Two weekends ago, I was able to attend the startup event “Slingshot Summit Cebu”, which is a government initiative for Startup and Innovation Ecosystem Development headed by the Department of Trade and Industry. Slingshot aims to spur economic growth by boosting innovative businesses and by giving enough space, support and place to Philippine innovators, startups, and entrepreneurs.
One of the reasons why I attended is to once again get myself updated with the Philippines’ startup scene, and listen to a diverse set of speakers sharing best and potential next practices. The startup scene in Cebu is still undergoing some “birthing pains” and I have witnessed and joined some of these activities through the years initiated by local companies and communities such as techtalks.ph’s meet-ups, trainings, startup weekends, and the like conferences.
It’s not about money
In a nutshell, the key messages of the speakers to the audience is to invest not just in the Philippine startups but on the whole ecosystem (education, R&D, talent, entrepreneurship, government services, financing). The audience was a mix of local startup founders, foreigners/expats, education sector, business sector, government, techies, and perhaps even angel investors.
One of the Keynote speakers, Filipino Tech Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist Diosdado “Dado” Banatao mentioned something along the lines of “sometimes all it takes is the belief that startups in the Philippines can succeed, but there is still plenty of hard work to be done.”
Mr. Banatao even highlighted the important role of the internet and broadband speed (studies conducted by ITU, Ericsson); confirming that increased broadband speed contributes significantly to economic growth. This includes the positive effects coming from process automation, increased productivity, job creation and better access to basic services such as education and health.
Through his network and philanthropic work, he has invested more than US$1 Million into the Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev) as well as building partnerships to invest in research facilities, computer centers, scholarships for children, education & mentorship for professors, entrepreneurs and startups in the Philippines.
Are you an Angel?
I believe you don’t have to be extremely wealthy to be an angel investor. Angel investors invest money in early stage or startup companies in exchange for equity ownership interest and eventually gain a return-on-investment or losses in some cases – but that’s not the whole picture.
Investing is more than just injecting funds into a business because money alone cannot solve all the problems of a startup. Knowledge and experience exchange as well as gaining connections from ‘Angels’ can make or break your business.
Investing is nation building
There are many ways to start investing in the Philippines. You can start small by helping that micro business your family or friend is starting. Stock or equities markets is another option, they are channels for local companies to raise money from the public so they can expand further.
Also, there is real estate investing: renting, buying and selling properties and real estate development naturally spur economic activities such as commerce or tourism.
For tech-startups, you are potentially investing in the next Facebook or Uber! We can talk about ROIs, making money work for you but at the end of the day, it’s also about helping each other — guiding a struggling business and entrepreneur to success, providing employment for the jobless, delighting clients and satisfied investors — in short, nobody gets left behind.
Originally Published in Philstar - The Freeman Newspaper last June 21, 2016.