Bringing together the expertise of successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and the management training capabilities of the Asian Institute of Management, an incubator program headlined by Filipino tech innovator Diosdado “Dado” Banatao seeks to develop early-stage local startups.
The AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator is located in the AIM campus in Makati City and has the physical capacity to host 11 startups of up to 6 people each, said AIM President and Dean Jikyeong Kang during a press conference at the facility last Thursday.
What differentiates their incubator?
“How do we differentiate our incubator? We have a rock star in Dado. Right there we think we make a huge distinction. He is not only an inventor, engineer but he is also an entrepreneur and that makes a huge difference,” Kang said.
Banatao built several companies in Silicon Valley, among them Chips & Technologies, S3 Graphics, SiRF, Marvell, and Inphi. “He is best known for pioneering two technologies that are widely regarded as the cornerstones of today’s PC: chipset and graphics acceleration architecture,” AIM said in a press statement.
Banatao is chairman of the Philippine Development (PhilDev) Foundation, an organization that seeks to boost economic growth in the country “through education, innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Foundation for success
“The combination of business knowledge and innovation is going to be the foundation for success of the incubator,” Banatao said during the event.
The incubator received a P14.8 million grant in initial funding under the Department of Science and Technology Incubator Creation Program.
The program will tap people with “experience in building technology-based, innovative, and very successful companies in Silicon Valley,” he said. But this will always be grounded on “local culture and practices.”
“When we say we’ll be bringing in Silicon Valley experience and expertise, we’re not talking superficial, somebody who was there for a few months or few years. We’re talking about people who are actually successful, who actually made it there and who knows how to make this kind of project work in a national arena,” said Kang.
As example of the type of expertise the facility will tap, Banatao cited how they brought in 6 Google engineers who then wrote software for the incubator to cover all aspects of mentoring.
Science, technology focus
Banatao said the early stages of forming a startup to work on an idea “is the toughest with the highest failure rate.”
“Unless there is help from investors or friendly mentors, founders of the company are either suicidal or “crazy”, putting at risk their life status, family, friends, and future,” he said.
The incubator is looking for startups with science and technology solutions in communications, agriculture, health, artificial intelligence, internet of things, and other deep technology.
Strong commitment, passion
“They have to be 120 percent committed,” Kang said. “Dado likes to use the expression that they have to be suicidal. We don’t exactly want anybody committing suicide, it means they have to be really, really committed, passionate and have energy to take it all the way.”
Time isn’t a strict criterion for the program, Banatao said. “Along the way, the investors and the people involved will judge as to whether that company can get to the next step, whatever that step maybe. We don’t want to continue to lose money simply because of time.”
Startups can stay until the incubator deems them ready. “Sometimes we may just ask the startup to leave the incubator after just a few months because the idea may not be that good in the first place and we made a mistake in accepting them,” he said.
Mentoring by AIM network
Kang said the incubator “will also take advantage of the fact that this is housed at AIM. It’s a management school, it’s a business school. We will provide them with the mentoring that will come from not only our faculty and distinguished alumni but also businesses and the larger community. That amounts to a huge advantage.”
Phildev executive director Chips Guevara said the incubator will work on a “rolling application with no set deadline.” A startup can apply so long as there is a spot in the program. All applicants must fill out the form on the AIM website at https://aim.edu/dado-banatao-incubator.
In talking about the push for technology startups, Banatao said that “as we did our research, we found out that it’s only through innovation will a country develop its economy. Through economic development we will see significant positive effect on poverty.”
What Startups Get
- World-class mentorship from serial entrepreneurs, top executives, industry experts, including individuals with a successful track record in Silicon Valley
- Access to the global funding network of Dado Banatao, PhilDev, and AIM
- Education and training calibrated to the needs of the startup’s founders
- Resources from selected partners
- Rent-free, dedicated office space with high-speed Internet connectivity inside the AIM Campus in the heart of the Makati CBD
- Demo nights and exclusive networking events for business development and investments