By Edd K. Usman
PLDT-backed incubator IdeaSpace Foundation has opened its fifth National Startup Competition in 2017, with each of 15 to be selected receiving over P1 million in cash and in-kind prizes.
Diane Eustaquio, executive director at IdeaSpace, announced this in a recent press conference at the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) in Pasay City.
In an interview, Eustaquio said Ideaspace will be stricter in screening startup applicants for the next edition, saying they are looking for those who are ready and committed to spend their life in bringing technology and innovation for the benefit of the country.
“We are looking for strong teams in 2017. The theme for 2017 is the ‘Blue Flame Founders,’ founders who really understand the market,” she said.
Eustaquio assured that Ideaspace will continue to support the finalists who make it all the way, stressing they will be strict this time in fund releases. Even after a startup has exited the program, she said IdeaSpace will still help in promoting its services or selling its products.
“To create more impact to the Philippines, we need more startups. That is our contribution to Filipino innovation,” she said.
She said the winners stand to receive P500,000 in cash to be given in tranches, and separate amount for support in housing, transportation, incorporation, office space, communication, software, a series of training and classes, including mentoring from executives of companies under First Pacific, with a total value of over P1 million.
The best part of the prize is that is it equity-free, meaning that IdeaSpace will not have a stake in the early-stage startups.
In 2016, the technology incubator and accelerator had 10 startup winners, but only seven eventually graduated, with the graduation ceremonies held also at PTTC on Dec. 6. The 2016 startup graduates are Cleaning Lady, Cropital, E.A.R.S. by Innovable, Investagrams, InvestEd, Tarkie, and Taxumo.
The IdeaSpace executive said applicants may submit their startup ideas only until Jan.12 next year at www.apply.ideaspacefoundation.org.
“We’ve seen very inspiring stories of startup founders joining IdeaSpace over the years, from husband-and-wife tandems to students looking to make their own mark in the world,” said Eustaquio.
“This year, we’re looking to expand our support to more startup founders with burning passion to start up their own business and help the country progress with the help of technology and innovation.”
Aside from PLDT, IdeaSpace is backed by First Pacific, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), MPIC hospital group, Meralco, Smart Communications, Maynilad, Voyager Innovations, and PayMaya.
Meanwhile, IdeaSpace also launched this year its Intrapreneur Accelerator Program (IAP) aimed at furthering the idea of innovation into the corporate space under First Pacific.
“We’ve realized over the years that startups need as much as support as they can get in every step of the process, from bringing their ideas to life to launching them into the market, and even to making their startups grow,” said Eustaquio.
IdeaSpace started in 2012 and has since then incubated and funded 52 startups, with some of them evolving to full-pledge business enterprises, including startups Pinoy Travel and TimeFree Innovations.
Au Mendoza-Soriano, co-founder and CEO and Pinoy Travel, a transportation booking enterprise, cited the importance of being under the wings of the foundation.
“The biggest advantage of being part of IdeaSpace is it made me look bigger that what I actually was at the beginning,” she pointed out, adding newer startups have the advantage of learning from their predecessors.
Chino Atilano, co-founder of virtual queuing solutions company TimeFree Innovations, said IdeaSpace provided them the knowledge about nurturing and managing a business.
Having no formal education or formal background in business, he said it was very hard for them to transform from a technical person to one who could understand business.