Incubator-investment firm Kickstart Ventures, Inc., has chosen ten startups in the country to receive funding, training, mentoring, and business network access to help accelerate the startups’ respective growth plans.
Kickstart Ventures, led by its president, Minette B. Navarrete, hosted recently a gathering for the founders of its inaugural batch of portfolio companies. The ten startups focus on digital technology businesses and digital technology builds on traditional sectors such as education, the legal profession and retail. They reflect Kickstart’s preference for infra-light web and mobile software, applications and/or services. The teams should also operate in the Philippines although they can be incorporated elsewhere and can consist of non-Filipinos.
“The Philippines is showing a new economic dynamism, attention to governance, and clarity about how the public and private sectors can drive things forward. Kickstart is taking concrete action to make these fundamentals a launchpad for greater innovation at the grassroots community level,” Navarette said. “By making these investments, we literally put our money where our mouth is: providing startup capital, as well as organizing training programs, regular mentorship, and business introductions to bring startups and progressive corporates together.”
The investees are called “Kickstars” which are startups funded by Kickstart, and “Garageheads” which refers to participants in the Launchgarage accelerator program — a partnership between Kickstart and web engineering firm Proudcloud.
The investees include AVA (www.AVA.ph), a premiere online shopping site for well-loved brands and experiences; Kalibrr (www.kalibrr.com) which offers online learning that gets one a job; ZAP (www.ZAP.com.ph), a web and mobile retail promotions and loyalty program for brick-and-mortar merchants; Lifebit (www.lifebit.com), a web and mobile journal for urbanites; Tripid (www.tripid.ph); a carpooling platform and community; Bagosphere (www.bagosphere.com) which runs a training program for rural youth aspiring to get hired by BPOs that often locate in provincial cities to take advantage of real estate availability and affordability; Apptivate (www.apptivate.co), an apps purchase service for non-credit card owners; Work Inspire (www.workinspire.com), an email and document organization system for better project management; Tripsiders (www.tripsiders.com), a Cebu-based local itinerary creation and booking engine with insider community content; and My Legal Whiz (www.mylegalwhiz.com), a web and mobile resource for legal research.
Kickstars and Garageheads receive funding, mentoring, training, access to the resources of Kickstart and its mother company, GlobeTelecom, as well as business introductions as support from Kickstart. But because they are at different stages of development, slightly different programs are offered for them.
Kickstart has also partnered with various organizations to give the investees a headstart. Globe provides each investee with Php 2 million mobile ad credits as well as GCASH integration; Amazon Web Services grants them with US$1,000 credits and technical training to optimize their performance; and ZenDesk makes available free Customer Service support for 12 months worth $3,450.
Navarrete envisions a faster start and a better trajectory for the portfolio companies. “Today, the need is in building a full support system for founders and aspiring technopreneurs — Kickstart does that through a combination of actual investment activity, community networking events, and evangelizing amongst corporates. These current investments are at seed/early stage, but Kickstart is also able to do Series ‘A’ investments, when the time comes. We can do that by ourselves, or bring in partners like SingTel, Innov8 and others. That way, startups get a longer runway for growth.”