Silicon Valley technopreneurs see tremendous start-up opportunity in Philippines

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Posted on: June 4, 2014

By Ehda M. Dagooc

CEBU, Philippines – A successful Silicon Valley technopreneur urged the Filipino business community to take advantage of the rich talents in the Philippines and lead in providing start-up geeks here opportunity to seize the huge commercial potential of good technology innovations and concepts.

Khailee Ng, a young Malaysian who owns the 500 Startup company in Silicon Valley, said that now is the time for the Philippines to grow its Venture Capital ecosystem while its still teeming with brilliant minds in technology innovation.

“If the Filipino business community does not invest now, they will miss the boat. There’s a lot of money to be made from start-up, they should pay attention to that,” Ng said in an interview emphasizing that if Filipino businessmen will not grab this opportunity, other foreign investors will.

Across industries there are a lot of wealth-producing technology innovations that can be hatched by Filipino geeks, and even now there is tremendous abundance of good ideas and concepts in the Philippines that remained stuck, some even die, because of lack of funding and help from the business community.

The good news, Ng said, is that being a start-up doesn’t need to cost so much investment. “The rise of VCs has begun.”

The Philippines is one of the markets that the international start-up funders or VCs are looking at. In fact, Ng together with other active and successful technopreneurs in Silicon Valley has already set up their offices in the Philippines, specifically in Cebu to spot good start-up innovations and concepts that have good commercial potential.

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Ng founded the Philippine-based company called Match.com.ph and is already helping around four Filipino start-up companies to make it big in the world market.

Likewise, Bowei Gai, a serial entrepreneur also from Silicon Valley who traveled in 29 countries and 36 cities last year to document the world’s start-up communities through “World Start-Up Report,” has already made Cebu his headquarter.

Both Ng and Gai agreed that there is a tremendous opportunity in the Philippines in terms of developing start-ups. It is therefore very important for the country to build a strong foundation for start-up community in technology innovation, aside from advancing its industry-based IT and outsourcing sector.

According to Ng, the initiative of Cebu to form a “start-up weekend” series of events, as well as holding an annual “Geeks in the Beach” forum has gotten the attention of the world start-up community, while the Philippines is one of hottest countries in Southeast Asia seen to have good “breeding ground” for next wave of start-up success stories like that of Facebook and Instagram, among others.

For his part, Gai said the rise of start-ups in the Philippines is favored by the country’s high internet-awareness, text-savvy young generation and significant English-speaking population.

“The Filipino start-up community is still in the infancy stage but the country is ripe with opportunities,” said Gai.