Boracay start-up attracts 300 geeks

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A PHILIPPINE start-up community road map is needed to push the Philippine economy forward faster.

This consensus began shaping up as some 300 Pinoy and international attendees participated in the two-day conference dubbed as Geeks on a Beach or #GOAB in the world-famous tourism destination in the Philippines, Boracay Island.

Held from 26 to 27 September, the conference themed “Bringing together tech innovators – from startups to global heroes” gathered an impressive lineup of 41 tech/startup experts as event speakers and the support of 59 sponsors and partners.

In a roundtable discussion among stakeholders, deputy executive Director Mon Ibrahim of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Information and Communication Technology Office (ICTO) welcomed, among other recommendations, the crafting of a Philippine road map for startups.

Startups refer to fast-growing Internet-based businesses set up by entrepreneurs, something that began in the first startup community in Silicon Valley decades ago and spread globally through the years.

During the press conference that opened the #GOAB conference, Ibrahim revealed that government plans to generate 1.5 million direct employment for the Philippine IT industry. Of this figure, he said, 40% is planned to be generated outside of Manila.

Veteran startup entrepreneurs say that private sector initiative for growing the startup community should continue. Tina Amper of TechTalks.ph and prime mover of the #GOAB conference, for instance, initially funded efforts for startup gatherings from her own pocket.

Bowei Gai, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, likewise said that venture capital is also not necessary at the beginning in order to develop startup communities. “Startups can self-fund and venture capital will just come.”

Gai, who just concluded a 29-country tour in nine months for his World Start-up Report, said the Philippines has a lot of potential as an emerging startup destination during his keynote talk during the second day of the conference.

Plug and Play co-founder Jojo Flores said that three years ago MIT funded 26,000 companies which hired 3 million employees and earned $2 trillion a year.

The young Cebuano Albert Padin, who founded SpellDial, said startups are risky but if you’re afraid to take risks we’ll still be where we are exactly right now.

According to Earl Valencia, president of IdeaSpace.ph, “We have the next 5 years to prove that we are the epicenter of something – technology. If Sundance is for films, Davos for G8 leaders, then Philippines should be about startups.”

The loud call from the country’s emerging startup communities should be a signal for Philippine policymakers to move towards helping homegrown tech entrepreneurs become global champions rather than simply attracting foreign multinationals to invest in the country.

As of the moment, Ibrahim of DOST said his office has contributed funding to #GOAB. While his office has been responsible for making Philippines an outsourcing destination starting in 2005, “we believe the country is also about tech innovation.”

Organized by TechTalks.ph, powered by Sym.ph, public relations and event management by PRWorks, branding by HappyGaraje.com, #GOAB is co-organized by DOST-ICTO and co-presented by SMART, SMART Bro, SMART Devnet, and IdeaSpace.ph.

Other partners are Amazon Web Services as platinum sponsor, WaveMaker Labs as gold sponsor, Freelancer.ph, Ng Khai Development Corporation, LBC Express as the official logistics partner, Fineupgrades, TheGoSee.com, Boracay Pub Crawl, SPR Boracay Real Estate as silver sponsors, Airbnb as the official accommodation partner, Microsoft Philippines, Island Souvenirs, GTCosmetics Manufacturing and Megaworld as bronze sponsors.

Philippine Software Industry Association, National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, UP CebuInit.org, CedFit.org, Game Developers Association of the Philippines, Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines, Brain Gain Network, DevCon, UVNS, and STAC-Silicon Valley are the event’s institutional partners.

#GOAB is also supported by Lenovo Mobile, Metrodeal.com, KuyiMobile, Plug and Play Tech Center, SHIFT, SeedAsia, Mynimo, Pinoy Great Deals, Crowdsourcing Week, Geek Speak, R & M Preserves, Malee, Lenddo and Lakwatsa Resto Lounge, along with Webgeek, Newsdesk Asia, istorya.net,auza.net, Third Team Media, Panay News, Davao Bloggers Society, Vigattin Radio, Inno Pub Media, e27/SGEntrepreneurs, Rappler, Alcordo Advertising, Asian Journal Publications, Balik Bayan Magazine, and ABS-CBN as media partners. | PR

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