Start up, get ready to go

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The excitement was palpable in last Thursday night’s meetup among Cebu startups at the office of the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-it). So was the sense of optimism.

Members of the TechTalks.ph community, which is hosted in an account with meetup.com, gathered to meet other members with the arrival in Cebu of organizer Tina (she requested that we identify her only by her first name).

Last Thursday’s event was the eighth meetup of the group. Previous meetups covered such topics as Google applications, business of software startups and challenges of building one, and how to set up a company.

The group previously had as speaker Eric Su, the founder of photo-sharing service PicLyf. Su said during his guesting that unlike Silicon Valley or other areas where startups have succeeded, the Philippines is a “harsh environment” for startups.

Still, local startups are undeterred. Those present last Thursday–web developers, hardcore programmers, site managers, service founders–were excitedly talking about projects they were doing or planning during the meet and in the after-event meal and drinks.

Members of local startups meet in the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (CEDF-IT) office at the Asiatown IT Park in Cebu City. (Photo by Honeylyn Balingcasag)
Members of local startups meet in the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (CEDF-IT) office at the Asiatown IT Park in Cebu City. (Photo by Honeylyn Balingcasag)

The geek meter pointed to full during the event–a few said they were at the event because they were so fed up facing a computer monitor and going over code that they wanted to be in front of humans for a change.

Among those present last Thursday was hotshot web developer Mark Buenconsejo of CareSharing and Tweetitow fame. Mark and Paolo Lim, a member of the CareSharing team, shared their plans, which are still hush-hush for now, for a local web service for runners that involves grabbing data from such devices as a Garmin global positioning system (GPS) watch and Nike+ sensors. Lim and Joseph Alquisola, another CareSharing developer, are runners and members of the Ungo Runners. The service has a captured market of testers.

Also present last Thursday was Albert Padin, the founder and chief executive officer of SpellDial, a nifty application that enables dialing using names instead of phone numbers. What’s the fuss, someone once asked me about this app, we already do that with the modern phonebook. Not really. You still hand out phone numbers today.

With SpellDial, you don’t need to recite digits, you just give out your SpellDial name.

It’s a great idea and I hope a large web service, even a social network like Facebook, buys the service. Think about it, wouldn’t it be cool if we could just call people through their phone using their Facebook usernames?

The group members’ optimism is contagious. I got into a discussion with a group of bloggers and developers during the event and I resolved to finally start a side project that I had set aside for years.

There is basis for optimism among local startups, said Exist president and chief executive officer Jerry Rapes during an interview for a feature article that will come out in this section this week.

It is a great time to play the startup game, said Rapes, whose company still has a startup mentality. For one, cloud computing, another loud buzzword, has made it easier for entrepreneurs to deploy and scale websites and services.

Now’s the best time, one of those who attended the meetup told me, to chase your online dreams.

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