Philippine News

Brand & Business: Shaping the future: 14 Filipino startups showcase innovations in IdeaSpace’s Cohort 9 Demo Day

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Fourteen of the Philippines’ most promising startups were showcased for this year’s IdeaSpace Accelerator Program Demo Day with the theme, “The Future, Our Way,” featuring innovative technology solutions for a diverse range of industries such as healthcare, finance, environmental sustainability, human resources, fitness, real estate, education, e-commerce, and more.

The Demo Day marked the culmination of the ninth cohort of IdeaSpace’s flagship Accelerator Program, which was created for Filipino startup founders looking to refine and scale their business ventures. The six-month program helps startups strengthen their team and culture, business model, product or service, and financial fundamentals, through learning sessions and mentoring; and connect with a community of founders, partners, and investors. Participating startups also receive cash grants as well as a potential opportunity for investment.

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Underscoring the role of PH Startups

Katrina Rausa Chan, executive director of IdeaSpace, emphasized the need to put Filipino founders in the driver’s seat, highlighting their ability to shape the future through innovation, and to positively impact individuals, communities and businesses.

“Our ninth cohort demonstrates the exceptional capabilities and resilience of Filipino founders, who are building digital tools and services making life easier and better for more people, especially in the face of this unprecedented global crisis. At IdeaSpace, we believe that startups play an important role in defining the future of our economy and nation, and we continue to be committed to helping them achieve their full potential.” Chan said.

During the six months spent in the Accelerator Program, the startups of Cohort 9 collectively raised Php 46.1 Million Pesos, achieved 650% revenue growth amounting to a total of Php 11.7 Million Pesos, and opened up 86 job opportunities and counting.

“Already, this cohort is attracting a lot of interest from local and regional investors and impact partners, which I see as part of a larger trend that saw the Philippine startup ecosystem achieve record numbers in 2021. The disruption brought about by the pandemic actually presented an opportunity for startups to show what they can do, and we’re excited to build on this momentum,” Chan added.

Changing the game

Out of over 150 applications, 14 startups stood out and were chosen to form Cohort 9 of the IdeaSpace Accelerator Program. These startups were coached and mentored by the IdeaSpace team, established technopreneurs from the Philippine startup ecosystem, representatives from major industry partners, and some of the program’s alumni founders throughout their six months in the program.

“After going through all of those mentorships and workshops, we realized that we’re actually not targeting the right people,” shared Bo Discarga, CEO of Betterteem, a unified all-in-one employee experience software platform that offers employee experience analytics, simplified employee rewards and recognition, and on-demand mental health support. “The CEO interaction, that small circle within the cohort really helped us out. The program is certainly one for the books.”

“Through the accelerator programs, we were able to overcome the challenges with identifying and defining our initial target segment of the market,” Jeffrey Reyes, CEO of Twala, a blockchain technology powered document management and digital signature platform for drafting, signing, verifying, and storing digital contracts and documents with individual digital certificates and self-sovereign digital IDs.

“We expected exposure, and some support in terms of financing and mentorship, but what we didn’t expect was a tight-knit community that we became a part of,” said Jaime Siy, CEO of Instahomes.

During Demo Day, the startups got to present their innovative solutions to the IdeaSpace network of investors, trustees, and media partners. These startups will also get a chance to pitch to IdeaSpace’s Investment Committee to secure equity funding.

“The program is really for Filipino startups, so regardless of where you are in your startup journey, IdeaSpace is here to offer our guidance and support,” said Alwyn Rosel, head of startup development program at IdeaSpace.

Pushing for a more inclusive startup ecosystem

This year’s batch is also one of the most diverse to date, with 6 of the 14 startups based outside Metro Manila, specifically in Visayas and Mindanao. Moreover, half of the teams have female founders.

Among the female founders of the ninth cohort are Uma Roa, CEO of Pic-A-Talk, an augmentative and alternative communication tool for children with complex communication needs. The tool uses images to helpusers easily identify words through visuals, emulating a natural conversation to create a learning experience for the user; Ana Mich Kesner, COO of Oh My Genie, a fast, AI-enabled last-mile fulfillment solution that’s making it possible for businesses to get their products to customers through same-day delivery, in as fast as 30 minutes.

“Pic-A-Talk was inspired my non-verbal autistic sister who would communicate with us by using Google to search for images of the food that she wants to buy. Our team aims to share this innovation with other kids like my sister and give them a voice to be heard and understood. As someone who’s been wanting to join the program before, but couldn’t because it’s held in Manila, it’s one of the proudest moments of my life,” said Roa who is from Iligan City. “Now that it’s being opened to everyone, including us here in Visayas and Mindanao, we’re very thankful and happy.”

“In Visayas and Mindanao, if we’re lucky, we get online orders in 5 to 7 business days. Sometimes, the wait is up to 14 days or even more. As such, retailers lose out on Php 875 Billion pesos each year because of abandoned carts and canceled orders. This is because 70% of online buyers expect free and fast shipping. Our vision is to create 30-minute cities where people can get what they need and want in 30 minutes or less by building smart supply chains. This way, cities can become self- sufficient—not only will the products and services be easily accessible to customers, but they can even be produced and sourced hyper-locally,” added Kesner.

The remote set-up has given more startups the opportunity to join the program which this year, was held entirely online.

“With more teams joining from beyond Manila, and many women-founded companies making the cut as well, it’s clear that we are at a very thrilling stage in the expansion of the local startup ecosystem,” added Rosel.

“Being a Mindanaoan, particularly a Cagayanon, it’s really a pride to represent your city and be part of the IdeaSpace program.” Richard Ebdalin, CEO of Dirt Bag, an online laundry founded in Mindanao that can be booked in just one swipe through its mobile app. Dirt Bag has seen an increase of 222% in sales from 2020 and has grown its clients by 26% month-on-month.

Among the other startups representing Visayas and Mindanao are Peddlr from Samar, which offers a free smart point-of-sale (POS) app that helps Philippine sari- sari stores earn more and manage their businesses better at the same time through an inventory management system that automatically reorders their products with low stocks, utilizes data from users’ store performance to grant credit approval for inventory/capital expense financing and buy-now-pay-later plans for inventory purchases. Peddlr has raised over Php 25 Million in capital in its last fundraising round.

“The online program gave us an advantage, because wherever we are, we’re still able to join a program like IdeaSpace. If it were face-to-face, it would have been impossible for us,” Orly Palompon, CEO of Cebu-based, Xalmeds, a health inclusion online pharmacy that makes maintenance medication affordable and accessible for the financially and mobility challenged population through a plant-to-patient online platform offering maintenance medicines subscription and on-demand delivery of affordable medicines.

“Building a startup in the midst of the pandemic is something none of us had experienced before, but as we know, being able to adapt and pivot quickly in the face of challenges are the keys to startup success. The startups really outdid themselves and we are excited for how all of them will turn out after today,” Rosel added.

If you wish to invest in the Philippines’ fastest growing startups, or participate in the next IdeaSpace Accelerator Program, visit the IdeaSpace website or check out @ideaspaceph on Facebook

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