Community Entrepreneurship Tech

OCEAN18 conference in Cebu to focus on how to protect, expand homegrown innovation

A conference that started after the World Economic Forum was held in the Philippines in 2014 will focus this year on homegrown innovation and “how to protect, grow, expand, and make sustainable our own industries.”

“We’re beginning to worry about our industries, like we consume a lot more shoes from outside the Philippines than shoes made here. We’re beginning to lose our furniture industry, we’re beginning to import more and more rice, we’re beginning to depend so much on imports and our exports are also declining so we wanna try to make sure that we can focus on that,” said Winston Damarillo, co-chair of OCEAN18 and founder and CEO of Amihan Global Strategies.

Multi-sectoral strategy for growth

The Open Collaboration with East Asian Networks or OCEAN18 will be held in Cebu this November.

Organizers said that the conference seeks to “shape the future of the Philippines by bringing together indiepreneurs, sector industry champions, and policy makers to create a multi-sectoral strategy for economic growth.”

Damarillo said indiepreneurs or independent entrepreneurs are early-stage ventures “have the potential to scale up tremendously and shake up their sectors.”

Damarillo is a venture capitalist and founder of several successful startups.

Unlike in the previous two stagings in 2014 and 2016, however, this year’s OCEAN conference will have a series of masterclasses throughout the country starting in this Friday, July 27, at the Crimson Resort and Spa in Mactan, Cebu.

OCEAN18 Cebu
HOMEGROWN INNOVATION. Cecilia Martinez-Miranda and Winston Damarillo discuss the theme of the OCEAN18 conference in Cebu and masterclass roadshow.


6 high-impact sectors

This will then be followed by masterclasses in Iloilo, Davao, and Manila.

The masterclasses will focus on 6 high-impact sectors identified by the team: Creative Economy, Education, Food, Global Filipino Engagement, Healthcare, and Tourism, said organizer Cecilia Martinez-Miranda.

This Friday, Damarillo said indiepreneurs will learn about business basics that are “foundational” to enterprises.

This Friday’s masterclass in Cebu will have Damarillo, who is also a WEF Young Global Leader, discuss key business fundamentals. Niña Terol of Kick Fire Kitchen will handle a session on design thinking techniques, and Richard Dacalos of Upstart the Game will talk about effective pitching.

At the end of the day, participants will close the master class with a round of benchmark pitches.

Global Filipino

In coming up with the 6 high-impact sectors, Damarillo stressed the importance of engaging the “Global Filipino.”

“We call them OFWs. That is so 1980s because we tend to forget that 10 million Filipinos are no longer in the Philippines and some of them go out to work overseas but a good part of them are Filipinos who have emigrated from the Philippines who still care a lot about the Philippines. And they remit a lot of money,” he said.

“The idea of this particular discussion is how do we look at those Filipinos who are still very connected to the Philippines as an expansion of our market. The Filipinos who are not in the Philippines, they have a lot of buying capability. They would be the most likely to patronize our exports. And they miss the Philippines, they miss our content. they miss our products and I think it’s a huge opportunity for us to address them as a buyer of our services and not just remitter of money,” Damarillo said.

The masterclass workshops are free and organizers will choose 6 teams to represent each high-impact sector and attend the OCEAN18 in November. They will also get mentorship and assistance in getting access to markets.

Filipino way

Damarillo said that in encouraging entrepreneurship, the country should look to build “Filipino startups the Filipino way, not the Silicon Valley way, not the Singapore way.”

“I think the model that would work in the Philippines is more like the examples of Injap Sia of Mang Inasal, from small to big and growing it. An example more like Penshoppe of Bernie Liu, right from tshirt to an empire. More like Jay Aldeguer from tshirts to Island Souvenir,” Damarillo said during the press conference to announce OCEAN18.

Damarillo said that what differentiates OCEAN18 and the masterclasses from other events is that “we’re going grassroots.”

“We wanted to make sure that as many people are touched. Dili lang siya novelty, it impacts our overall economy not just the tech economy,” he added.

OCEAN18 is a collaboration among the Global Shapers Communities of the Philippines, independent initiatives of the World Economic Forum; DevCon Philippines, a nonprofit aimed at promoting IT Pinoy Talent, and Kaya Collaborative, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring, educating, and mobilizing diaspora youth as partners to long-term, locally led social change in the Philippines.

Business Entrepreneurship Tech

Tholons chair: Cebu must embrace, see opportunities in digital disruptions

Cebu needs to improve in the areas of digital credentials and skills to move up to the top 10 in the Super Cities of the World list of Tholons, Inc.

Avinash Vashistha, Tholons chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), said Cebu continues to score low in such areas as open innovation, startup culture, cybersecurity, and digital competitiveness.

A Tholons team computed the average scores of the top three and bottom three of the top 20 in the Super Cities list and measured where Cebu fell within the range.

A panel (from L) composed of Jonathan de Luzuriaga, moderator, and resource persons Cebu City Councilor Joy Augustus Young, Symph CEO Dave Overton, Tholons Chair Avinash Vashistha, and Accenture, Inc. Cebu Delivery Center Lead for Technology Arvin Yason discusses Cebu City’s ranking in Super Cities of the World list.

He said Cebu did not fare well in the following areas: 3.5 against a high of 7.2 in digital credentials and 3.8 against a high of 7.14 in quality of life, citing political, social, natural, and commercial risks. Vashistha was one of the speakers of the 2018 Transformation Summit held today, May 16, at Bai Hotel in Mandaue City.

Digital, talent skills

For digital skills and scale, Cebu was in the 4.6 range against the top average score of 8.12. This category looks at the digital talent and evolution of a particular place, also taking into consideration as well the prevalence of mobile and Internet users and patent grants for technology ideas or products.

“All industry in the future will be technology-enabled. We can’t ignore the impact of digital because it is transforming the way business is done,” Vashistha added.

When Cebu thinks about what it needs to do in the area of digital, it has to look at the examples set by Singapore and Seoul. Tholons ranks the two cities as among the top 25 digitally competitive cities throughout the globe.

Compared against the average high score of 8.9, Cebu’s ranking of 6 for talent skills and quality could do with some improvement, according to Vashistha. Cebu rose to seventh place in the list of best outsourcing sites but fell to 12th place in 2017 when Tholons added new digital categories.

New tech opportunities

2018 Transformation Summit Speaker Avinash Vashistha, Tholons, Inc. chair and CEO, talks about what it takes to be part of the top Super Cities of the World list.

He added that Cebu should also focus on the opportunities instead of threats posed by digital disruptions, citing that trillions of dollars in new technology investments from 2013-2022 will result in the creation of more than 200 million jobs. India and the Philippines currently hold close to 5 million jobs in the IT-BPM industry.

These jobs will come in bulk from three main areas, including robotic process automation, big data analytics, and mobile app testing.

Vashistha said during the summit that digital shifts will also require upskilling and reskilling the industry workforce. Degree programs must also include cultivating the culture of innovation in universities through innovation labs and partnerships with industry stakeholders. Other ways will involve utilizing digital media for Cebu’s branding initiatives and collaborating with a global network of startups through mentorship programs.

The 2018 Transformation Summit is organized by the Cebu IT BPM Organization (CIB.O) in partnership with the Cebu City Government and Sykes. Other sponsors include Accenture, Lexmark, and Cognizant.

Entrepreneurship Tech

4 teams from Cebu in finals of Smart’s innovation competition

Four student teams from Cebu are in the running for the country’s biggest technology competition, the SWEEP (Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program) Innovation and Excellence Awards.

Three teams from the University of San Carlos and one from the University of San Jose Recoletos are among the 10 student teams from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao that would battle it out next week in SWEEP.

The other teams are from Adamson University, Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Aurora State College of Technology, Davao Central College, and Gordon College in Zambales.

SMART Sweep 2018
SWEEP Awards finalists undergo a two-day boot camp so they could polish their entries in time for judging.

The teams will compete for the P300,000 top prize in the final judging to be held on May 11. The second placer will get P200,000, while the third placer will receive P100,000. Schools of the top three teams will each get a digital campus package from Smart Communications and parent company PLDT.

Smart received more than 300 applications for the 14th SWEEP Awards, which has the theme “#LifeLikeNeverBefore: Digital Innovations for a Better Tomorrow.”

Projects that made the cut include an app that could help farmers reach produce buyers directly, an app that could link sports enthusiasts with each other so they could schedule games, and a chatbot that could enable users to control home appliances remotely via a messaging app.

To help the finalists improve their projects before the judging, Smart introduced them to mentors who, over two days, taught them to validate the existence of problems before creating solutions, the importance of getting feedback from peers and potential customers, and the need to adjust their plan of action based on these feedback.

Smart SWEEP 2018 pitching
Students get a taste of what it’s like to pitch proposals before potential investors, during their presentation to SWEEP Awards judges.

The mentors also taught the finalists how to pitch their proposals to judges and potential investors.

Participant Gian Guerrero said the two-day boot camp helped his team create a business model for its project. “What was very hard was the business model because we’re into IT (information technology) and engineering, so we’re not very knowledgeable about it. But the SWEEP Awards experience proved to be a treasure trove of knowledge. It’s fun, more than I expected, and I’m thankful to be part of it,” he said.

The SWEEP Awards was launched in 2004 to provide college students with the platform to create innovative applications that solve consumer pain points. It is an initiative under SWEEP, a long-running collaboration between Smart and the academe which aims to raise the standards of engineering and IT education in the country.

Because of SWEEP, Smart was cited in 2016 by international magazine Fortune as one of 50 companies that have “changed the world.” For more information on SWEEP and the SWEEP Awards, please visit and (Press Release)

Business Entrepreneurship

Cebu Landmasters CEO Joe Soberano is Ernst and Young’s Philippines Industry Entrepreneur of the Year

Cebu Landmasters, Inc. (CLI) chief executive officer Jose Soberano III was awarded “Industry Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst and Young last October 18 at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.

Soberano is one of the 19 outstanding finalists representing enterprises from different industries nationwide chosen by Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) Philippines in its search for the country’s most inspiring entrepreneurs. “Industry Entrepreneur of the Year” is one of the four awards given by EOY Philippines.

EOY Philippines is a program of the SGV Foundation, Inc., with the participation of co-presenters Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Jose Soberano III award
ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR. Cebu Landmasters, Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Jose Soberano III during his awarding as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Top local developer

Soberano was awarded for his remarkable role in the Real Estate industry. He was credited for establishing CLI, which is now one of the top local developers in Visayas and Mindanao, to address the need for quality and affordable housing and later expanded to include residential estates, offices, condominiums, hotels and mixed-use projects.

Soberano is also this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We have worked very hard to put CLI to where it is today and to make an impact on the lives of many Filipinos. This would not have been possible if not for the never-ending support of my family and the CLI employees who are part of my extended family,” said Soberano.

CLI public offering

In the last 14 years, CLI has rolled out fast-selling high-end, mid-market and economic housing real estate developments.

CLI just recently went public at the Philippine Stock Exchange. Its debut last June made them the first Cebu-based real estate developer to ring the bell.

“What inspires me now is to build a company that can last many generations. What further fuels us as a family-oriented company is the goal to become the leading homegrown real estate developer in the Visayas and Mindanao region by 2020,” said Soberano. (Press Release)

Business Entrepreneurship Feature Tech

Among Cebu CEOs, technology solutions have yet to make an impact: survey

Despite innovations in the field of finance, e-commerce, consumer services, transport and logistics, only a third of Cebu entrepreneurs believe that technology should be a business priority.

Results of the PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey showed that only 35 percent of business leaders look at how technology can help in the company’s overall strategic plan.

Less than half or only 48 percent of the 108 Cebu CEOs surveyed by Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines feel threatened by the speed of technological advancements.

PWC Cebu CEO survey

Factors for successful innovation

The sentiments of Cebu businessmen are in contrast to the 80 percent of 2015 Philippine CEO survey respondents who consider technology breakthroughs like robotics, automated supply chain, enterprise solutions, and digital platforms as crucial to business transformation.

A slightly higher number or 50 percent of Cebu CEOs, which PwC Philippines calls Cebu’s next generation business leaders, see the need to continuously innovate to stay relevant for the long term.

The CEOs cited strong visionary leadership, right culture, willingness to challenge norms and take risks, capacity for creativity, and close collaboration with customers as factors for a successful innovation.

PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey
CEO SURVEY FINDINGS. Aldie Garcia, PwC Philippines lead branch operations partner, presents findings of the PwC Cebu 2017 CEO Survey. On stage are Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Melanie Ng and PwC Philippines chairman and senior partner Atty. Alexander Cabrera.

Technology as threat, opportunity

Aldie Garcia, PwC Philippines lead branch operations partner, said that for these CEOs, technology is both a threat and an opportunity.

“Our next generation business leaders believe the first to adopt will be the first to succeed,” he added.

Atty. Alexander Cabrera, PwC Philippines chairman and senior partner, said during a forum to share survey findings that “building a lasting legacy for the organization and the people they serve while growing the business is fundamental to our CEOs’ success.”

Vision for Cebu

Sought for their thoughts on how they envision a new Cebu, CEOs said focus should be on stronger partnerships between government and the private sector (83 percent), better investment incentives (63 percent), and maintaining and growing the local Cebu brands (49 percent).

PwC also found out that close to half of business owners were not originally from Cebu but moved here because of trade and economic opportunities.

Many of them or 77 percent worked for top companies as junior executives (40 percent), management executives (32 percent) , and board executives (10 percent) before going into business for themselves.

Series of CEO surveys

The survey was conducted by PwC Philippines in partnership with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and marked the first of a series to be done on Cebu business leaders.

Melanie Ng, CCCI president, said the undertaking is “envisioned to benchmark the changes in how our CEOs think and innovate.”

She added that the CEO Survey will provide a glimpse into the entrepreneurial journey of business owners that hopefully will inspire more entrepreneurs in the region. Respondents in the first CEO survey represent about 12 percent of CCCI members.

Other CEO Survey findings

Other survey findings showed that:

  • Majority of CEOs started their business in trading but have diversified to manufacturing, retail and wholesale distribution, and consumer and food beverage.
  • Over the next three years, business owners plan to enter the following industries: real estate and construction, tourism, food manufacturing, and consumer retail and technology.
  • Business leaders consider infrastructure, tourism, and technology as industries that need priority.

Survey presentation

PWC Cebu CEO survey
















Business Entrepreneurship Properties

Filipino Homes opens new office in Mandaue City

Real estate portal Filipino Homes tied up with Skyscraper Realty to put up its eighth in Cebu and 22nd office nationwide at JCentre Mall in Mandaue City.

Anthony Leuterio, president and CEO of multi-awarded Leuterio Realty and Brokerage, said Filipino Homes is a one-stop-shop for real estate buyers and sellers.

Although it already provides an extensive online network, Filipino Homes complements this with actual offices where prospective clients can visit and get advice from real estate agents, look at listings, or report problems.

Filipino Homes Mandaue
MANDAUE OFFICE. Skyscraper president and CEO Gaylord Tingzon (left) and Leuterio Realty and Brokerage president and CEO Anthony Leuterio during the opening the Filipino Homes office at JCentre Mall in Mandaue City.

Property portal

“Our goal is to create the biggest property portal, through our website and also in specific places where they can meet with agents and get good advice,” he added.

Skyscraper Realty decided to open a Filipino Homes in Mandaue because it is next to Cebu City in terms of economic development.

“There’s really a lot of activities happening in Mandaue City,” said Skyscraper president and CEO Gaylord Tingzon, citing the 20-hectare joint venture Mandani Bay project by Hongkong Land and Taft Properties and the Gatewalk Central partnership between AboitizLand and Ayala Land.

Leuterio-Skyscraper partnership

The partnership with Filipino Homes allows Skyscraper Realty access to a full listing of properties nationwide.

“The good thing about Filipino Homes is that we can sell properties nationwide because of our more than 20 branches throughout the country. We have more than 50,000 agents helping each other close a sale and assist clients. Even if you’re in Cebu and you have clients in Davao, someone from Filipino Homes Davao will assist them,” he added.

Real estate brokers accredited by Leuterio with 30 to 50 sales agents under them can use the Filipino Homes trademark when they open an office.

Leuterio said he calls them franchise partners and they can use the Filipino Homes logo and network.

Filipino Homes Mandaue
PHYSICAL OFFICE. Although it already provides an extensive online network, Filipino Homes complements this with actual offices where prospective clients can visit and get advice from real estate agents, look at listings, or report problems.

Filipino Homes Mandaue

Filipino Homes Mandaue is also looking for more real estate sales agents.

Tingzon said they already have more than 50 sellers, 20 of which are active, but the plan is to increase the number to 100 sales agents.

He added that they want to build a big team because there are a lot of projects in Mandaue, citing JCentre Mall’s 40-storey tower project, mix-use project of Cebu Landmasters near Oakridge Business Park, walk-up condo in AS Fortuna St. by Primary Homes, and the bestselling Midpoint Residences towers.

Business Entrepreneurship Feature Tech

Smart Padala expands network, offers business opportunities

As it extends the reach of money remittances to far-flung areas, Smart Padala seeks to provide entrepreneurship opportunities to small store owners.

Lawrence Ferrer, vice president and head of domestic business at PayMaya Philippines, called on Cebuanos to put up their own Smart Padala centers and earn extra income in the process.

“We believe that entrepreneurship is a great equalizer. Having a negosyo, no matter how simple, enables families and communities to achieve an improved quality of life,” he added.

Becoming a Smart Padala ka-partner is easy, said head of domestic remittance business Butch Conejos.

Smart Padala Lawrence Ferrer
EARN EXTRA. Lawrence Ferrer, vice president and head of domestic business at PayMaya Philippines, calls on Cebuanos to put up their own Smart Padala centers and earn extra income.

Smart Padala business

“You don’t need sophisticated equipment. Even if you only have a legacy phone and Smart SIM card, you can already start a Smart Padala business,” he cited. A Smart remittance center will also require a small capitalization of between P5,00 to P10,000 and a physical store, such as a sari-sari outlet.

John Lois Inoc, who once dreamt of holding a P1,000 bill in his hand, now has a lucrative Smart Padala center and a travel agency.

On a good month, Inoc said he earns between P30,000 to P50,000 from his remittance center in Talisay City. Inoc has been running a Smart Padala Center for six years and also owns the Jicon Travel and Tours Agency.

Partners needed

The unique thing about the Philippines, said Conejos, is it’s geographically dispersed.

“Napakarami nating isla. (We are made up of several islands.) Many who work in cities have families in the provinces. A big percentage also works abroad. They all send money to their families,” he said, citing this is why remittance centers are needed.

Unlike the big names that dominate the money sending business, the Smart Padala of Paymaya Philippines is an open network and welcomes partners. Paymaya Philippines is the digital financial services unit of PLDT and Smart Communications. The requirements to becoming a Smart Padala center are simple and no processing fees are needed, according to Ferrer.

Smart Padala Cebu Butch Conejos
EASY TO START. Butch Conejos, Smart Padala head of domestic remittance business, says becoming a Smart Padala ka-partner is easy and does not require sophisticated equipment.

Complementary services

He added that aside from remittance revenues, Smart Padala Ka-partners can also earn from complementary services like selling telco load, loading up of PayMaya and Smart Money accounts, and facilitating bills payment.

Many successful entrepreneurs start small but think big, said Carlo Calimon, a Go Negosyo Angelpreneur and a PLDT SME Be The Boss Awardee.

“You do not need to have a large sum of starting capital. All you need to have is a keen eye to spot opportunities and the grit and determination to turn them into negosyo ideas,” added Calimon, a founder of various ventures. The Smart Padala, according to him, is one negosyo that has high potential but is easy to set up and sustain.

Smart Padala Cebu event
SMART PADALA PARTNERS. Officials of Smart Padala, PayMaya and Smart Communications. Inc. with 3 of their partners during the media event in Cebu. In the photo are: (from left) Mervin Wenke of PayMaya, Butch Conejos, Lawrence Ferrer, Smart public affairs senior manager for Vis-Min Atty. Maria Jane C. Paredes, 3 local Smart Padala partners including John Lois Inoc (3rd from right), PLDT SME Be the Boss awardee Carlo Calimon, and Nick Wilwayco.

Pamaskong Padalow

Conejos said they will soon incorporate international remittance in Smart Padala. He added that the Visayas still needs more coverage when it comes to remittance centers, and that they plan to add 1,500 to 2,000 more to the existing 15,000 Smart Padala touch points all over the country

For the Christmas season, Smart Padala introduces an early treat called Pamaskong Padalow to Filipino families and hardworking breadwinners. It allows consumers to enjoy lower remittance fees up to December 2016.

Nick Wilwayco, PR and communications head of Voyager Innovations and Paymaya, said that at first glance, the Smart Padala initiative might seem to be about solving remittances challenges especially in unserved areas. She added that it also about giving people access to the digital economy.

Community Entrepreneurship Tech

Teachers attend Smart-run technopreneurship training program in Cebu

Tagbilaran City in Bohol is gateway to such top tourism attractions as the Chocolate Hills and the white sand beaches of Panglao, but it is difficult and expensive to get around using the tricycles that are the most common means of transport.

Three faculty members of Holy Name University in Tagbilaran proposed an innovative solution to this mobility challenge – a localized booking system for tricycles – during the three-day SWEEPx: Technopreneurship Training for Teachers initiated by mobile leader Smart Communications.

The training, the third leg of which was recently held at the University of Cebu Banilad Campus, aims to inspire teachers to promote technology entrepreneurship among their students so the latter could use their academic learnings to solve problems in their communities.

The previous sessions were held in Cabanatuan and Davao. SWEEP is the longest-running collaboration between Smart and the academe which aims to raise the standards of engineering and IT education in the country.

Technopreneurship skills

The SWEEPx training taught participants the process of identifying a problem and solving it from a user’s perspective, and connected these skills with such entrepreneurship values as getting funding for and marketing their product.

“Technopreneurship is not just about learning how to do business to make a profit. It is also understanding the needs of the market. From the training, I learned practical business skills and strategic applications that I can impart to my students,” said Eduardo P. Mendoza Jr. of the University of San Carlos IT Department.

Several universities in Cebu and one each in the cities of Bacolod and Tagbilaran were represented in the technopreneurship seminar by faculty from their respective IT, Engineering, or Business Administration departments.

SWEEPx: Technopreneurship Training Cebu
TECHNOPRENEURSHIP TRAINING. Teachers from Cebu, Tagbilaran, and Bacolod complete a 3-day SWEEPx: Technopreneurship Training for Teachers initiated by mobile leader Smart Communications in Cebu. The training was held at the University of Cebu Banilad Campus. (Photo: Smart Communications)

Pitching workshop

SWEEPx participants underwent a pitching workshop handled by Tudlo Innovations Solutions, Inc. managing director Vince Loremia. He said his technology business that grew out of the need for emergency and disaster response solutions “started with what you had two days ago — an idea.”

From his pitching experience with investors, Loremia said he learned it is always best to start with a story than to present figures. He added that they should also be aware of the most common things that tech startup founders miss out on when talking to investors, such as demonstrating an understanding of the market, clearly presenting revenue projections, and showing a plan to mitigate big risks.

User experience

University of Cebu – Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue Campus faculty member Teodoro A. Avergonzad Jr. said one important thing he learned from the training was understanding the user experience or UX process and its role in creating great products.

Phil Smithson, On Off Group director, handled the training on the use of the UX process and its role in the creation of great products and having these tested with the people who will use them. The Dream Project founder Prim Paypon talked about how to identify social pains and problems.

For more information on SWEEP, please visit (Press Release)

Business Entrepreneurship

DTI brings integrated services to small businesses in Negosyo, Konsyumer caravan

Micro to medium enterprises and would-be entrepreneurs get an overview of the different services of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) during the three-day Negosyo, Konsyumer at Iba Pa caravan in Cebu from June 9-11, 2016.

The three-day event aims to equip micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as those who aspire to start their own business with additional learning on such topics as food safety, e-commerce, intellectual property, financing, and global markets, said DTI Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr.

DTI Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr.
MORE EFFECTIVE. DTI Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. says they wanted to put “together all services and products of DTI and make them more effective for MSMEs.” (Photo: Marlen Limpag)

“Early this year, we decided to put together all services and products of DTI and make them more effective for MSMEs,” he said during the opening of the event in Cebu on Thursday, adding that those who come to the caravan can access a range of information–from the basic requirements for starting a business to accessing markets.

DTI products, services

Cristobal added that aside from raising awareness on DTI activities, the Negosyo, Konsyumer at Iba Pa event allows the agency to bring its partners together and provides an opportunity for calibrating and synchronizing its different services.

In case of access to financing, which is the main challenge for small businesses, DTI has included the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) in the caravan. SB Corp. caters to the segment that cannot yet be served by banks, which require collaterals for business loans.

Gov. Hilario Davide III
CAPITOL SUPPORT. Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III says the facility is an excellent venue for the development of local enterprises. He said the province is supportive of businesses and has put up an investment promotions center. (Photo: Marlen Limpag)

SB Corp. president and chief executive officer Bartholomew Brillo L. Reynes said the state-owned financial institution has loaned out P600 million of its P2 billion portfolio. In Cebu, he added, they’ve provided loans to poultry businesses in Bantayan hard hit by super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Negosyo, Konsyumer caravan

There will be trainings and simultaneous sessions up to Saturday, June 11, and booths where interested participants can have personalized consultation with experts, said DTI Central Visayas Regional Director Aster C. Caberte.

Breakout workshops set for tomorrow, Friday, include expanding businesses through e-commerce, online marketing, food safety, intellectual property rights and capability building. On Saturday, participants can pick from the following topics: effective business branding, integrating into the global market, and the Slingshot program for startups and innovators.

The maker trainings happening on Friday and Saturday will tackle basic digital fabrication technology and material manipulation as well as design modeling using state-of-the-art fabrication equipment at the newly launched FabLab in UP Cebu. The open access FabLab has a 3D printer, laser cutter, printer and cutter, desktop vinyl cutter, CNC router (shopbot), and small CNC Benchtop milling machine. DTI also launched on Thursday, June 18, the Negosyo Center at UP Cebu that includes a co-working space and training room. DTI said it will come out with the policies for the use of these shared services soon.

DTI Negosyo Center Cebu
NEGOSYO CENTER. The Negosyo Center at UP Cebu includes a co-working space and training room. (Photo: Marlen Limpag)
Entrepreneurship Tech

Kimstore brings trendiest gadgets to tech-savvy Filipinos

Kim Lato was an eighteen-year-old student at the De La Salle University-Manila in 2006 when she toyed with the idea of setting up an online store. Despite the rising popularity of online shops, particularly in the United States, the Philippines only had a few then.

Lato saw an opportunity to earn extra cash while working on her marketing degree. She knew the timing would be perfect given Filipinos’ growing penchant for gadgets, and very few competitors in the online space.

“It was during the peak of when I thought selling gadgets online would be a great idea. I already have the selling channel. I’ve always had a strong interest in gadgets so entering the tech industry was the most natural thing for me to do,” she explained.

After nine years and more than 673,000 Facebook likes, Kimstore has become an online powerhouse. Lato describes Kimstore as one of the true pioneers of e-commerce in the country. She emphasized that her company’s growth can be attributed to its mission: To make advanced mobile electronics technologies accessible to Filipinos by providing pro-consumer products and services.

With new products coming out at a dizzying pace, Kimstore constantly adds new merchandise to its website and Facebook page ranging from mobile phones, laptops, cameras, gaming consoles, tablet PCs, and different accessories and peripherals.

Bozz Awardee for Kimstore founder

At just twenty-seven years old, Lato was awarded Boss for E-Commerce Award at the first-ever Smart SME Nation Bozz Awards held October 28 at the Palace Pool Club, Bonifacio Global City.

The Smart SME Nation Bozz Awards recognizes the new breed of digital movers and shakers who have pioneered entrepreneurial innovation through technology.

The other awardees are: Carlo Calimon of MobKard, Boss for Mobile Readiness; Kristine Reyes-Lopez of Messy Bessy, Boss for Social Responsibility; Jason Magbanua, Boss for Social Media; and Chino Atilano of Timefree Innovations, Boss for Customer Service.

Kimstore Bozz awards
BOSS FOR E-COMMERCE. Kim Lato (2nd from left) bested three other finalists for the Boss for e-Commerce award at the first-ever Bozz Awards. With her in photo during the awarding are, from left, PLDT First Vice President and Head of SME Business Kat Luna-Abelarde, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, PLDT EVP and Head of Enterprise Eric R. Alberto, and IdeaSpace Foundation president and founder Earl Martin Valencia.


Online versus brick-and-mortar

At the start, consumers were apprehensive of shopping online, and Lato had to do a lot of convincing that Kimstore is an online shop they can trust and rely on.

“At that time, online businesses were not perceived as a legitimate option to buy products and services from. People still believed it is better buying at physical stores even when they can get the same product at a cheaper price online,” she explained.

“To overcome this challenge, I offered them a 15-day-money-back guarantee in the impossible occurrence that we sell a counterfeit gadget. To top that, we also provided very hands-on customer service.”

Convenience of online shopping

Purchasing gadgets used to be complicated and time consuming. Now, everything can be bought online.

“You can conveniently order your gadgets online and wait for the items to arrive on your doorstep, hassle-free! We also service customers far from the city and constantly look for items not readily available to them,” Lato said.

Kimstore offers its customers different payment options—using their credit cards, payment at a designated bank or pawnshop, paying the Kimstore representative during a meetup, or payment upon courier delivery.

Kimstore FB
One of the early designs of Kimstore’s Facebook page.


Increasing profits via digital technology

Kimstore saves a lot on overhead expenses since it doesn’t have to invest heavily on store space, employees, maintenance, and other operating costs. Instead, it invested on a website, strong social media presence, and other online platforms to showcase its products. It also has fewer employees compared to brick-and-mortar stores.

“Technology also enables us to maintain a tremendous amount of historical data economically, and employees benefit from immediate access to the documents they need,” Lato said.

“Digital marketing and advertising campaigns through social media also pushed profitability because of the wider reach. It is more cost efficient, and easier to monitor. We use digital media to make people aware of Kimstore and to entice them to purchase our products and services.”

Caring for customers

Making customers happy makes good business whether one is online or brick-and-mortar.

“I have learned that exceptional customer service is key to success. We’ve continuously improved, learning from our mistakes along the way,” said Lato.

She attests that people will keep coming back and even recommend you if you have given them a happy and memorable shopping experience.

To understand how customers behave, she makes it a habit to stay updated with market trends, and customers’ wants and needs.

“Do research, study the market, and provide great customer service. There will be challenges along the way, and you should persevere to overcome these. Stay focused on your goals and in time you’ll see your business flourish!” (Press Release)

Entrepreneurship Tech

Cebu startup cooks up Chef On Demand gourmet food service

FOR the price of a fast food combo, workers at the Cebu IT Park and Cebu Business Park can order a gourmet meal for lunch or late dinner prepared by some of Cebu’s top chefs and delivered to their building’s lobby.

Chef On Demand, which has been operating for just six weeks, is a Cebu-based tech startup that sells and delivers gourmet meals through a website and soon, via an app. It currently operates in Cebu IT Park and the Cebu Business Park, the centers of operation for Cebu’s thriving business process management industry. They accept orders and deliver them twice a day, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., from Mondays to Fridays.

Chef On Demand is able to sell these meals because it pre-orders a number of meals daily from chefs, who prepare it during their kitchen’s downtime: the hours when their restaurants still do not have customers and they and their staff have nothing to do.

CO-FOUNDERS (from left) Jed Hatamosa, Bryan Yap, and Cacho Menguito are heading to Tech In Asia Jakarta 2015 along with other members of the team. (Taken from Bryan Yap's Facebook post)
CO-FOUNDERS (from left) Jed Hatamosa, Bryan Yap, and Cacho Menguito are heading to Tech In Asia Jakarta 2015 along with other members of the team. (Taken from Bryan Yap’s Facebook post)


Like Uber for chefs

“Before 10 a.m., the kitchen is not doing anything,” tech entrepreneur and Chef On Demand co-founder Bryan Yap said in an interview. Their service allows chefs to be productive in these downtimes and open new potential markets, Yap said.

“It’s like Uber for chefs,” said Yap, referring to the company that jumpstarted the shared economy idea. He said Chef On Demand is “all about promoting the chef.” They currently have three featured chefs—Dennis Uy of Mexi Mama fame, Edgar Bulanon of Nonki and Vance Borja of Chop Chop Food Centre. Yap is in talks with more chefs to sign them up to the service.

Yap said that aside from telling the stories of their chefs, they have also become another outlet for them. Chefs also get the chance to try new things by working with Chef On Demand, citing as example Uy, who can now prepare food other than the Mexican cuisine available in his restaurant.

Order, delivery

The service is straightforward: a customer orders a meal through the website at and it is then delivered within 20 minutes to their office building’s lobby. By delivering only to the lobby, Chef On Demand is able to control costs and delivery times as well as deal with issues on office entry, with BPM offices known for their strict security protocols.

The menu ranges from a Kansas Style Chicken BBQ with buttered vegetables and Cajun rice for P99 by Uy to a Chicken Satay and Sambal Fried Rice meal for 109 by Borja to a Chicken Teriyaki Bento for P109 by Bulanon. There are currently 14 meal choices available on the site. Yap said they want to change the menu every two to three weeks.

Yap said that based on reviews and comments they got on Facebook, their customers are happy with the food they are delivering.

Yap, who said he has gone through “many failures,” applied lessons he learned from previous businesses as well as startup events and conferences in building Chef On Demand with his partners. They started with a barebones system and did extensive validation: offering free food in exchange for ordering it through their MVP or minimum viable product website and then later offering 50 percent discount in exchange for ordering it via the website and then picking it up at the lobby.

MENU. Chef On Demand offers gourmet meals prepared by some of Cebu's top chefs.
MENU. Chef On Demand offers gourmet meals prepared by some of Cebu’s top chefs.


Expansion plans

Since Chef On Demand operates in building clusters, they are able to deliver at no minimum order. From serving meals for office workers, they are also now starting to deliver food for corporate meetings.

Yap said they started in Cebu, which he described as a “really tough market,” but will soon expand in Manila and other parts of the country. He also plans to go to school clusters and residential areas next. He also dreams of expanding outside the country.

Yap said they are happy with the startup’s traction in its six weeks of operation. They have signed up about 1,500 customers with a daily delivery of 150 to 180 meals and growing by the day. He said that with an estimated population of 46,000 in the IT Park and 20,000 in Cebu Business Park, they have a big potential market.

On Nov. 11 and 12, Chef On Demand will represent the Philippines in the Tech in Asia Jakarta 2015 conference after winning the Philippine leg. Yap said he never expected to win and joined merely for the exposure. But with their victory, the team will be joining the Jakarta event with free air fare and accommodation. It will offer a bigger stage for the Cebu team to serve up their offering: gourmet food for the shared economy generation.

Brand Partnership Entrepreneurship

Family Enterprise Excellence Conference in Cebu to tackle challenges facing family businesses

The Premier Family Business Consulting Inc. (PFBC), the only family enterprise consulting firm in Southeast Asia, is inviting family businesses, practitioners, and stakeholders to join a conference that will tackle the challenges facing family businesses.

Now in its third year, the Family Enterprise Excellence Conference (FEEC) will be held on Oct. 26 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City. With the theme “United, we unite families in business,” the one-day event will not only feature talks but also serve as an occasion for sharing experiences and best practices among family businesses as well as for networking.

International expert Dr. Dennis Jaffe of the US-based Family Firm Institute will lecture on the topic “Bridging the Gap of the Senior and Younger Generation” to address the issue of nurturing effective working relations between generations of a family business.

FAMILY BUSINESS. A seminar on family business by Premier Family Business Consulting. (From the official company website)
FAMILY BUSINESS. A seminar on family business by Premier Family Business Consulting. (From the official company website)


Family unity

Considered one of the architects of family enterprise consulting as a field, Jaffe has taught at Hult University in Dubai and is on the Advisory Board of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Stetson University. He has also served on the Boards of the World Business Academy and Saybrook University.

Renowned inspirational speaker Francis Kong will give a talk on “The Value of Family Unity and Parenting” to emphasize their role as the main drivers in family business perpetuation.

Engineer Leonora Salvane of GT Cosmetics and Edward Hayco of the Port Restaurant will lead a discussion on the “Founder’s Challenge” in family businesses. Charles Ong of Innoland and Edmun Liu will tackle the “Second Gen Challenge” in running the business together with the founder.

Family Constitution

Assets and ownership expert Atty. Jim Lopez will talk on the great value of “The Family Constitution” as well as its limitations. Edward “Wowie” Roguel of the Punongbayan & Araullo will give a presentation on “Inescapable Taxation Challenges for Families in Business” while Dr. Cecilio Pedro of Happee Toothpaste and Lamoiyan Industries will be talking on “Learning from an Experienced Successful Family Business.”

Fr. Tony Salas SVD, who is Vice-President for Academic Affairs of the University of San Carlos, will also give a talk on the role and impact of families in business on the Church and society. There will also be talks on the role and impact of “Non-Family Executives” and “Joint Ventures.”

The whole day conference will be capped with synthesis by Jacob Cabochan of Premier Family Business Group and former Acting Director of Ateneo Family Business Center. For advanced registration and inquiries, call (032) 266-2831, (032)263-3401, (032)401-2939 or visit the website (Press Release)

Business Entrepreneurship

RAFI Micro-finance opens 5 more branches to serve more mothers

To serve more client nanays, The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Micro-finance has opened five more branches in Bohol, Cebu, and Leyte, bringing the total number of branches to 23.

Last June 25, it inaugurated its Tagbilaran City, Bohol branch, which is located at Door 2, Seaview Apartment, CPG East, Bool District; followed by the opening of its Square One Commercial Complex, Tipolo, Mandaue City, Cebu branch on June 29; the Travelers Inn, Valladolid, Carcar City, Cebu branch on July 2; the Proper Damolog, Sogod, Cebu branch on August 4; and the Taft Street, Central 1, Poblacion, Palompon, Leyte branch on August 20.

Elevating lives

“True to RAFI’s promise of elevating lives, RAFI Micro-finance has committed to provide responsive and value-based micro-finance services to the communities, especially to poor entrepreneurs,” said Jonar Dorado, head of the RAFI Micro-finance Business Development Unit, on the opening of the Tagbilaran branch.

“We are currently serving over 46,000 families in the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, and Leyte, and determined to reach out to 120,000 families in the next three years, by expanding our operations through the opening of branches within and beyond the areas we currently cover,” he said.

RAFI Micro-finance aims to provide capital to nanay business entrepreneurs and to those wanting to establish their own small economic ventures as a way to empower them as co-pillars of their respective families. Aside from loans, it also provide micro-insurance seminars, business trainings, consultancy, medical missions, and other services.

Micro-finance program

Hazel Guille, one of those who attended the Carcar branch opening, was ecstatic that RAFI Micro-finance already has a branch near her.

“Nalipay kaayo ko ug nagpasalamat nga aduna nay branch nga duol diri sa Carcar kay sa una muadto pa ko sa Argao branch,” she said.

RAFI Micro-finance is a program under the Micro-finance & Entrepreneurship focus area of RAFI. It provides financial resources and know-how to women micro-entrepreneurs to nurture financial independence and entrepreneurship. Other focus areas of RAFI are Integrated Development, Culture & Heritage, Leadership & Citizenship, and Education. (Press Release)