown from a couple with big dreams to a global company with 350 staff and over one million events hosted by the platform in 2013.

The Hartz are in Australia to launch a local office, because despite the small population, 4% of their business comes from Australia.

They shared their top five tips for startups with StartupSmart.

Start slow, stay focused and set yourself up for success

Eventbrite grew slowly at first, but organically all along. They say their best tip for growth is that it’s sheer hard work.

“Customer acquisition in the beginning was hard,” Julia says, adding the biggest challenge was to convince event organisers to try Eventbrite out. “Honestly, back then, our biggest competition was email and Excel.”

After getting early users at a few technology events, the network began to unfurl as they focused on opening up a whole new market segment of independent coordinators rather than major venues.

“It’s extremely hard to focus throughout the whole lifecycle, particularly at the beginning when you’re looking for opportunities to grow. But you need to know what you really want to do, and we wanted to help organisers sell more tickets.”

Test growth strategies, pick a couple that work but stay nimble

As the team began to get traction, the Hartz started experimenting with growth strategies.

“Really we grew through lots of incremental growth and we were very focused on the ‘how’ when we got new users,” Julia says.

After focusing on search engine optimisation and content marketing, Julia says their growth inflection point came as Facebook and Twitter took off, shifting their strategy.

“We realised people could share where they were going and promote their events in a new way. We moved quickly to integrate our platform with their APIs,” Hartz says.

Run your company as a team, because that’s what it is

As the company began to take off, the couple realised they needed to scale their team quickly, but wanted to make sure they grew properly.

“We’re a team and in a sense family,” says Kevin. “We spend a lot of time together and you build strong relationships. As the owners, we certainly want everyone to do their best work and we can help with that.”

They add despite the rapid growth, they still both work in the middle of an open plan office and move around to ensure they’ve got a sense of what’s going on in every team.

Be clear about what each cofounder does and stay out of each other’s way

Julia and Kevin’s cofounder relationship has required extra effort and care as they are also married and parents together.

“We’ve learned to manoeuvre around it,” Julia says. “It comes down to divide and conquer. We don’t work on the same thing at the same time, partly to avoid conflict and overlap but also so we can get to where we need to be faster.”

She adds while they don’t have hard and fast boundaries between work and home, their kids provide a natural buffer and balance.

Startups are always hard so dream big and make it happen

Kevin adds often new founders underestimate both their own potential and just how much work is needed to make a business work.

“Go after very large markets. If you’re going to throw yourself in, think really big. It’s just as hard to build a world wide impact company as a new small product impact,” he says.

He also adds that trends come and go, and if everyone is doing something it’s probably not the best direction.

“Be contrarian. And make your idea happen your way even if it means swim against the tide.”

The couple have no plans to exit Eventbrite.

Its now fun to get a Manila taxi too

Wow. Living in Sydney I always thought there will be a lot of things Manila would not have which will be taken as a given here. Now I know I am so wrong. This app is giving first world service for the taxi going public.  Another wow factor about it was it was conceived in a business school competition (ok its Harvard). Wonder if they would be interested to bring it here.

From Rappler

GrabTaxi app: Answer to commuter woes

BY PETER IMBONG
POSTED ON 08/27/2013

NO MORE HEADACHES. Getting a safe cab ride is an app click away. All photos by Peter Imbong. All sample screens courtesy of GrabTaxi.NO MORE HEADACHES. Getting a safe cab ride is an app click away. All photos by Peter Imbong. All sample screens courtesy of GrabTaxi.

MANILA, Philippines – I was both pleased and annoyed.

It was 9:30 in the morning and, from my bedroom, I could hear the familiar sound of knuckles on our iron front gate.

A second later, the voice of our house assistant rang through the house as she called out my name.

The cab I requested via GrabTaxi had arrived — more than 30 minutes early.

GrabTaxi, a new smartphone application that seeks to help commuters find cabs and cab drivers find passengers, was launched recently. I decided to take the app out for spin in the streets of Metro Manila.

READ: Need a cab? There’s an app for that!

According to CEO and founder Anthony Tan, aside from helping people find a cab, GrabTaxi is also supposed to eliminate the all-too familiar commuter predicament of cab drivers turning down passengers, haggling over the fare and — of course — the constant worrying over the safety of the cab and its driver.

Through the app [available on both Android and iOS], passengers’ taxi bookings are blasted out to drivers within a 3 kilometer radius. Through smartphones used as dispatch tools, the taxis in the area are alerted of your request and can bid for the job. Once matched, both the driver and the passenger are given direct contacts to each other for better communication.

I used GrabTaxi twice in the course of two days: first in the evening, and the second instance in the next morning.

Here’s how it went:

The app

My first booking was on a Wednesday evening. I was coming from a cocktail party in one of the establishments along Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City. It had been a long night and the party just happened to revolve around different types of alcoholic beverages. Suffice to say I was intoxicated, dazed and a bit drowsy.

EASY STEPS. One, indicate your location and your destination. Two, the app will show you the fleets in the area. Three, you will be matched to a driver and will be given his details, photo and a way to track him. Painless!  EASY STEPS. One, indicate your location and your destination. Two, the app will show you the fleets in the area. Three, you will be matched to a driver and will be given his details, photo and a way to track him. Painless!

I opened the GrabTaxi app and it immediately determined my location with a dot on the map. In the first box, I indicated my exact location. In the second box I put in my home address. Within seconds, the app identified more than 10 cabs within a 3 kilometer radius of where I was. A few seconds later, a notice came up indicating a cab was already on its way to fetch me.

All the driver’s details were displayed on the screen: his name, mobile number, the car’s license plate number and a countdown of how many minutes it would take him to get where I was standing. If I looked closer, I would have actually seen him inch closer and closer to where I was standing on the map.

For a first-time user, it was such a treat to stare at a moving taxi icon on the screen. I had a feeling the novelty was not going to wear off anytime soon.

Punctuality

It was 11:15pm. Based on the GPS tracking, my cab was less than a kilometer away. The app indicated that it would take him 5 minutes to arrive. A few seconds later, it said 4 minutes. It started to count down and then went back to 5 minutes. On the GPS, I could see he had gotten stuck somewhere in the Market! Market! area.

15 minutes later, at 11:30pm, Felipe Capion of Ultimax Transport pulled over in front of the curb where I was standing.

My second GrabTaxi driver the next morning was a little bit too excited. He was Jophel Calipayan of 24/7 Taxi Service. I had expected him to arrive at 10am, but at 9:30am he was already parked in front of our house, ready to go. Our destination was Taguig [again].

AT YOUR SERVICE! The happy driver who picked me up the morning I used GrabTaxi, Jophel CalipayanAT YOUR SERVICE! The happy driver who picked me up the morning I used GrabTaxi, Jophel Calipayan

On the road

We were headed to the South on a weekday morning. Taking EDSA was not an option. I asked Jophel to take C5 road instead. He agreed with my plan after asking for directions on how to get out of our village.

At this point, the meter was still at P0. It was only after I sat down and closed the door that the driver started the meter with a P40 flat rate.

The cab was clean, had no suspicious stains on the upholstery and smelled of pine air freshener bought from the gas station. On both cabs, attached to the windshield was a mobile phone mount; in it sat a Cloud smartphone which was running the GrabTaxi app.

MAKE SURE TO SEE THIS. A Cloud phone with the GrabTaxi app is installed in the cab's windshieldMAKE SURE TO SEE THIS. A Cloud phone with the GrabTaxi app is installed in the cab’s windshield

On the window of the right passenger seat was a printed, laminated brochure from GrabTaxi explaining how to download and use the application. (Download Grab Taxi app for Android and iOS)

HOW TO. The app is easy to use. If you need extra information, you'll find it in the GrabTaxi cab.HOW TO. The app is easy to use. If you need extra information, you’ll find it in the GrabTaxi cab.

In the course of our journey along C5 that morning, my driver was in the perfect mood. He had an album of the Bee Gees playing in the background. As Robin Gibb sang, asking the perennial question of how to mend a broken heart, my driver used his turn signals properly, giving way to pedestrians and following traffic lights.

My only gripe was that he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. We spent the next 30 minutes talking about the app and how it has made finding passengers easier for him.

Felipe, on the other hand [from the night before], was not a chatty cabbie. However, being as it was close to midnight, I understood. I asked him why it took him 15 minutes to get to me. He said there was a slight vehicular accident around the mall area that stalled him a bit. After clicking in his seatbelt and punching a button on the meter to get it started, we were off into the night.

SHARE THE FEED. Let your family and friends know through social media where to track your tripSHARE THE FEED. Let your family and friends know through social media where to track your tripDuring the trip, passengers have the option of posting a message on Facebook or Twitter through the app. The message contains the car’s license number together with a link to the GrabTaxi website which allows your friends to follow your journey in real time. It’s an ingenious feature for those who make it a habit of texting people their cab license plate to a loved one. The GPS tracking makes it even better.

However, I was in no mood to declare to the rest of the world where I was, and found no reason to suspect my driver was taking me somewhere else.

I arrived home some 20 minutes later. I paid the meter charge along with the additional P70 fee, and gave him a little extra considering the time.

Feedback

Both my experiences were very successful. In the course of my morning ride with Jophen, though, he told me of an instance of double-booking: he arrived at the passenger’s home only to find out that another taxi, also affiliated with GrabTaxi, arrived earlier than him and picked the passenger up leaving him wondering what happened.

For most concerns, GrabTaxi has several lines of communication to receive passengers’ feedback. At the end of your journey, there’s an option in the app for you to send your feedback.

Or at your own time, you can send them a tweet [@GrabTaxiPH], a message on Facebook [Facebook.com/GrabTaxiPH], or an e-mail [passenger.mnl@grabtaxi.com].

GrabTaxi is an app long overdue. In a place as chaotic, crowded and unpredictable like Metro Manila, it’s a concrete step towards creating a more organized, systematic and efficient way of riding public transportation — even if it is an air-conditioned cab.

One can only hope that more fleets in the city [and, perhaps, the rest of the country] will recognize the benefits of using the application, for both passengers and drivers.

Now if I could only pay for my fare with a credit card. – Rappler.com

Peter ImbongPeter Imbong

 

Peter Imbong is a fulltime freelance writer, sometimes a stylist; and on some strange nights, a host. After starting his career in a business magazine, he now writes about lifestyle, entertainment, fashion, and profiles of different personalities. Check out his blog, Peter Tries to Write.

 

The Aussie equivalent of Open Table

The huge success of the goliath Open Table in restaurant reservations has been matched by the Australian Dimmi. And from reading this article one would see the world domination of Open Table will now have an Aussie challenger. Whoever wins will be a question of who has first mover advantage on developing the market.

From the Wall Street Journal

  • June 29, 2012, 8:18 PM EDT

Meet Australia’s Answer to OpenTable

ByGillian Tan

News Limited
Dimmi CEO and founder Stevan Premutico

Australia’s answer to Nasdaq-listed online restaurant reservations provider OpenTable, Dimmi, has secured strategic investments from Telstra’s Application and Ventures Group and film distributor-theme park owner Village Roadshow in its fifth capital rising.

Dimmi, which has partnerships with more than 2,500 Australian restaurants, has seated more than 2.5 million diners since its 2009 inception. It trails OpenTable’s 325 million diners since 1998, but it’s a strong start for the high-growth company that currently has 30 employees excluding its heavyweight board of directors.

Dimmi’s chairman is Macquarie Group division director Glen Butler while nonexecutive directors include Google’s Asia Pacific Director of Mobile William EastonLinkedIn Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand Cliff Rosenberg and Group Managing Director of Telstra Applications and Ventures Deena Shiff, some of whom are individually invested in the online venture.

Dimmi founder Stevan Premutico spoke to Deal Journal Australia about the company’s origin, growth plans and the Australian restaurant industry.

WSJ: How did you come up with the idea for Dimmi?

Mr. Premutico: The seed was planted when I ran marketing for Hilton both in Australia and the United Kingdom which included its hotels, restaurants and bars. I realized how tough it was for restaurants to fill tables and at the same time saw the emergence of third-party distribution channels to help hotels like Wotif.com, Lastminute.com and Expedia which were filling empty inventory.  From there I started building the concept of how to help restaurants fill empty tables and help diners to easily search for, discover and book restaurants. We really want to digitize an industry which is years behind others.

WSJ: How did you come up with the name?

Mr. Premutico: I think it was harder than raising capital! It took 18 months, I just couldn’t crack it. One day, I was sitting at a cafe in the Sydney suburb of Leichardt and the waiter said “Dimmi”, which means “tell me” in Italian.

WSJ: Can you talk about Dimmi’s strategic partnerships?

Mr. Premutico: We’re in partnership with brands like the Good Food Guide, American Express, Gourmet Traveler, Urbanspoon and Google which has helped build our network and reach. Our Google partnership which launches next month will be about allowing consumers to search, discover and book in real-time. We’ve already got one in three of Australian restaurants on board and our goal is to increase that to 50% shortly.  That includes more than half the restaurants in Australia’s most populous states New South Wales and Victoria.

Dimmi
Dimmi’s news feed function, which shows friends’ ratings and reviews

WSJWhat trends are you seeing in restaurant reservations?

Mr.Premutico:  It hurts me when I see a big black reservation book because I know restaurants are losing thousands of dollars a week. We want to replace those books with a web-based booking system that is cost-effective and allows restaurants to develop databases for customer recognition. Online bookings through Dimmi cost restaurants between A$1 and A$3 a customer or A$6.60 a table. Restaurants are going out of business because they’re not able to effectively fill tables. In San Francisco, 50% of restaurant bookings are made online and in Australia, it’s 2% so there’s so much growth. Australians book flights and hotels online, creating typical capacity of between 80% and 95%. The capacity of restaurants is on average 36% which is crippling them and we’ve even seen a decline in the number of restaurants that previously had a “no bookings” policy.

WSJ: What trends are you seeing in terms of closures and openings?

Mr. Premutico: It’s less about white tablecloths and more about having an enjoyable but affordable meal. The restaurants that are closing down are typically in the mid-to-upper end of the market but new entrants are casual dining groups which have a A$50 threshold.

WSJ: What’s so compelling about Dimmi?

Mr. Premutico: We essentially create a binding commitment between customers and restaurants. No-shows are about 2% across the country, which hurts restaurants and causes them to increase prices which in turn hurts diners. With an airline, you know you’ll forfeit a certain amount if you miss a flight and we’re looking to introduce that for some restaurants in peak time slots to eliminate no-shows.  Also, restaurants and their owners can get genuine customer feedback about how to improve. Diners want to provide reviews because they get additional reward points towards free meals but also, reviews are only from users who have booked and dined through Dimmi.  That means there’s an integrity to reviews unlike Yelp! where anyone including competitors can just jump on and review a restaurant.

WSJ: How will Telstra and Village Roadshow’s investments boost Dimmi’s growth?

Mr. Premutico: It’s easy for a start-up to chase cash but we were always focused on targeting “smart cash,” meaning investors who come with strategic value and additional distribution reach. Through Telstra, we’ve launched a BigPond dining partnership and we’re doing exciting things around phone devices like their T-Hub while with Village Roadshow we’ll work with on adding our services to their cinema and theme-park ticketing.

WSJ: Can you talk about the integration of social media?

Dimmi
Dimmi’s iView function

Mr. Premutico: Everyone knows food is a social experience and nothing is more valuable to me than my friends’ opinions, which is why we introduced a news feed function to our mobile app which is solely available on Apple iPhones.  If you login with Facebook, the news feed shows where your friends dined and reviews and ratings of the restaurant which adds actual value to future decisions.  Separately, we want to help spontaneous diners on-the-go who want recommendations, which explains the iView function on our app which shows nearby restaurants.  Since the app launched on June 1, 25% of our bookings are now generated through mobile.

WSJ: What are Dimmi’s growth ambitions?

Mr. Premutico: We currently have 350,000 people in our database who we want to inspire to eat out more often, a number which we’ll hope to grow through partnerships like Telstra, given they’re Australia’s largest provider of mobile devices.  It doesn’t make sense restaurants don’t have preferred rates for key corporates so we have plans to enable that. There’s a number of global markets that are relatively untapped so our long-term target is international growth and expansion, and the first stop will be Asia.

 

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