By Katlene O. Cacho
Sunday, April 13, 2014
ALTHOUGH the Philippines does not yet have a highly-developed startup ecosystem yet, organizers of the fourth Startup Weekend Cebu (SWC) said the local community has showed signs of growth since 2012.
Organizers also reported growing interest from government and the business community.
TechTalks.ph founder Tina Amper said in a press conference last Friday that those who succeeded in the local startup scene were teams who never gave up in developing their products, joining startup activities and looking for potential investors.
Amper said some winning teams at Startup Weekend (SW) have won in hackathons and incubation programs abroad.
She cited Team Testcovery, which won in SW Davao in 2012, that travelled to Manila and bagged the top prize for the Manila leg of AngelHack, dubbed the largest hackathon in the world, for Pagesnapp, a service they developed that enables businesses to easily create a mobile app based only on their official Facebook pages.
The top prize includes a trip to Silicon Valley for the Angel Hack Global Finals last October 2013 to pitch their startup ideas to angel investors and funders.
But aside from the opportunities, Amper said there were also challenges.
She said that the four Davao-based developers had to raise funds for their trip to Silicon Valley.
“It’s a tough battle out there. Only those motivated and courageous can survive the challenges,” she said, noting that only three percent of the startups can become successful while the 97 percent fails.
Amper is optimistic, though, that the Philippines will one day produce its own Skype given the country’s abundant, creative and trainable tech-Filipinos. She said Cebu plays a major role, being a hub for global outsourcing and software development.
“The call center industry is providing huge revenues for the country giving the young generation a salary of at least P20,000, but what we are doing at the startup weekends is to create a new breed of technopreneurs that can create software products to create sustainable businesses,” said Amper.
Organizers of SW announced the fourth edition of SWC on June 6-8 at the University of Cebu-Banilad Campus.
SWC 4, which is organized by TechTalks.ph and Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology (DOST-ICTO) Office and supported by Cebu Educational Development Foundation for IT (Cedf-IT), is aimed at generating breakthrough ideas from tech communities in the Visayas Region.
The organizers are also holding Startup Weekend in Bohol on May 23-25 at the University of Bohol, Tagbilaran City.
Entrepreneurs Rica Serenio and Ben Skelton will be leading SW Cebu and SW Bohol, respectively, with target participants of 125 and 120.
“Mounting the SW for the first time in Bohol is an indication that the province is open for business and more investments in the IT industry,” said Amper.
“This is also our way of spreading IT in the countryside. There is a good number of students and professionals interested in events like this,” Skelton said.
SW is a 54-hour competition where developers, designers, marketers, technopreneurs, and venture capitalists come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startup businesses. The whole event involves the participants in different stages of the business cycle including idea creation and business pitching, prototype development, mentorship and networking sessions bringing the product or business presentation to possible investors and funders.
Amper said the DOST-ICTO office is extending financial support of P100,000 each for the six SW events slated for the year.
DOST undersecretary and ICT office executive director Louis Napoleon Casambre said in a statement that the ICT office’s new thrust is to uplift technology entrepreneurship.
“The DOST-ICT Office believes that providing support in countryside entrepreneurial activities is an effective way in livening and expanding the local economy through ICT,” said Casambre.
“Promotion of homegrown ICT products and businesses will not only provide employment in the countryside but also help develop innovative and creative solutions that can address not only the local but also the global market,” he said.
Anthony Noel, business development officer at Lenddo, said there is now a growing focus on IT startups.
“The ICT-BPO conference of the chamber is no longer limited to the BPO industry anymore but it has taken into consideration the growing startup community,” said Noel.
“There is now a growing interest and they are (business community) now more open to investing.”
Amper also announced that the 2nd Geeks On A Beach (GOAB ) event is scheduled on August 21-22 in Mactan, Cebu. The event will have a sidetrip to Bohol. The first GOAB was held in Boracay and was attended by 339 participants.