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Exciting times for local startups

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THESE are exciting times for local startups, Plug and Play Tech Center co-founder and vice president for operations Jojo Flores said in a press conference last week.

Flores was in Cebu to announce this year’s ON3 Startup Pitching Competition. During the press conference in CeBuinIT or the Cebu Business Incubator for IT, Flores said at least four Philippine-based groups want to set up investment facilities to fund start-ups.

That is a sharp rise, indeed, from the number of local venture capitalists of previous years: zero.

In explaining his drive to cultivate startups and the culture that produces people who form startups, Flores cited a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management titled, “Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT.

Plug and Play Tech Center co-founder and vice president for operations Jojo Flores, SpellDial's Albert Padin and Mark Abella of TechTalks.ph during the press conference on ON3 Startup Pitching Competition. CLICK TO ENLARGE. (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

Plug and Play Tech Center co-founder and vice president for operations Jojo Flores, SpellDial's Albert Padin and Mark Abella of TechTalks.ph during the press conference on ON3 Startup Pitching Competition. CLICK TO ENLARGE. (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

Flores said the study covered entrepreneurial programs started in the 1970s and formalized in the 1990s. Most of the companies were knowledge-based and global.

He said MIT alumni created 25,800 companies that employ 3.3 million people with annual revenues of $2 trillion, making it the 11th largest economy of the world.

“I refuse to accept that MIT has more resources, that it has more talented people than the entire Philippines,” Flores said. “Think of the potential if we do things right.”

He said the government and private sector should cultivate a culture that produces companies like the technology startups that have been changing the world.

He said that in India, an owner of a technology company asked him to set up a startup facility near his office building. The company had been losing people to startups and other firms and he wanted his employees to have the ability to pursue startup ideas and yet still stay in their jobs.

And by setting up the facility near his building, the company owner was assured of having first pass at the projects, whether to fund it or buy it outright.

Here in Cebu, business process outsourcing (BPO) workers pursuing their startup dreams go to the CeBuinIT facility in the University of the Philippines campus in Lahug after their shifts to work on their projects.

The local startup community, however, will only get more exciting with the events scheduled later for the year.

This year, ON3 will again provide local companies a venue to pitch their startup ideas. ON3 is a three-day program that coaches technologists and entrepreneurs on how to pitch their startup ideas.

The program is open to Filipino startup companies involved in technology – consumer web, Internet, mobile, wireless, social media, gaming, software, clean and biotech.

Flores said startups that want to join must be looking for funding or global business development.

ON3 will be held on April 10 to 12. “April 10 and 11 will be exclusively for the coaching and mentoring of contestants while April 12 is the actual competition that is open to the public,” organizers said.

ON3 is organized by meetup group TechTalks Cebu.

Last year’s winner was photo sharing social network PicLyf and members of its team are on their way to Silicon Valley for three months as part of their prize. There, they will be meeting with venture capitalists for possible funding.

And after the Cebu leg of ON3, local startups have another event to look forward to: Startup Weekend Cebu on May 11 to 13.

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