MANILA — Winners from the Philippine Rice Bowl Startup Awards (PH RBSA) were revealed and lauded at A SPACE Philippines last July 15, 2016. Recognizing the personalities and companies that comprised the breakout startups that harnessed digital technology, some tongue-in-cheek trophies were also handed out to some of the guests.
The novel evening was off to a good start as hosts Micah Munoz and Drei Toledo bantered with each other and some finalists. Spotted among the guests were venture capitalists like Manny Ayala, Nix Nolledo; social media mavens like Nina Terol, Ros Juan, and Raffy Celestial; as well as innovators like Chow Paredes and John Dang of Zipmatch.
The sister of Oliver Segovia, Beverly Tan, Chris Schnabel, and Ezra Ferraz’s representative await the announcement of the Journalist of the Year Award at the PH Rice Bowl Startup Awards 2016
According to MyNEF Technical Director Lilyana Abdul Latiff, the Rice Bowl Awards began in Malaysia. “Last year, during the Asean summit in Kuala Lumpur, we told the team, ‘Let’s take this to another level,’” she said in her opening remarks. “Let’s take these awards that we used to (only) do in Malaysia to a regional level, simply because we are seeing a trend that a lot of young people, millennials especially, who are very brave and they were starting new businesses, with new ideas. We were inspired by the story of Grab, that started out in Malaysia and quickly moved from country to country and show(ed) that you know, you got to change.”
“Southeast Asia is not a single block – it’s not 'Asia' – it’s the Philippines, it has different needs. Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and if you can survive as a startup company in these different different environments of doing business. You’re quite likely to become a very global company.”
The Rice Bowl Awards was meant to highlight the best in Asian startups and the name is something that Southeast Asians can easily relate to. “We’re Asians, everybody knows the meaning of rice bowl. We eat rice everywhere. We know the meaning of rice. When we say 'Rice Bowl,' it usually means income. That’s what we are looking for,” Latiff said.
A fun way to announce the winners: Niña Terol and Geia Lopez of McCann reveal the winners of the Best Campaign of the Year by popping a balloon with their stilettos.
The Rice Bowl Awards also do things a little differently that the usual award-giving bodies. “What we do in Rice Bowl that is slightly different: No Pitching," shared Latiff. "Because we were seeing trends around different countries, you have to pitch the idea – and usually the guys who win are the guys who already have a good command of English, or a good command of presentation skills. But we were seeing a lot of ideas that were largely done by companies or organizations that had Asians, who were, you know, slightly shier, but they have good ideas and they have good people and they can run a business.”
Winners for the following categories were announced and awarded with --what else-- rice bowls.
Journalist of the Year- Oliver Segovia
Best Newcomer- Wifi Interactive Network
Best Professional Investor- Hatch Digital
Developer Hero- Jason Torres
Best Campaign of the Year- iVolunteer PH
Best Social Enterprise of the Year- Cropital
Startup Enabler of the Year- Endeavor PH
Best Social Media Influencer- Maria Ressa (Rappler)
Best Disruptor/Game Changer of the Year- Zalora
Startup of the Year- SkyEye Inc.
Founder of the Year- Gabby Dizon (Altitude Games)
Community partners, Troo and Community Backers like PLDT SME Nation, Nokia, Manila Recruitment, Talas and McCann expressed their own support to the startup ecosystem.
For the full list of finalists, please refer to aspacemanila.com/ricebowl2016. The Philippine winners will be possible contenders for the culminating ASEAN Rice Bowl Awards (aseanstartupawards.com) later this year, which will be hosted in Manila. Recognizing the pioneering spirit and entrepreneurial fortitude of all the PH RBSA finalists and winners, the laid-back evening continued with free-flowing food and drinks as people continued to network and engage each other in discussing possible projects in the future. Who knows, next year’s winner just might have started out as a germ of an idea from this event.