Cyberpress holds IT forum on how PH can create own Silicon Valley

Last week, the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines (ITJAP) or Cyberpress, invited IT industry experts and stakeholders to a forum and discuss what our IT start-ups and technopreneurs need to be the next Google or Facebook, and how we can create our own Silicon Valley.

Present at the event are the country’s top VC firms – Ideaspace Foundation, Kickstart Ventures, and Wireless Wings. Also present are local start-ups By Implication and HobbyMash sharing their own success stories.

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According to Marthyn Cuan, Meralco’s chief information officer (CIO) and Ideaspace co-founder, the key for the country would be to create an ecosystem that would make people interested in technology, to pursue ideas and create innovations that are unique.

Part of this ecosystem would be improving the education system especially in the area of science and technology, and making it easier to do business in the country.

Making the country’s business environment friendlier to start-ups would provide people, particularly students, alternative paths to success. “You don’t have to work in multi-national corporations to be successful and add value to the country. We want to give Filipinos an alternative, and this should not be exclusive to those that come from landed families and can afford expensive educations,” Cuan said.

Minette Navarette, president of angel capital firm Kickstart Ventures, said the goal should be to build the “infrastructure” of venture capitalists, mentors, and facilities that can ensure that ideas are turned into commercially-viable products in the shortest amount of time.

“Start-ups should be given a chance to talk to people that have been on that road before. People that have succeeded in this area. They can help expose a start-up founder to the way a big company thinks. And we should also get big companies to start vouching for entrepreneurs so that they can get bank loans ,” Navarette said.

She said start-up founders should stop being afraid of failing. “In Asia, failing is often seen as a shameful thing. But in the world of start-ups, if you haven’t failed yet, it means you haven’t done enough,” she said.

For her part, Myla Villanueva of Novare Technologies underscored the importance of government and media helping recognize and publicize success stories in the industry that can help inspire young people to take bigger risks in search of bigger rewards.

“People like Steve Jobs. His story is really celebrated. He is an inspiration for young techies and it’s important that other stories are celebrated by the media,” she said.

Founders of Hobbymash Pte. Ltd., which won the JFDI Bootcamp prize at Startup Weekend Manila last October, shared that their decision to drop their day jobs and focus on building their business changed their lives forever.

“We quit our jobs and moved to Singapore,” Hobbymash co-founder Joshua Liao said. His co-founder Liezl Buenaventura said, “we learned more during our 90 days in Singapore than we could have imagined.”

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Hobbymash is now building a new Internet application called Familyko—a video-call service similar to Skype, but adds interactive components such as games. This will target overseas Filipino workers that want to do more than just talk with their loved ones in the Philippines.

Levi Ong, co-founder of video game design company By Implication emphasized the need to maintain a start-up’s corporate culture in order to protect the company’s reputation.

“If you take on a project that you don’t feel confident about and you know you won’t be proud off, it’s your company’s name on the line. And when you’re starting out, your company’s reputation and talent is really all that you have,” Ong said.


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