By Edd K. Usman
For its fourth edition, the international technology and startup conference, dubbed ?Geeks on a Beach (GOAB)?, will be going to the idyllic island of Panglao in Bohol province.
The event, which will be held on August 25-26, will have the theme “Empowering Startups, Leading Change? as the conference puts emphasis on startup communities or enterprises driven by innovation through software or applications. The previous versions of the conference have been held in Cebu and Boracay.
As in the past years, the confab is organized by non-profit group TechTalk.ph, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT Office) — now the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) — and the PLDT Group (PLDT SME Nation, Ideaspace, SmartDevNet, PLDT Innolab, and Smart Communications).
Tina Amper of TechTalks.ph said during a press briefing at the New World Hotel in Makati City on Tuesday, June 21, that startups and investors from various countries are expected to attend the conference.
“All of us want to change the world and make the world a better place,” said Amper, a former US-based tech executive, noting that the local startup community has registered “remarkable growth in the last few years.”
Monchito Ibrahim, deputy executive director of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)?s ICT Office, said better days are coming up for the Philippine tech scene.
?The Philippine startup community is actually one of the sectors that lobbied for the creation of the DICT,” said Ibrahim. He said the industry is hopeful that the DICT will continue the work alongside various stakeholders to empower the country’s startup communities to speed up economic growth.
Ibrahim local startups have great potential for regional expansion after the Asean Economic Community (AEC) took effect last January 1, 2016.
“We are looking at startups taking the lead in strategically leveraging opportunities offered by a bigger regional market of 10 countries (comprising Asean) with some 617 million people and a combined GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of $2.1 trillion opened up by the ASEAN integration,” said Ibrahim.
He said GOAB can become a platform in transforming Philippine startups and opening doors to investors and capital from within the Asean region, along with investors from North America, European Union (EU), Japan, and others.
It can be recalled that in the last three editions of GOAB in 2013, 2014, and 2015, around 20 to 30 percent of investors came from outside the Philippines.
“We are very, very pleased to have been a part of this since Day One. We are looking forward for more of this. Supporting this event is our small way of trying to help the development of startups in the Philippines. I am hoping the next administration will also support this,” said Ibrahim.
“We are starting to develop a bigger pool of developers in the Philippines,” he noted.
In an interview with Newsbytes.PH, Amper noted that technology can no longer be separated from the lives of Filipinos.
“Everyone who uses Facebook, everyone who uses a cellphone, that is technology. So, we can’t run away from it. We might as well find out how we can use technology, not just for personal use, but for business as well,” she said.
Amper said anyone can actually propose an application that will solve a particular problem even if he or she is not a technology person.
“You can start attending these events so you can find technology partners who can build it for you. For those who don’t want to start a business, I encourage you to look online and see if there are products that can enhance your business, increase your sales, and help build your professional skills. There’s a lot of free tools online that you can use to educate yourself and, once you are ready, you can look for more sophisticated solutions,” said Amper.
Since technology is already part of our everyday lives, she urged everyone to “take advantage of it”.