The Philippines may not be known as a startup center in the ASEAN region, but it is starting to show signs of becoming more competitive. The country’s startup ecosystem has been growing with more new companies introducing new business models particularly in the areas of e-commerce, financial technology, and the monetization of online content and activities.

Here’s the list of this Beyond Virtual session’s panelists:

  • Katrina Rausa Chan, Executive Director, IdeaSpace Foundation Inc. (Moderator)
  • John Januszczak, President and Chief Executive Officer, UBX
  • Rexy Dorado, President and Co-Founder, Kumu
  • Carlo Delantar, Founding Partner, Core Capital

This Beyond Virtual session held on November 16 shows the exchange of ideas regarding the present and the future of the Philippine startup ecosystem. The panelists discuss the challenges companies have encountered and how they have overcome the difficulties.

The session also explores the relationship between capital and the kind of startups sprouting in the country. Likewise, the role of digitalization in innovation and startup success is tackled. Additionally, there are discussions on specific industries that stand out and how successful startups inspire others to innovate.

Notable takeaways from the panel discussions:

  • Up to half of startups in the Philippines may have to shut down or reduce their scale of operations because of the recent COVID-19 developments in the country.
  • However, close to half of startups in the Philippines are saying that they are introducing new products and services, and nearly a quarter are saying that they are seeing growth in spite of the pandemic.
  • Pre-pandemic, the Philippines was a laggard when it comes to digital transformation. The pandemic has been a driving force in pushing digital adoption particularly when it comes to payments and online commerce.
  • Digitalization efforts among startups have a positive and material impact on achieving truly inclusive prosperity.
  • The leading startups in the Philippines are in the so-called “iron triangle,” which consists of e-commerce, logistics, and FinTech. Panelists revealed that most of the companies in their portfolios belong to these categories.
  • There’s a consensus among the panelists that the startup boom in the Philippines has arrived as demonstrated by the record number of Series B’s in the country. Close to 15 Series B fundraises happened in 2021.
  • The pandemic has induced what one of the panelists call the decoupling of capital and location, wherein global investors are becoming comfortable with the idea of investing in places where they can’t personally see the people running the businesses they are investing in.
  • The Philippines is somewhat behind compared to its peers in ASEAN and other parts of the world when it comes to investing in startups and seeing a real boom. However, there have been marked improvements compared to years before. Investing in the country has become a lot more competitive with more foreign venture capitalists entering.
  • The rise of startups in the Philippines is not only because of investment funds pouring in as a result of capitalists looking for places where they can grow their money. There are two sides to the investment coin: one is the capital and the other is the quality of startups. The capital is entering the country not because investors do not have other options but because they found good investment options or high-quality startups to invest in.

“The ‘iron triangle’ really comprises of three pillars: logistics, e-commerce, and finance. When you create this formidable triangle, you create a tech ecosystem. The stronger these pillars are, then you pretty much thrive as an economy, a digital economy.” – Carlo Delantar

“In the Philippines, there remain many communities and even larger ecosystems that are still digitally and financially underserved. When you look at such a diverse and fragmented landscape, it actually means that there’s tremendous opportunity. Once you can crack that nut, any one of those communities or ecosystems could be the birthplace of a unicorn.” – John Januszczak

“A lot of the capital issues are of course always going to be present. There’s still challenges in every step, but you know it’s in a positive kind of momentum like it’s feeding into itself that the more we’re seeing some success stories, the more maturity there is also among the startups, the more demand there is for capital, and also the more investors are paying attention.” – Katrina Rausa Chan

“As the infrastructure matures, the local Filipino base is going to be able to access (more opportunities).”

“I think for us, where we are in particular is in this challenge of how do we build something when none of us have—like when only few people in the country have done this before.” – Rexy Dorado

Watch the panels across the week here. Click to check out the FULL virtual programs.

To access all our BEYOND Virtual prime content, register a FREE account now. You will receive an email confirmation and signup guideline before the online sessions.

BEYOND Expo on-site event will be held on December 2 to 4, 2021 at the Venetian Macao Convention and Exhibition Centre. See you there!

BEYOND Virtual kicks off on November 9th with ‘What’s Next?’ from global industry leaders & investors