What began as a brainchild of local tech leaders Tina Amper, Earl Valencia, Paul Pajo, Diane Eustaquio, and the late Jim Ayson back in 2013, the Geeks On A Beach (GOAB) conference launched its fourth year of celebrating tech innovation last August 25-26 at Panglao, Bohol.
The annual startup conference brings together an entire community of tech startups from all over the Philippines, as well as thought and community leaders from the US, Singapore, and Malaysia, among other countries. With the coming together of some of the brightest minds in the industry from all over the world, GOAB is truly an international event that aims to develop and grow the tech sector in the local region.
Putting Focus on Local Startups
The 2016 conference commenced with keynote speaker Monchito Ibrahim from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which has been an active supporter of GOAB from its conception. With Ibrahim’s discussion revolving around the theme “Empowering Stratups, and Government’s Role in Innovation,” he emphasized that by maximizing support for the local startup ecosystem, the Philippines has the opportunity to position itself as a leading Digital Economy.
Francis Oliva, Head of Community Partnerships for PLDT’s micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) arm, agrees. “The startup industry can bring us 2 things,” Oliva said. “The first being disruptive and innovative platforms that can put the country in the map, and the second—an infusion of foreign investments that can expedite the development of these technologies.”
It is these factors that constantly drive PLDT and Smart Communications to strengthen their commitment of developing this sector by providing avenues to grow their business with the proper infrastructure and solutions
International Perspective in the Geek Community
The lineup of resource speakers in GOAB4 included David Brown and Marc Nager of Techstars; Plug and Play Tech Center’s Jojo Flores; Chris McCann of Greylock Partners; Crowdsourcing Week’s Epi Ludvik Nekaj; Khailee Ng, Arnaud Bonzom, and Eddie Thai of 500 Startups; KK Fund’s Koichi Saito; JoeGurango of Xurpass; Diane Eustaquio of Ideaspace.ph; Voyager Innovations’ Dindo Marzan; and Smart DevNet’s Paul Pajo.
From talks on the global startup phenomenon and its impact on developing countries, raising capital and seeking out funding, to mentorship and taking advantage of available infrastructure, GOAB4’s two-day agenda provided participants with comprehensive information to enable aspiring entrepreneurs.
One key highlight of the event was the 2nd International GOAB Pitching Competition participated by shortlisted tech startups from the Philippines, Cambodia, Netherlands, and Singapore. Cebu-based engageSPARK bested six other promising global startups in the opportunity to be matched with potential mentors and investors.
Through the efforts of PLDT’s micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) arm and Smart’s development network, together with Ideaspace and PLDT Innolab, the MVP companies aim to provide proper avenues and support that startups need. By empowering Philippine startups to adapt to disruptive technologies and utilize them to their advantage, PLDT and Smart participate in the government initiative to elevate local businesses to the global space.
“Our support for the start-up community has always been unwavering. We recognize the need to engage future business leaders in their startup endeavors that are innovative and disruptive. We will continue to nurture and work closely with the community to achieve one common goal, and that is, to make the Philippine start-up ecosystem as successful as that of its neighboring countries like Malaysia and Singapore” said Paul Pajo of Smart DevNet.
Highlighted during Pajo’s presentation at GOAB were ShineOS+ and the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (SWEEP), flagship initiatives of Smart Communities—the umbrella corporate social responsibility program of Smart.
Alongside Smart’s projects, PLDT SME Nation makes available an array of solutions made tailor-fit to suit the needs of startups. With cloud computing platform Amazon Web Serivces (AWS), e-payment service PayMaya, and PLDT Web Builder at the forefront of tools easily customizable for startup businesses, PLDT provides access to dedicated, end-to-end solutions that allow tech entrepreneurs to manage operations efficiently and focus on the growth of their business.
Another flagship initiative of the group is the recent launch of the QBO Innovation Hub headed by Butch Meily. QBO, the Philippine's first national innovation hub, a public-private partnership between IdeaSpace, the Departmenr of Trade and Industry, the Department of Science and Technology, and JP Morgan Chase Foundation. QBO aims to transform the ecosystem for startup companies and launch them through initial public offerings on the stock exchange or infusions of equity capital.
“Entrepreneurs have the great potential to bring something to the market that traditional businesses can’t, and that is to innovate solutions and platforms that can stand at par with global players, with the technologies that are made available right at the palm of their hands,” concluded Oliva. “It is our vision to continue to empower and support them as they leverage on technology to drive not only their success, but also the growth of the Philippine economy.”
GOAB was organized by TechTalks.ph, together with the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), and fully supported by PLDT SME Nation, SMART DevNet, Ideaspace Foundation, and PLDT Innolab.