Your Guide to the Philippines Startup Communityby StartupDigest on August 4, 2010
The following is the first edition of StartupDigest‘s new weekly guides to the top startup communities around the world. This edition features an interview with Terence Pua (@terencepua), Curator for the Philippines StartupDigest and co-founder of Insync.
How long have you been living in the Philippines?
Almost 7 years now. Moved from Silicon Valley post dotcom bust and haven’t looked back.
Why should a startup thinking about moving to a new place choose to work in your city?
If you are bootstrapped or have very little money, it’s cheap to start a startup here. We also have amazing beaches, cheap beer and great (but hard-to-find) coders. Downsides are it’s hard to “get out of the building” if you want to talk to potential customers, unless you are doing a SMS-related startup. Since startups are so new to the Philippines, the first ones to hit it big will be local and regional heroes.
What are examples of past successful startups that were started here?
Morphlabs is one that’s on its way. They are a PaaS startup and recently raised $5.5M in Series B.
What are the current local startups that more people should know about now?
Piclyf is interesting, a kind of DaillyBooth meets Picnik.
Inovent is very cool – they are building ilumina, a Google TV for (initially) domestic consumers. They will be the Philippines’ first local consumer electronics company and starting quite ambitiously.
And of course, tooting our own horn, there’s Insync (Dropbox for Gmail/Google Apps) and we are taking on Sharepoint and Box.net.
Who is one example of a great investor or organization supporting the startup scene here?
Lucky for us and future startuppers, a new fund just opened called phiLabs. They can do YCombinator-like or VC-like seed/Series A funding. They are new and learning and open to hear pitches even if you don’t know anyone. They look at mainly the people and ideas. Disclosure: phiLabs has seed funded Insync. If you need an introduction, ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the best reoccurring startup events in your city?
If a founder was going to move to your city tomorrow, who are the first 5 people you would recommend them to meet?
Jay Fajardo, co-founder of Proudcloud because he knows a lot of peeps. phiLabs folks because they can give you product feedback and seed funding. Dean Michael Berris because he is technical and can introduce you to technical minds. Insync Team because it’s hard to find a cohesive product-focused startup team taking on Sharepoint and Box.net. A drinking buddy because you are going to need it!
If you could wave a magic wand and change one specific part about your startup community, what would it be?
Money is a huge issue but the really good entrepreneurs find a way. So I would say that young people becoming entrepreneurs to increase the baseline is what I would do. Culturally, you are taught to go to college, get good grades and go work for a big company, especially a US-based one with a PH presence so you have a chance to go to the states. The reason: most of these young kids are supporting their parents so they are left with no choice but get a decent paying relatively stable job. I take that back. I would do a YCombinator program that lasts for 1 year and pay founders above market rates and provide mentorship. That way, they won’t have to worry about supporting their mom/dad and still have a long enough runway to see if their startup can succeed. If they fail, the selectivity (and referrals) of the program would probably get them a job in any company in PH.
Anything else you want to add or is there anything else that makes your startup community unique?
Don’t do a consumer startup here. Most consumer startups need eyeballs to monetize and that means big cash and a long runway. It’s near impossible to do that here. I can’t think of a successful consumer focused startup that hasn’t raised big institutional money and succeeded. On the other hand, SaaS is bootstrappable and can grow slowly. I’m actually surprised PH startups haven’t done more SaaS. Besides ourselves, I actually can’t think of another one.