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The emerging tech startup scene in the Philippines

Since the tremendous success of former startups and now tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and others, the world has turned its attention to tech startups in the hopes of finding the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs.
 
In the Philippines, the startup community may not be as large as in many of its western and Asian counterparts, but it shows plenty of potential and dynamism. What we lack in technology infrastructures, we more than make up for with our wealth of homegrown talents and enthusiasm.
 
Here’s a look at the tech startup community in the country today.
 

The Philippine startup ecosystem in numbers

 
The Philippine startup scene is gaining momentum. There are over 400 startups in the country today, about 100 more than the number of startups in 2017, and more than four times the number identified in 2015 by the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s Philippine Roadmap for Digital Startups.
 
There has also been a significant increase in the number of investors, with the startup ecosystem identifying around 50 angel investors, 40 venture capitalists, 35 incubators and accelerators, and 120 co-working spaces. In 2013, there were only about 10 local incubators, seed funders, and venture capitalists, as well as 10 international VCs. Global investors, such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P., Ant Financial Services Group, and Tencent Holdings, are among the latest participants in the local startup scene.
 
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’s 2020 Philippine Startup Survey, the investor profile in the local startup scene is widely varied, with 47% of the initial funding coming from family funds, 34% from angel investors, 15% from personal funding, and 12% coming from venture capitalists, corporate investors, and private equity funds.
 

Government initiatives

 
The startup ecosystem in the Philippines is led and overseen by three government agencies — the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology.
 
In 2015, the startup community was given a tremendous boost with the creation of the Philippine Roadmap for Digital Startups, which aimed to consolidate all efforts and provide a general strategy in growing the ecosystem. In 2016, the public and private sectors collaborated to create QBO Innovation Hub, a center providing training, mentorship, research, and other kinds of support for startups.
 
In 2019, a new law was signed to further intensify government support to the startup ecosystem. Republic Act 11337, or the Innovative Startup Act, appropriates P1 billion as venture funding to qualified startups, and provides other forms of support, including tax exemptions, free access to government services, and expedited business permit licensing.
 

Recent breakthroughs and milestones

 
In their 2019 report, StartupBlink, a global resource for startups, ranked the Philippines the 54th best startup ecosystem among 100 countries — an improvement over the country’s #70 ranking in 2017. In 2018, more than $300 million worth of deals were raised by the community.
 
Startup Genome, another important resource for startups worldwide, has ranked Manila in the top 40 Emerging Ecosystems in their Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020. The report also includes the city among the top 20 ecosystems in the “Bang for Buck” category and in the top 30 for the “Affordable Talent” category, citing Manila’s experienced and young workforce with strong English language skills.
 
These are some of the most significant achievements by local startups in the last 3 years:
 

  • In 2018, KKR and Tencent Holdings invested $175 million in Voyager Innovations
  • In February, 2019, Coins.ph was inaugurated as the second best blockchain platform in Southeast Asia.
  • In November, 2019, PayMongo garnered $2.7 million in seed round capital, the largest in the history of Philippine startups

 

The top startups in the Philippines today

 
Startup experts and watchers point to fintech, or financial technology, and e-commerce as the major growth areas in the Philippine startup ecosystem. Fintech ventures make up about 15% of startups in the country today, while the e-commerce industry is growing at an average rate of 26.4% yearly, making it one of the fastest growing markets in Southeast Asia.
 
The best performing local startups in the Philippines today, as ranked by Startup Ranking, offer a wide range of products and services. Take a look at some of them to get an idea on how widely diverse these businesses are:
 

  • PricePrice.com – A price comparison site for computers, mobile phones, and other electronic devices
  • Investagrams – A social financial platform providing analytical and educational tools, and an online community for stock market investors
  • Kalibrr – A learning and job matching website for call center employees
  • Galleon PH – An e-commerce website for products that are not available in the Philippines
  • MoneyMax.PH – A price comparison site for car insurance plans, credit cards, broadband plans, and other financial products in the Philippines
  • Brainly Philippines – A social learning network where students can interact with each other to get help with homework and academic lessons
  • RareJob.com.ph – An online English school based in the Philippines
  • MyProperty – A website for real estate listings in the Philippines

 
If you have a new idea that you think can improve the lives of thousands, don’t hesitate to explore its potential as a startup. Learn more about this emerging market sector by calling us at +63.917.892.2337 or through this website.