Filipino techpreneurial spirit ablaze in VIA Startup Summit

by Emily Manuel
Contributor, Eagle News

Participants at the VIA Startup Summit held at Makati City on November 28, 2018. Photo courtesy of Emily Manuel. 

MANILA — Key experts and industry leaders gathered at the VIA Startup Summit held at the Green Sun Hotel, Makati City, last 28 November 2018 to recognize the valuable contribution of startups to the local economy and discuss ways to foster their development.

Among them were Director Senen Perlada from the Export Marketing Bureau of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Dentsu Aegis Network Philippines’ Country CEO, Donald Lim, Chris Morris, Head of NGO and Civil Society Center of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Hendrick Kiamzon, Executive Vice President, Meridian International (MINT) College.

– Strengthening education to foster innovation –

According to Morris, “there’s a general feeling not only in the Philippines but across Asia and the Pacific that the type of schooling that is required for the fourth industrial revolution is going to require people who are much more adaptable and innovative in their thinking and leadership.”

“Our schooling systems need to be able to adapt to this, and that’s a great challenge for governments,” Morris stressed.

He said that governments need to look carefully if they’re investing enough in the right kind of education to respond to disruptively changing market requirements.

Kiamzon, who founded MINT College, suggested that the government should keep up to speed with the changes that are happening and recommended collaborating with the private sector to update its curriculum.

To foster innovation, he said that MINT, for instance, encourages students to try and take risks.

“Before, the senior model was to write out your thesis; at MINT, students conceptualize, plan and implement their own projects… The modern school of today is really an adjunct of the private sector,” Kiamzon said.

Director Perlada also talked about the government’s response with the launch of public-private partnership like QBO (“kubo”) which aims to support startups by providing them with opportunities to network, capital and mentorship.

– Providing spaces, mentorship and networking –

Alexis Lingad of Cryptors Cybersecurity was batch one winner of the “Space for Ingenious Program,” which was launched by KMC in partnership with Impact Hub Manila. The program aims to provide startups mentorship from industry experts, a conducive work space, and access to a vast network of connections and potential investors.

Lingad, a former hacker himself, developed, Hackuna, a mobile app that protects users from hackers while accessing public wifi. Through the program, Lingad was given access to a conducive workspace, coaching and mentorship.

Another startup that benefitted from the program is Pushkart PH, an online grocery application. Its founder Josh Aragon says that these incubators help them grow by giving them mentors and introducing them to investors who helped them fund their growth through various networking events.

According to Riccardo Corsini, KMC Vice President for marketing, they recognize that the office space is not just another place to work from anymore. The modern professional requires more than that. There’s an element of continuous growth, networking, and making your working life not feel like work. “Things are changing for everyone so where you work from and how you work is really important.”

– Philippine startups’ rapid growth –

According to the 2017 Philippine Startup Survey, there are now more than 300 startups in the country, most of which were founded between 2012 and 2017.

“Many startups have ventured into mobile, e-commerce, and fintech. This is proof that Philippines’ startup ecosystem is growing rapidly with more and more young professionals starting their own ventures,” said Corsini.