Tech startup fever spreads to Bacolod

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THE tech startup fever has reached Bacolod as 45 teams with innovative ideas for web and mobile competed at the first Startup Weekend in Negros Occidental organized by the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT), Inc. and supported by Kickstart Ventures, Inc., a fully-owned subsidiary of Globe Telecom.

iRate, a mobile platform for consumer complaints, emerged as the unanimous choice among the judges followed by Parental Guidance’s PTA 101, an app which aims to establish a clear line of communication between parents and teachers via text messaging.  In third place is Hermes, a hospital charting application.

The three winners will each be provided a 50 square meter office space at the soon-to-be-opened Negros 1st Cyber Centre complete with work stations, printers, and high-speed internet connection as well as a three-month mentorship from the UP Cebu Technology Business Incubator which is set to establish the first incubation course in the province in partnership with the Negros Occidental local government.

The 13 other teams which made it to the final leg of the competition are also offered space in the facility at a very affordable cost.

Pia Angeli Bernal, Social Enterprise Investments Manager of Kickstart said: “Bacolod has been waiting a long time for this kind of opportunity so it is exciting to witness many people showing interest in technopreneurship and participating in competitions like Startup Weekend.  This year’s entries have a lot potential, thus, we look forward to seeing more Negrenses who would form startup companies and use current technology to come out with new and innovative products for mobile and the web.”

Startup Weekend was first brought to Manila by Kickstart and its partner ProudCloud in 2011.  Since then, the 54-hour pitching competition for developers, designers, marketers, and product managers has been held in Cebu and Davao, and recently, Bacolod.

First place winner iRate came about because no one seems to be satisfied with the way customer service complaints have been handled both by government agencies and businesses.

“Our mission is to become the platform for customer redress.  iRate aims to take the hassles and hazards off of submitting customer complaints to become the B2B (Business-to-Business) solution of choice for government agencies to resolve these issues.  iRate is not just for ranting —  there’s Facebook and Twitter for that but iRate is where they can actually tell their problem and have a guarantee that somebody is really taking care of them,” said iRate creator and founder Neal Minosa.

On the other hand, PTA 101 promotes parent engagement in the studies of their children as the app allows up-to-date information about a student’s academic performance, school activities, among other matters.

Hermes may have ended third but only due to the immaturity of the Philippine market.  Although electronic medical charting for hospitals is already being implemented in more advanced countries, Philippine laws have yet to mandate its use.

Judges for Startup Weekend Bacolod are Monchito Brahim, Deputy Director, ICTO-DOST; Beryl Chavez Li, Director for Southeast Asia, Seed Asia Co.;  Wilson Ng, President, Professional Career Online Institute; Mary Ann Colmenares, Chair, Provincial Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development; and Calen Martin Legaspi, Founder and President, Orange and Bronze Co.

Kickstart is an incubator with a US$2.4 Million investment fund. It helps startups operating in the Philippines to build robust businesses and technical foundations, and to scale by putting big company resources – – capital, facilities, expertise, and business connections – – behind the startups it funds so they can launch faster and achieve scale profitability sooner.

Kickstart is a wholly-owned subsidiary of major telecommunications firm Globe Telecom, backed by SingTel and the Ayala Corporation. It is a member of the Singtel Group Regional Seed Network with a combined 465 million subscriber base.  | PR

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