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Great business ideas find a home in Makati

Ten Filipino startups, mostly run by ‘millennials’ who offer innovative ideas to transform businesses, have won the support of the country’s largest business incubator and accelerator based in Makati City.

IdeaSpace Foundation Inc. executive director Diane Eustaquio says the ten startups will join the acceleration program this year and receive equity-free funding and mentorship.  This means that IdeaSpace and the companies behind the organization will not take away equity from the startups, allowing the founders to take full ownership of their ideas and  businesses.  The same model is being employed by Google for its Launchpad Accelerator program.

IdeaSpace has an office at Colbella Arcade along A. Arnaiz Avenue in Makati.  Qualified startups receive extensive training such as lectures on entrepreneurship at Asian Institute of Management.

IdeaSpace Foundation Inc. presents 10 new startups as part of its 2016 cohort that will join the acceleration phase. Shown are (from left) startup founders Andrew Cua (Tralulu), Rio Ilao (Tarkie), Ruel Amparo (Cropital), Oskie King (Cleaning Lady) and JC Bisnar (Investagrams) and IdeaSpace executive director Diane Eustaquio.
The ten groups, selected from nearly 600 applicants from all over the country, will receive P500,000 in equity-free funding, on top of non-cash benefits such as housing, transportation, incorporation, office space, communication, software support, trainings and mentoring from executives of companies under the First Pacific Group led in the Philippines by Manuel Pangilinan.

“It takes a big community to help startups.  So we work with government, we work with other organizations. Anyone who really wants to help startups, we bring them together.  We really work on helping them from idea to product stage.  This is the type of service that we provide startups.  We link them to industry partners and provide the market runway for them.  We mentor them.  We provide seed funding for product development and customer development,” Eustaquio says in a news briefing.

“If they are ready for incorporation, or they have been incorporated already, we pay for things like intellectual property incorporation, trademarks. We provide the market space.  We provide them resources for office space.  We also have housing support for teams that are not from the NCR,” she says.

She says the program received hundreds of applications.  “This year, we are very happy to say that our advocacy efforts have probably enlightened many regions, so we had applications from every region.

The concentration is still from Metro Manila, but the great thing is that every region was represented.  Hopefully, next year there will be more participation from the regions,” she says.

Eustaquio says the selection of the finalists was a four-stage process. “We started off with close to 600 applications, then on the first round, we filtered them down to top 100, and then we filtered to the top 50 and then we went through further filtration and we selected 20 teams.  This year, 20 teams made it.  After round three, there was a boot camp and six-week program, where we further tested their ability to execute and understand the customers. So the teams that made it and were right for it presented to our board and 10 were selected on Friday [July 15]. I would like to present to you our cohort for 2016,” she says.

The 10 new IdeaSpace startups for 2016 are:

• Populi-an analytics platform that utilizes big data for politicians to visualize public pulse in real time by aggregating social media and news engagements  online;

• Investagrams-a website and app that provide education, analytic tools and information on stock market from start-to-profits;

• Cleaning Lady-a mobile app that lets a user specify his/her cleaning services needs, hire a cleaner, book a schedule, get an upfront service quote and get the cleaning done;

• InvestED-a microfinancing platform for student loans;

• Banyera-an  online marketplace for wholesale farmed fish products;

• Tarkie-a field employee tracking and productivity tool;

• Taxumo-a mobile and web app that helps SMEs, professionals, freelancers and corporations with their taxes;

• Ears-a wearable device for the deaf/hearing-impaired and early warning, detection, reaction device that protects users while outdoors from accidents/collisions/threats;

• Tralulu-a digital platform that connects travelers and local guides by allowing travelers to book guides and customize their itineraries with them; and

• Cropital-a crowdfunding platform that connects anyone to help finance farmers.

“They’re a testament to how the Philippine startup ecosystem is maturing, where founders now see a  clearer path from their ideas to executing them in the real world and bringing their products to customers. We are glad to support Filipino startup entrepreneurs as they begin to make a  dent in helping the growth of the Philippines,” says Eustaquio.

The ten startups came from a pool of 20 finalists that were whittled down to 15 on finals night. Prior to making it to the acceleration phase of the program,  the startup finalists underwent six weeks of incubation where they validated their initial startup ideas, learned the ropes of establishing and running a business and developed prototypes for  their startups, on top of receiving P50,000 initial grant.

Eustaquio says the 2016 batch is one of the most diverse groups of startups  yet, with startups coming from various backgrounds and business maturity levels. A number of  startup teams came from the corporate world to pursue their ideas, while one of them has been nurturing their startup idea ever since they were in college. 

Several are already in the “revenue” stage, which means they are already earning money from their startups.

Three of the teams are led by founders who are also relatives. Majority of the founders are from Metro Manila, while only one startup came from Iloilo.

Most of them also belong to the “millennial” age group with an average age of 26, according to IdeaSpace.

IdeaSpace also introduced the Intrapreneur Acceleration Program this year, which allowed internal product development teams from companies in the First Pacific group to pitch their ideas and undergo the rigors of incubation and acceleration under IdeaSpace. 

Four teams from Voyager, PayMaya, Meralco, and Maynilad made it to the inaugural IAP  this year, receiving the same seed fund, training, mentorship, and other non-cash benefits  that IdeaSpace startups have enjoyed in the past.

Eustaquio says the decision to change the structure to equity-free funding this year contributed to the diversity of the startups.

“We’ve attracted really high-value startups this year, some of which already have operational products and business models. This helps fulfill our role in enabling early-stage startup ideas and feeding them to the ecosystem later on, where they can get more funding” she says.

The ten new startups will join IdeaSpace’s growing portfolio of 38 startups over the last four years as part of its half a billion-peso funding that was instituted  in 2012.

Eustaquio says these startups have already generated 200 jobs since 2013, when the incubation program was introduced in the Philippines. Roderick T. dela Cruz

Topics: Great business ideas , ideaspace
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