PANGLAO, Bohol — In spite of reports that there is an ongoing “funding winter” wherein investors are apparently withholding their money to fund startups, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary Ivan John Uy said local startup ecosystem is rapidly expanding.
Uy made the statement during the opening of the two-day “Geeks On A Beach” (GOAB) 2023 international conference, which runs Nov. 23-24 at the Bellevue Resort here.
“It is truly an honor to stand before you as we kick off the sixth edition of Geeks on a Beach. As we gather here, it is heartening to see that through our joint efforts, we have transformed the Philippines into a pivotal regional hub for startups and digital innovation. This is a statement of fact. Our vibrant startup ecosystem has been vibrantly growing,” Yu said.
The startup conference, organized jointly by the DICT together with the startup group GeeksPH, drew nearly 1000 attendees composed of technopreneurs, investors, and startup hustlers, venture capitalists, angel investors. First staged in 2013, it was revived this after a pandemic-induced hiatus of five years.
According to Uy, said the GOAB lies in the convergence of diverse minds and will serve as a perfect backdrop for groundbreaking ideas to take flight.
He said the Philippines is host to more than 1,100 startups, 60 incubators and accelerators, 50 venture capitalists, and more than 200 co-working spaces who now actively collaborating.
Uy said the DICT is determined to accelerate the digital transformation and nurture the growth of the country’s startup community by launching programs aligned with the Innovative Startup Act of 2019.
“This law provides the blueprint for the advancement of the Philippine Startup Ecosystem and supports our startups by providing funding and mentorship mechanisms and streamlined processes,” Uy noted.
The conduct of the GOAB in time for this year’s Philippine Startup Week shows the limitless potential inherent in Filipino technopreneurs, he said.
The DICT chief said the government is preparing the stage for local startups since the Philippines is expected to post the biggest GDP growth next year despite the dearth of funding this year.
Right after the DICT secretary’s keynote was a panel discussion with some of the startup founders in the country: Roland Ros of streaming app Kumu, ER Rollan of grocery supplier GrowSari and Steve Sy of shopping platform Great Deals Ecommerce.
The three founders were one in saying that the biggest challenge in the startup industry is understanding the challenges and the type of mindset starting a company and building a startup.
Ros said sacrificing everything is worth it in making a difference for the country even as he aims to grow his startup into a unicorn and become a sustainable business.
Rollan, meanwhile, noted that it is crucial in understanding the intricacies in establishing a company, and that founders should be prepared to be at the last financial beneficiary of the business. “That is the toughest part of a startup,” he added.
For his part, Sy of Great Deals E-Commerce said that for every challenge there is an opportunity. Noting that e-commerce is fast-paced, he said the challenge is to adapt to latest e-commerce trends and technologies.