Startup Mania Comes to Cebu City

Enthusiastic startup communities continue to emerge in the Philippines. Last fall, I reported on an event known as “Startup Weekend Manila.” Now a vibrant event has concluded in Cebu City, the country’s second-largest metro area.
Startup Weekend Cebu produced some 20 software ideas over the course of 54 hours, at an event hosted by the University of the Philippines Cebu. The first-place team demonstrated a mobile app called “WaitKnowMore,” which addresses the problem of insanely long waiting lines in the Philippines; no doubt the idea could be useful in many other places as well.
A mobile cooking app from a team called, Codetoki, a web app that helps IT students make themselves attractive to employers, and an app called Digital Lifeline were other high finishers at the event.
Judges included technologists, executives, and entrepreneurs from the Philippines and beyond.
The guileless enthusiasm shown by participants at these events are a refreshing change from the hardboiled cynicism that has crept into Silicon Valley. There’s no talk of monetizing eyeballs, invasion of privacy as a benefit, or of massive IPOs.
Just rooms-full of mostly young people, with a few greyhairs thrown in to season the menudo. One of the challenges these fledgling entrepreneurs face is learning how to present their ideas forcefully and succinctly in a culture that tilts strongly toward showing humility and talking things through thoroughly.

When’s the Harvest?
Will any of these ideas bear fruit? Is The Next Big Thing lurking in this developing tropical ecosystem? Not for a mere writer to judge, but it’s important to note that two prominent Philippine entrepreneurs, Dado Banatao and Winston Damarillo held a follow-up event known as the Entrepreneurship Camp, the first of its kind in the Philippines.
Dado is currently with Tallwood Venture Capital, and is best-known for as a co-founder of Chips & Technologies and S3 Graphics. Winston is founder of Morphlabs and Exist, companies he founded after selling Gluecode to IBM in 2005.
Dado is also Chair of PhilDev and Winston founder of DevCon, two organizations that promote technological entrepreneurship and leadership in the Philippines. “We believe that truly sustainable economic development can only be realized when we have achieved a critical mass of Entrepreneurs in the country,” Dado said at the Cebu event. Winston echoed those remarks, noting, “It is important that we provide a pathway for our technologists and engineers to become entrepreneurs,”
Dado and Winston are now working on a larger event, called “Silicon Valley Comes to the Philippines,” scheduled for October of this year. I’ll stay in touch with them about this – my hope is that the local development communities can continue to grow, and even take its place among the major technology regions of the world, while retaining its infectious enthusiasm and charm.

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