Unleash the warrior in you! That’s the challenge of IdeaSpace Foundation, the leading and longest running early-stage startup accelerator in the Philippines, as it launches its 2019 startup competition. Interested participants can now submit their entries at apply.ideaspacefoundation.org.

 

This year, IdeaSpace is bringing a bigger and bolder competition, with pivots to the program. Instead of only 10, 20 teams will be able to join the acceleration program. The prize structure was also elevated with the top 3 performing teams receiving PhP1 million equity funding to be announced at Demo Day.

 

The process includes selection and judging among all applicants (Completion of application form, submission of 2-minute video, team interview), Pre-acceleration (5-day bootcamp, setting milestones for 6 weeks), and the Acceleration programs for the Top 20 where they should show technology and market readiness. During the acceleration period, teams selected will receive PhP100,000 pesos equity-free operations funding + in-kind support worth more than P500K which includes mentoring, use of office space, and housing allowance for non-Metro Manila teams to name a few.

“After six years, there are now more incubators and accelerators and we are experiencing a more energized Philippine startup ecosystem. We are pivoting and making changes to the program to remain relevant and to address the wide gap that still exists” says Rene Meily, IdeaSpace President.

 

Building an Ecosystem with More Startups

 

A 2017 study commissioned by a consortium of startup incubators and accelerators in the Philippines shows, there are 547 startups founded in the country since 2014 and about 400 of them are reported active as of last year.

“This is a numbers game – more founders and more startups means more chances the Philippines has in producing the next startup that will shine in the global stage. This is why we are upping the number of teams from 10 to 20, this is our commitment to feed into the Philippine science and tech startup ecosystem” says Diane Eustaquio, executive director at IdeaSpace.

 

Since it started in 2012, IdeaSpace has funded 74 startups, deployed over P150M in cash and non-cash support to startups and the Philippine science and tech startup ecosystem.

 

 

Gia Santos of Valea Health shared how IdeaSpace has helped them change strategies in order to hit targets. Ghian Marucot of EcFulfill echoed the same statement, saying how IdeaSpace opened connections for their startup.

 

The Change on the Prize Structure

 

“Funding is an essential part of the support that we provide to the startups, and we want to ensure that they get not only the money but the knowledge on how to properly steward the resources entrusted to them, We do this by agreeing into milestones based on the state of their startup or idea and the funding is released to the teams in tranches as they achieve the milestones that they committed to during the course of the program” says Diane Eustaquio.

 

As for the change in funding structure, IdeaSpace Acceleration Program Head, Brenda Valerio shares that in the first six years that they’ve been running the program, they noticed different spending patterns of the cash grant among startups. Prototype stage teams use only about 30% of the total fund because the focus is more on understanding the customer needs. They perform more prototype testing which requires lesser resources. The spending pattern in the early stage revenue teams is the same. Since they have a few paying customers, their month-on-month operations costs can usually be covered by their revenues, and the infusion of the cash grant into their working capital is allocated to testing of marketing channels, the introduction of new products as well as product optimization.

 

As a result, the startups don’t get to spend all the P500k pesos cash grant during the 4-month acceleration period. The change in prize structure will ensure that they have adequate resources to perform market validation and product testing during the program. The P1M equity fund at the end of the program ensures resources dedicated to scaling when they need it.

 

Eustaquio further shares that the core of the IdeaSpace core mission is to enable startups that endure the journey which is why aside from the cash grant, the startups are provided with in-kind benefits including MENTORING by industry experts, access to exclusive LEARNING SESSIONS, LINKAGE to corporate partners, investor network and strategic partner resources, free use of OFFICE SPACE, and HOUSING allowance for non-Metro Manila teams.

 

In 2018, winners of the startup competition included Impactville, abusiness solution to help organizations measure outputs and outcomes for CSR programs; Zestagram, an online resume-builder that helps students and fresh graduates acquire relevant work experience while still in school; WizherApp, a Software for routers that makes accessing and controlling the WiFi easier; 1export, a platform where buyers are matched with local sellers; CreatorsPub, an online publishing platform for content creators and ECFulfill, a business solution to help local MSMEs sell on global platforms.