Taking off from the highly successful Startup Weekend Manila last October 2011, leading telecommunications company Globe Telecom is setting up a first-in-the-Philippines incubator focused on helping aspiring technopreneurs launch their own businesses.
This is a unique way of reaching out to tech startup communities and getting them off to a faster start, and a better trajectory. While this project has access to the “big company” resources that an enterprise like Globe would have, it has an independent mandate and the soft touch grassroots community focus necessary for supporting the Philippines’ bourgeoning startup ecosystem. The Globe incubator will partner with aspiring technopreneurs by building an end-to-end support system that marries the ‘hardware’ of big companies with the ‘software’ of mentorship and community partnership.
Startups supported by the Globe incubator have the advantage of access to various platforms of Globe which are usually open only to large established companies. They could qualify for seed capital to help them launch their company faster; and introductions to partner companies within the Globe, Singtel and Ayala networks here and abroad to help them scale bigger. The startups would get education and training programs tailored to their needs, one-on-one mentorship from experts in various fields, and peer support from the local startup community.
Minette B. Navarrete, Head of Globe New Business Group said that this project will provide the startups with the efficient environment and tools needed to build and test, seed funding to enable focus on execution, a startup development program with mentor and community feedback, and support for integrating into business networks.
She noted that while many Filipinos have very good breakthrough ideas for their own independent businesses, and the capability to make these scale efficiently through ICT, web and mobile applications, a lot of them do not have the necessary resources to pursue their ambition.
“There are people with the aptitude and the desire to become entrepreneurs, but they face many hurdles to giving up their day jobs. Even if they did launch their business, they may not have the training, capital, and business network to enable their startup to scale. Incubation makes resources available to those who need them. But unlike many corporate incubators, the Globe incubator does not have profit or capital gain targets: it’s not just about the money! The Globe incubator will offer seed funding, yes, but cash is only part of the story. We will make facilities available, offer education and mentorship, and introduce entrepreneurs to the people and companies who can help them expand and succeed,” she said.
Navarrete pointed out that the Globe incubator will provide enough funding for aspiring entrepreneurs to quit their jobs and focus on starting up the business, with incubation programs lasting from three months to one year before graduation, and giving other technopreneurs a chance to avail of the same support and experience. If the startups needed more strategic or financial support, the Globe incubator would be open to other strategic or financial partners participating.
Given the nature of the founders and backers, Navarrete said that the startups can engage in developing new ICT applications, websites, and other tech-related undertakings. They could equally be traditional businesses which would use technology to create a better customer experience, improve operating efficiencies or expand their reach.
Tech incubators have been experiencing a recent resurgence around the world. Whilst there is funding available for good ideas, the most successful incubators have learnt from the painful lessons of the dotcom bubble bursting: the old “fire-and-forget” model of simply handing out seed capital and providing facilities is not sufficient; mentoring programs, intensive courses on how to launch and sustain a successful business, and business network introductions are equally essential to kickstarting the dreams of aspiring technopreneurs.