The 2016 search for the country’s next generation of digital business leaders has finally come to a close, and PLDT SME Nation, the micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) arm of PLDT, Inc., concluded the competition with the announcement of the new batch of game-changing entrepreneurs at the #BeTheBoss Awards Night last September 9 at the Conrad Hotel Manila.
In partnership with Rappler, Bloomberg Philippines, and Ideaspace, the #BeTheBoss awards, now on its second year, recognises promising Filipino entrepreneurs leading through tech innovation and digital integration in their business.
“It’s amazing to see the number of revolutionary MSMEs we have in the country. We received double the amount of nominations from last year’s competition,” enthused PLDT VP and Head of SME Nation Mitch Locsin, “and with over 24,000 votes that came in via Rappler, we can very much observe how technology continues to play a key role in the growth and success of the Filipino MSME.”
From over 600 nominations, this year’s #BeTheBoss Awards highlighted 12 finalists who exhibited excellence in business founded on digitally-driven and groundbreaking ideas under four categories—Boss for E-Commerce, Boss for Social Media, Boss for Social Responsibility, and Boss for Innovative Solutions.
The Boss for E-Commerce knows how to take advantage of the Internet as the world’s largest marketplace and reaches customers online. Sisters Rachel Alejandro and Barni Rennebeck of The Sexy Chef were hailed this year’s awardees for this category. The Sexy Chef pioneered the healthy food delivery service in Manila almost 12 years ago. Alejandro and Rennebeck continue to innovate and grow their business with their mobile-responsive website, which makes it convenient for their customers to pre-order their meals, and healthy lifestyle cookbooks and e-books that are available online.
The Boss for Social Media utilizes social media platforms to create meaningful connections with customers, creating an online community that meets the needs and inquiries of the market. Entrepreneurs Nadine Fanlo, Jaime Fanlo, and Jill Borja of Pedro Brewcrafters proved that even a traditional business of brewing needs technology to make make their product accessible, approachable, and fun. In the same way craft beer brings people together, the minds behind Pedro Brewcrafters maximize social media tools to create a digital avenue where customers can interact with the brand and among craft beer lovers and enthusiasts.
The Boss for Social Responsibility harnesses the power of contemporary avenues to give back to the community and contribute to a greater cause, which is what Hindy Weber and Melanie Go aspired to do with Holy Carabao. More than selling high-quality local produce, Holy Carabao advocates the empowerment of Filipino farmers through proper training, marketing and fair pay. Through technology, they are able to utilize the online platform to spread their advocacy and business.
The latest addition to the #BeTheBoss categories, Boss for Innovative Solutions thinks out of the box and maximizes available tools to offer services and ideas to broader audiences. Emerging as the first-ever Boss for Innovative Solutions is Matthew Cua of Skyeye, Inc., which began as a startup with a group of students and has today increased its capabilities tenfold. With the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, Skyeye, Inc. positions technology at the heart of their business and provides aerial maps and digital surface models faster, easier, and more efficient than traditional methods.
Emerging as the new, revolutionary group of #BeTheBoss awardees, the four winners will be flown to Silicon Valley, USA to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse themselves in the iconic home for top global tech corporations and startups alike. In addition, they will be meeting fellow Filipinos who have made it big in the different industries in the area, and engage in best practices sharings through networking and other learning opportunities. Last year’s exclusive tour brought the 2015 #BeTheBoss winners to headquarters of leading companies like Google, Twitter, and Airbnb, among others.
The four winners also each received a Samsung S7 Edge, activated with a free Smart Boss Plan, enabling the entrepreneurs with a reliable and efficient avenue for communication.
To commemorate the celebration for the new age of entrepreneurs, rising local talents were also brought together during the event to further showcase that the greatness of the Filipino knows no boundaries. The night was met with an iconic dance number from UPeepz, which rightfully earned them the 2016 Hip Hop International Championship early this year. Indie band The Ransom Collective also performed a series of originals alongside covers of favorite OPM songs. To cap off the night, artists CRWN, Curtissmith, and Keiko Necesario ignited the stage with a special collab number on living out dreams, composed and sung exclusively for the momentous event. An up and coming modern wave of Filipino talents, they themselves have learned to adapt to the digital space, using online platforms to reach the entire world with their movement and their music.
“The #BeTheBoss awards is just one of our flagship projects in our mission to empower Filipinos to go into business with the right tools and solutions to help them make it big,” added Locsin. “Technology is the great equalizer for MSMEs, and we hope to continue to support the revolutionary movement of local entrepreneurship and empower business owners to thrive in the digital space.”