The Philippine setup is on a start-up sweet spot as of 2020. First, a huge chunk of the Philippines is in the middle class. This social class are known to have the hunger for growth, good appetite for risk and access to technology. Second, the Philippine government has launched plenty of support programs related to entrepreneurship; Kapatid Mentor Me Program, Small Medium Enterprise Roving Academy and P3 Program. These programs are mostly subsidized by the government ranging from technical support, management literacy and funding grants. Lastly, according to Statista.com, the Filipinos spend the most hours in social media, averaging at 4 hours per day. All these factors have made the start-up scene in the Philippines a true gold mine.
Over the years, startups in the Philippines have arrived to the point of rivaling international competitors. These local startups highlight Filipino values and household problems that have plagued them. The reasons for their creation is also very Filipino in value. This is one reason why they have managed to rise above foreign competition. Let’s look at a few them.
1) OLX| Retail: Online Selling Platform
Founders: RJ and Arianne David
OLX is a site that offers a free platform for people to post, buy and sell products—clothes, accessories, furniture, appliances and even condos and cars. OLX, previously sulit.ph, was founded in 2006. 2006 was not the same heaven for startups and OLX would have a big battle ahead of them. Despite strong competition in the online selling platform, banker Arianne David and freelance web developer RJ David braved entering the online selling platform only having their dreams, common problem to solve and the garage of RJ’s parents as their main tools. The founders’ core beliefs were very simple, decluttering homes and making selling secondhand items easier. With this, they refined OLX using customer feedback and online presence in different forums. OLX made sure to remove or adjust each feature of OLX based on their client’s usage. This served as a client-based adjustment system that would bring OLX to its success. Equipped with skills in SEO and web development, OLX would assure that they reach their target markets. As of 2018, OLX stands with over 8 million monthly users generating traffic of 481 million monthly page views.
2) Edukasyon.ph | Education
CEO: Henry Motte Munoz
In the Philippine setup, we often dream of various jobs we want to have in the future. Commonly, children cite policemen, doctor and teacher as their dream jobs. Over the course of time, experiences and exposure bring us to challenge the initial dreams that we have imagined. But with the bountiful educational choices available both known choices beyond the reach of our knowledge. Choosing advanced education is more than just a multiple choice especially when it will hold dearly to one’s success in the future. How can we better equip ourselves for this monumental choice?
Enter, Filipino-French civic leader Henry Motte Munoz, the founder of Edukasyon.ph. Edukasyon.ph’s story began in 2015 when he set out to build a one-stop platform that offers students choice, advice and convenience as they make their higher education and career decisions.
In the summer of 2012, Henry’s cousin was applying for college. “I remember asking him ‘So how are you applying to college? What’s the process?’ and it was very shocking to see how disorganized it was,” Henry recalled. His cousin responded with confusion and uncertainty; he didn’t know what he could study in the universities he planned to go to and he didn’t know what job opportunities he has after. The awareness in the application process wasn’t the hindrance, it was the existence of scholarships that could mean the difference for them in terms of being able to afford the school they wanted to enter or not.
Edukasyon.ph’s mission is simple; “Information -It’s not always everywhere and it’s also sometimes not very well presented. That’s what we’re working on,” Henry said. To date, Edukasyon.ph has helped 500,000+ students and attracted hundreds of schools, as well as dozens of corporations, government offices & foundations to join their advocacy.
3) Kalibrr |Human Resource: Recruitment
CEO: Paul Rivera
Paul has a very clear headache in his career as a recruiter in the business process outsourcing arena, screening applicants. It was hard to find great people and it was also discouraging to see great people, many of whom were college graduates, who didn’t know how to find jobs that they were fit for,” says Paul. Kalibrr wanted to match the positions required expertise with the skills of the applicants. “Since we’re doing matching, the value that we provide for employers is to automatically identify the best people who are applying for their jobs. This is so they spend their time recruiting the most qualified people first,” says Paul. This approach is very different from their competitors which focus on the search for job availabilities versus theirs which facilitates the search for the best matches.
Paul grew up in America and initially, didn’t want to go back to the Philippines. “Most Filipinos who grew up in America, don’t want to go back to the Philippines, but I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was trying to do that in Silicon Valley but I didn’t have a good idea and the ones I tested failed” Paul shares. After only 7 months at Google, he went back to the Philippines to seek opportunity.
4) Investagrams |Finance: Stock Trading
CEO: JC Bisnar
JC Bisnar is CEO and one of the co-founders of Investagrams. He ventured early into stock trading. He learned trading the hard way with research and mistakes as his primary teachers. This was one of the core foundations of his startup, Investagrams. Newbie traders had nowhere to go for quick and consolidated access to stock trading material.
Studying trading is a daunting experience. With the various needs of a stock investor in terms of knowledge and support, this is where Investagrams perfectly fits the puzzle. With the primary mission to provide education and tools needed in making investing easier to the average Filipino, today 50,000 users, averaging 2,000,000 views per month, Investagrams has rendered itself as the fastest growing website and app covering the stock market in the Philippines. Investagrams seeks to commit to investors’ support in monitoring long run trading progress and guiding them in their stock market journey. The end-goal for Investagrams is to trigger the growth of the number of Filipinos investing, at least up to 5% of the populace.
Before JC’s entrance into the entrepreneurial lifestyle, he first learned trading, beginning with an internship in his college years. JC was a newbie in stock trading. He had zero knowledge. But time eventually provided him with a learning experience and a startup with a strong following.
CEO – Angeline Tham
Motorcycles are one of the easiest modes of transports to learn. It is cheap and abundant. Combined with the challenges of commute, the need for quick travel and technology, this gave birth to the motorcycle hailing app, Angkas. Although Angkas’ CEO, Angeline is Singaporean, the birth of this startup was because of the Filipinos plight in commuting. Angeline herself experienced the Filipino traffic jam struggle as she got late for several meetings after spending six hours in traffic. A true Filipino is aware of Metro Manila’s struggle in traffic and Angeline just got a very big stamp.
Angkas is a very affordable starting P50. In comparison to a car, it has less travel time in reaching destinations due to its ability to maneuver through heavy traffic jams. It has made a reputation for its fast and reliable service. It has over 20,000 riders. The huge support and demand for this product were reflected when in November 2017, when the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board suspended Angkas’ operation. This led to a huge uproar from the Filipino masses that started protests everywhere. With the delay in government reform in public transport and seemingly insufficient road development, Angkas has paved a way for commuters to manage Metro Manila Traffic.
It soon plans to expand beyond Manila, Cebu, General Santos and Cagayan de Oro. Its efficiency and affordability, two characteristics that Filipinos love, quickly spread. “I think because of technology they are able to make lives more convenient for people and enable them to ride from one place to another. With technology, they are able to make it more efficient and people have embraced this technology to bring them to the places they want to go and I think the Philippines is one of the countries that have adopted it on a very strong basis,” she said.
Tham said, according to the recent statistics of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), there are about 5 million motorcycles registered nationwide, while there are only 1.5 million cars registered nationwide, of which 50 percent are crowded in Metro Manila. As further proof of its success, Angkas also now caters to product deliveries.