MANILA, PHILIPPINES — “It is evident that the Philippine startup ecosystem is poised for a promising future. The trajectory is clear, and the potential is immense,” said Ivan John Uy, Secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) at Geeks On A Beach (GOAB), a two-day conference that gathered the country’s leaders, innovators, and investors in the startup scene.
Organized by DICT and GeeksPH, the international conference made its comeback after its five-year hiatus at Panglao, Bohol last November 23-24, during Philippine Startup Week 2023.
Leveraging Philippine tourism and ICT Industry expertise, the event gathered hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and globally acclaimed startup ecosystem players to showcase the country’s startup achievements in both local and international scenes.
GOAB program hosts Dave Overton and Albert Padin engaged the crowd in an exciting exchange that brought forth fresh networking opportunities for startup founders and industry innovators.
With an agenda spanning two days, Geeks On A Beach offered various activities for its participants, featuring discussions on emerging technologies, pitching fests, business matchings, investors’ roundtables, exhibits from various stakeholders, and other networking activities for the participants.
Recognizing the potential of Filipino startups
Now backed with the support of the Philippine government, GOAB 2023 strengthens the DICT Startup Program under the Republic Act 11337 or the Innovative Startup Act (ISA) and highlights the years-long work of the Department for the Philippine startup ecosystem.
“The very essence of Geeks on a Beach lies in the convergence of diverse minds, and I am optimistic that this year’s event will be a testament to the limitless potential that emerges when such minds come together,” said Sec. Ivan. “Through our joint efforts, we have transformed the Philippines into a pivotal regional hub for startups and digital innovation.”
According to the DICT Secretary, the country’s startup ecosystem has been promisingly growing, with over 1,100 startups, 60 incubators and accelerators, 50 venture capitalists, and more than 200 coworking spaces that enable collaboration.
“It is evident that the Philippine startup ecosystem is poised for a promising future. The trajectory is clear, and the potential is immense,” Sec. Ivan added. “The future holds exciting opportunities for startups to drive transformative change in our society and economy.”
The conference delved into the Philippine Startup Ecosystem Landscape, examining its evolution through the past, present, and future. Seasoned startup founders and investors shared valuable insights on both investing in and initiating startups, while also exploring the profound impact of AI on the startup landscape, shaping its trajectory ahead.
Accelerating Filipino-led startups
The second day of the conference delved further into the startup community within the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region. Former GOAB attendees shared their key learnings that helped kickstart their successful startups, while venture capitalists shared essential data on how the startup economy can fulfill the demands of today’s society.
Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, Undersecretary for ICT Industry Development at DICT delivered the keynote for Day 2, where she discussed the Digital Startup Development and Acceleration Program.
The Digital Startup Development and Acceleration Program, or the DSDAP, is DICT’s main offering for startups. It aims to stimulate the growth of tech-based startups and local startup ecosystems through funding support, awareness building, knowledge sharing, and establishing partnerships with venture capitalists and government organizations. Overall, this aims to contribute to the growth of a more attractive Philippine economy by attracting more investors to the country.
“The DICT hopes to further widen and enrich this ecosystem by providing adequate support and opportunities for aspiring and established startups alike,” Atty. Jocelle shared. “We at the DICT hope to have sparked your interest in any of our mentioned projects and programs, and we hope for your continued support as we efficiently fulfill the department’s mandates and functions, in collaboration with all stakeholders.”
What’s next for Geeks on a Beach?
Dave Overton, Founder and CEO of Symph and one of the lead organizers of Geeks on a Beach explained that they wanted to continue creating an environment where everyone — from startup founders to investors to government officials — can come in beach shorts and flip-flops and have real conversations that will shape the future of the Philippines.
“We’re honored to have DICT come on board and organize this with us. Because (DICT’s) startup roadmap led to the birthing of all of these initiatives, which all started at Geeks on a Beach,” Dave said. “We’re still in the early years of the startup industry here. We’ve come so far, but let’s not let up, let’s keep going and let’s build more. we’ll keep having fun at the beach, but there is a meaningful purpose underneath it all.”