Silicon Valley investors, tech experts in PH to seek out local start-ups

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By Chloe Cabrera

Over 30 Silicon Valley executives arrived in the country this week in an effort to boost the country?s start-up ecosystem and seek out local investment opportunities as part of the worldwide Geeks on a Plane (GOAP) tour, marking GOAP?s first-ever visit to Philippine soil.

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Organized by global start-up accelerator and venture capital fund 500 Startups, the GOAP tour invites a group of Silicon Valley ?geeks? ? including investors, venture capitalists, start-up founders, and technopreneurs ? to hop on a plane and survey high-growth technology markets worldwide.

Since it began operations in 2009, GOAP has already mobilized technology ecosystems in 27 countries and involved over 15,000 stakeholders.

The tour?s organizers are now looking to learn more about the young-but-promising Philippine start-up ecosystem and connect with its stakeholders.

?The Philippines is a country full of smart and creative people ? it?s a perfect place for entrepreneurship to flourish and grow,? said 500 Startups founding partner Dave McClure during the GOAP press conference Thursday, July 24.

?The country needs exposure to these ?geeks?,? he added, explaining how local awareness and angel investors can help fund small start-ups when larger companies aren?t willing to risk investing in them.

GOAP?s Manila tour runs from July 23-26 and is being hosted by Smart Communications, alongside local technology incubator IdeaSpace Foundation, Voyager Innovations, Smart Developer Network, and Smart Bro.

The three-day-visit will allow GOAP participants to examine the local start-up market and meet its stakeholders firsthand through a series of events including Startup Grind, Angelhack Manila, and a Tech Summit at the Asian Institute of Management.

Homegrown start-ups will also have the chance to network and gain insights from the Silicon Valley ?geeks? during the GOAP participants? company visits.

GOAP is currently raising a $100-million flagship fund, mostly from corporate individuals and venture capitalists, to possibly invest in promising start-ups around the world.

According to McClure, even a simple $20,000 – $50,000 investment fund for each small start-up will go a long way in helping them develop further.

?First and foremost, we want to find really passionate entrepreneurs who are ready to follow through on creating big businesses,? said Khailee Ng, Venture Partner at 500 Startups.

?We?re looking for businesses that use Internet, mobile, and digital technology to be able to grow very quickly in a short amount of time.?

500 Startups founding partner Dave McClure
500 Startups founding partner Dave McClure

GOAP also aims to bring in more interested venture capitalists to the start-up economy and change the investor culture that is not used to the higher risk factor of start-up investment.

McClure stressed during the conference that the main challenge start-ups face nowadays is proving to investors they?re worth funding despite the risks.

Manila will serve as the last stop for GOAP?s Southeast Asian tour, which included visits to Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia.

While this year?s destination line-up originally did not include the Philippines, Ng said that it was the support from local sponsors and organizers like IdeaSpace that convinced GOAP to add Manila to their tour.

According to Ng, 500 Startups is no stranger to Philippine start-ups, having already invested in local ventures PayrollHero, Twitmusic, and ZipMatch. However, by bringing GOAP to the country, he says ?we want to get the whole world connected to the Philippines.?

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