27 Oct DTI, Acudeen Host APEC O2O For Game Changing Local Startups
Acudeen Technologies, Inc. (Acudeen), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in partnership with the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (SMEA) of Taiwan (ROC), and the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, has just concluded Day 2 of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Policy Dialogue on MSME – Marketplace & O2O Forum on October 18, 2017 at the Manila Elk’s Club, in Corinthian Plaza, Makati City. The APEC O2O Forum showcased some of the leading and most promising startups in the Philippines to delegates from Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Germany, and France through the Startup Ecosystem Enabler program and the CEO Forum with Tech Companies.
The Startup Ecosystem Enabler program allowed both foreign and local delegates to visit tech startup companies around Makati, Metro Manila’s Central Business District. Here, they were able to see how each company functions, what departments play important roles in driving the growth and development, get feedback from the employees, and more importantly, know about how these companies are changing the game and disrupting their own industries through each company’s presentation. The program was participated by Acudeen, Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI), Paynamics Technologies, Inc. (Paynamics), and ACCELER8 Co-Working Space (ACCELER8).
Afterwards, all the delegates gathered at the Manila Elk’s Club for the second part of the program, the CEO Forum with Tech Companies, which involves a panel discussion that included Mario Jordan Fetalino III, Founder and CEO of Acudeen, Audrey Tanco Uy, Founder and CEO of ServeHappy Jobs, John Bailon, Co-Founder and CEO of SCI, Mylene Chua, Co-Founder and CEO of Paynamics, Mikko Barranda, CoFounder of ACCELER8, as moderated by Edison Tsai, Executive Director of New Union Philippines.
The forum opened with the remarks of Director Jerry Clavesillas, Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Department of Trade and Industry as represented by Cynthia De La Cruz, Supervising Trade Industry Development Specialist of the Bureau. “Today, we find ourselves in a strong position to ride the waves of digital transformation where opportunities are limitless. Innovations, particularly through the emergence of financial technology more commonly known as Fintech, can indeed be the catalyst for SME growth and development. SMEs especially startups must be equipped for taking on the challenges and making the most of their opportunities in today’s technologically advanced global economy for them to thrive and remain relevant.” said Director Jerry.
Although the startup scene has been emerging fast in the country, these companies still need to work hand-in-hand with the government to create policies in order to be fully beneficial to its local customers. In the second part of the forum, the Secured Transactions Bill, one of the policies being passed that is essential for the continuous growth of FinTech (financial technology) startups was discussed by Gay Santos, Senior Financial Sector Specialist at The World Bank – International Finance Corporation. “There is a growing awareness that Fintech and Credit Infrastructure reforms are critical pieces to promote financial inclusion. In the Philippines specifically, the government, apart from enhancing policies and its approach to Fintech is also taking a parallel effort to strengthen its credit infrastructure through laws like the Secured Transactions bill pending in the Philippine Senate and Congress that seeks to broaden
the use of movable assets as collateral vs. Land for MSMEs to access finance. This bill once it becomes a law can further redefine and enhance the marketplace and opportunities for Fintech in the Philippines.”
Government support is critical for game changing startups especially if their goal is to disrupt the likely ineffective system of current traditional companies and corporations. During the CEO Forum, the panelists shared significant insights about their thought processes coming into their businesses and the primary reasons they started their companies.
“Coming from the restaurant business, I have experienced the difficulty in hiring new employees specific for this type of work. Yes, there are already a number of online job search platforms, but the requirements for the restaurant, hospitality, travel and other similar industries are very distinct.” said Audrey Tanco Uy of ServeHappy Jobs.
“Co-working spaces are not just for individuals who work on their own or startups who need a space for their team. There are a lot of companies who have been around for years but they don’t necessarily need an office space since they’re only composed of a small team. This doesn’t mean they are not growing, they just simply do not need more employees to run the business. That’s why we built this here because we saw the gap and we are trying to fill it.” said Mikko Barranda of ACCELER8 Co-Working Space.
In the Philippines, financial inclusion has been the primary mission of aspiring local FinTech startups. There is a huge credit gap for MSMEs but with only few options for alternative financing. “What Acudeen wants to provide local businesses is simple; Accessibility. Micro businesses in the Philippines have little to no access to financing from banks and other financial institutions. One of the reasons is they can’t provide a collateral in exchange for the financing they are asking. So to bring financial inclusion to MSMEs, we use receivables as collateral and provide funding through our online platform. Simple, easy, and accessible.” said Magellan Fetalino of Acudeen.
For the benefit of local and foreign delegates, the startup founders also offered their piece of advice when starting a business. “We do not always have to be experts at the business we want to create in the beginning. But at the end of the day, you have to be ultimately good at what you do. I finished Accounting in college and I had no idea about the tech industry or how our company will work. But the idea was there so I had to learn quickly and pick up information as we go. And it worked for us” said Mylene Chua of Paynamics.
“I built a number of companies that did not work out the way I envisioned them. But I never consider them as failures. For me, every time something doesn’t work out in your favor, it is a learning experience for you to do better next time. From there, you’ll already know how to act when faced with the same adversity in the future. Failures like these prepare you for future success.” said John Bailon of SCI.
The Philippine startup scene, although still relatively in its early stages, have proved to be highly promising with the emergence of such companies that participated in the panel. With the goal to create a solution to the common problems which are not being addressed in the past, it is only a matter of time before the local market fully embraces them. Government support is essential and it is through events like the APEC O2O Forum that startups can be truly recognized and properly backed.