The Philippines’ impressive economic growth in the last few years has been spurred in large part by the country’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. Now considered one of the world’s biggest BPO hubs, the Philippines has received recognition for its wealth of talents in the tech industry, which paved the way for the emergence of startups.
The success of several Filipino startups has highlighted this business sector’s huge potential. In 2015, the government unveiled a road map that would see the industry growing to US$2 billion by 2020, with 500 successful startups.
Meantime, fledgling entrepreneurs are taking inspiration from the success of those who have come before them. Here are four of the most successful startups in the Philippines to date.
On its website, Xurpas describes itself as the “largest consumer technology company in the Philippines.” Founded in 2001, the company has grown from providing content to telecommunications operators to offering a wide range of products and services that include mobile games, enterprise solutions, HR services technology, messaging and many more.
The company started in 2001 with only P62,500 as paid-in capital, and the three founders, Nix Nolledo, Raymond Racaza and Fernando Garcia, working for free out of Nix’s father’s office. Xurpas initially provided “legacy content” to the country’s telcos, such as ringtones, jokes, and horoscopes.
With the rise of smartphone use in the Philippines,Xurpas extended its offerings to include mobile enterprise services, such as customized call/SMS/data bundles and mobile e-commerce. In addition to telcos, their client base expanded to government agencies and other private corporations like Robinson’s Land and Nestlé Philippines.
Xurpas went public in 2014 in the Philippine Stock Exchange with a market valuation of US$160 million. It is now looking to expand its reach to the rest of Southeast Asia.
Chikka Text Messenger, or simply Chikka, is an internet-based app that allows free text messaging between online users and offline mobile subscribers. It was introduced in 2000 by Chikka Philippines, Inc., which was founded in the same year by Chito Bustamante, Dennis Mendiola and Alexandra Roxas.
Chikka was originally developed with overseas Filipino workers in mind, but the app caught on with international subscribers as well. Today, Chikka services are offered by more than 45 mobile carriers in 14 countries.
In 2009, Chikka Philippines was wholly acquired by Smart Communications, with a market valuation of US$15 million in cash and stock.
I-Remit offers fund transfer and remittance services primarily for overseas Filipino workers and their beneficiaries in the Philippines. It was incorporated in 2001, and was the first remittance company to be registered with the Board of Investments as an IT services firm. It now offers various remittance and foreign currency transaction services, and has subsidiaries in 10 other countries. The company went public in 2007 with a market valuation of US$35.5 million dollars.
Entertainment Gateway Group (EGG) was founded in 2001 with three employees, providing mobile content and digital applications, such as interactive web portals, online communities, music, news, and games. When the company was acquired by Globe Telecoms in 2008, it had a market valuation of US$8 million. In 2014, the company was renamed Yondu, and in 2015, consumer technology Xurpas, which was a startup itself, acquired a 51% stake in the business.