MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Despite the global pandemic, the Philippines is poised to be one of five ASEAN countries to become tech powerhouses in the next 15 years, according to the Center for Economics Business Research (CEBR).
In support of this, Angkas CEO George Royeca also believes the country is ready for a big leap forward in the tech and startup sectors. These industries and their continuous growth in recent years will be the primary focus of this year’s IMMAP DigiCon Valley 2022, which will be co-presented by transport company Angkas, the leading motorcycle taxi and delivery platform.
“While the pandemic has been the worst global crisis of the millennium undeniably opened new avenues for rapid growth in the country, particularly in the tech sector. Overnight, ecommerce, online payments, e-wallets, telemedicine, online gig employment, digital banks as well as delivery and logistics services experienced exponential growth which then had to be supported by faster internet speeds,” George pointed out.
“The pandemic and the restricted mobility it necessitated primed the market in terms of tech literacy and a willingness to adopt tech-based solutions. There are products and services the market is ready for now that would not have been viable pre-pandemic, and that might have otherwise taken another five to 10 years for the country to be ready for,” he added. “We have had, and continue to have an ideal and unprecedented climate for both developing and funding tech startups. The kind of businesses that offer innovative products and services we couldn’t have even imagined pre-pandemic,” George concluded.
The road less trafficked
Angkas was itself an innovation, far more unconventional than it seems on the surface. Motorcycle taxis were already in wide use for public transport all over the region at the time of Angkas’ inception in 2015. Despite the crippling traffic in Metro Manila and its staggering economic cost, motorcycle taxis were not a solution being considered by anyone at the time, because motorcycles had an appalling safety record.
The “Metro Manila Accident Recording and Analysis System (MMARAS) Traffic Accident” report for 2015 indicated that motorcycle accidents comprised 39.6% of all vehicular accidents and 33.6% of all fatal accidents in Metro Manila. In each case they were by far the single largest contributors. Filipino motorcycle riders were regarded as too undisciplined for such a service to be reasonably safe.
Angkas’ innovation was in actually believing that with training, motivation and support, Filipinos could be the backbone of a safe and professionalized app-enabled motorcycle taxi service. “We shoulder the training of all rider applicants, then we carefully select only the top 30%. We also hold regular company events that serve as refreshers, and venues for more training in soft skills, and even things like anti-sexual harassment education,” explained George. “The result is that after literally millions of rides booked, our safety record is 99.997%.”
Sense of purpose, grit resilience
“I think the number one thing that potential startups should begin with is seeing the bigger picture: are you solving a real problem?” asked George. “Any business venture is always going [to] have a money-making aspect, but in this day and age, it is businesses that have an innate sense of purpose and that offer real solutions to real problems that are embraced by the public,” he pointed out.
The Angkas CEO had specific advice to would-be startups on failure: “Don’t be afraid of failure or adversity, these build grit. As long as you are imbued with a sense of purpose, you will overcome failure and adversity and come out stronger, and with more grit.”
In Angkas’ short history, they were ordered to cease operations twice. Their rider pool was capped, and just when they seemed in the clear, the pandemic hit. Showing true resilience, it was then that Angkas launched a courier and buying assistant service, allowing more people to do errands and business safely from home. Angkas also formed a partnership with the Red Cross to assist with the delivery, and administration of Covid-19 test kits. When it became reasonably safe to do so, Angkas also offered free rides to medical frontliners.
Co-creation Breeds Innovation
Community building begins when everyone contributes for the welfare of everyone, and that is exactly what resonated with Angkas to sign up and be a co-presenter for this year’s IMMAP DigiCon Valley 2022, one of the most anticipated digital conferences in the industry which gathers professionals from marketing, advertising, and digital sectors to hear and learn from world-renowned and celebrated local keynote speakers.
The Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) is an organization that works toward educating and providing the necessary digital tools for advertising and integrated marketing professionals to make better communication decisions. One such effort is the yearly DigiCon.
George explained, “When you have a business that serves many, it is impossible to innovate without co-creation. Angkas would not have been possible without the coming together of technology innovations, government regulators, customers, and of course our rider partners, to create a “winnovation”, an innovation in which everyone has a stake, and in which everybody wins.”
After two years of purely virtual connections, this year’s IMMAP DigiCon Valley 2022 will finally bring back face-to-face networking through the DigiCon After-Hours, which will be held during the evenings across the city, promising to provide cocktails and entertainment, and allow delegates to physically reconnect with other industry players.
“I think what Angkas is excited about is this live interaction; a lot of the best collaborations and partnerships happen because of these more spontaneous, in-person things, and human interaction is what makes all the creativity and innovation grow more,” mused George.
As co-presentor for this year’s IMMAP DigiCon Valley 2022, Angkas hopes that this can be a great model to induce new SMEs in the tech and startup sector, while also introducing a community mindset that can hopefully solve daily problems for Filipinos.
DigiCon Valley 2022 is happening on October 10 to 14 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm PST using the ViVYD platform, with all new tracks that tackle the different stages of innovation: Launchpad, Hypergrowth, Breakthrough, and Enterprise.
This year’s prestigious keynote speakers include one of the most influential women in the world and Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington; Rappler Founder and the first Filipino Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Maria Ressa; internationally acclaimed marketing expert and academic, Mark Ritson; co-founder of Character ventures and Design Sprint inventor, Jake Knapp; and Global CMO of Dole Sunshine Company, Rupen Desai.