Group seeks “serial” entrepreneurs in the Philippines #startup

Pollenizer @ Kickstart is looking for Philippine-based startups focused on solving specific problems.

The announcement was made on Pollenizer’s website:

Pollenizer @ Kickstart provides our team with a well researched problem or idea space, a built-in funding runway, and a structured incubation process. Team members could be corporate employees looking for more autonomy and freedom to experiment, entrepreneurs looking to plug into a support system and pre-defined project, or people who have moved between both environments.

The group says qualified startup companies will get equity stake, salary for monthly expenses and mentorship from Kickstart Ventures and Pollenizer.

Funding? At least one year’s worth of capital, according to the site. After this period, the startup company will need to chase for more funding with support from the group. These startups will operate in the Philippines.

The group is looking at funding startups engaged in the following “problem areas:”

1. Real Estate Listings – Real Estate has been a Web 1.0 gold mine in Southeast Asia, with Property Guru netting $60M in funding while dominating in SG and ID and iProperty getting listed while serving the Malaysian market. Philippines still lacks a dominant player. Why do current Ph sites fall short and how can we fix it?

2. Vertical E Commerce – The past two years have seen an explosion in e-commerce activity across Southeast Asia, thanks in large part to Rocket Internet’s well-funded and concerted effort at customer education cum acquisition. With the customer base growing, markets seemed poised for new players focusing on specific verticals such as diapers, groceries, eyeglasses and so on. Which vertical is poised to take off in PH and why?

3. Horizontal E Commerce – The infrastructure supporting e-commerce across Southeast Asia is underdeveloped and ill suited to support the coming e-commerce explosion. The time could be ripe for new entrants in logistics, warehousing and other key services. Or perhaps something more innovative like Uber for motorbike delivery or Southeast Asian buffer boxes?

4. Remittance – OFWs send billions back to the Philippines every year, much of it flowing through antiquated networks with high friction and service charges. Internal remittances are an even bigger market as money flows from the large cities out. Mobile technology promises a better user experience and lower costs but it must overcome many challenges around getting cash into the system and ensuring user access across a huge array of devices. Is there a space for a mobile remittance solution that solve these problems and can gain mass adoption?

5. Labor Cost Arbitrage – Sites like, Elance, and 99 Designs have established a robust market for labor cost arbitrage, with demand sourced in high income markets and supply provided in countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. We wonder if there’s an opportunity for a local player in this domain? What new approaches or niches could be established to increase adoption in this fast growing sector?

6. OFW Placement – In a reverse mirror of the remittance market, the millions of Filipinos who work abroad are mostly placed via antiquated methods that privilege services over technology and extract fees that can border on exploitative. Can web and mobile technology be used to disintermediate the agencies, connecting potential employers and employees directly?

7. Education –  Educational technology is a booming sector across the world, but adoption in developing markets has been slow due to lack of local solutions and issues around device and data access. Which educational areas are ripe for disruption in the Philippines? Is it supplemental tutoring for high income families, literacy programs for young children delivered through schools, marketplaces for educational service providers, online tutoring for the US market? Or something else entirely?

8. Health Care – Technology is changing the face of health care around the world. Developing markets offer up innumerable opportunities in this space, from portals facilitating medical tourism to sites to connect patients and doctors to Yelp-style interfaces for rating health provider performance. Which solution is worth pursuing in the near term?


Letting go…of the ‘junk’

Old Magazines and booksFor the past few days, I’ve been rummaging through my “hoard.” Me and wife have decided to start giving or throwing away excess stuff in our cramped apartment. And to our surprise, we’ve been keeping a lot! Papers, clothes, magazines, books and other stuff stashed away in our little storeroom.

It’s hard letting go of these “collections” but since I only started holding on to them again after I dug them up from the storeroom, they’re not worth keeping. Let go! Now that I have friends and family willing to adopt them, I think this is good.

I hope to keep things at a bare minimum, and only use what I need. I stopped (and I will consciously limit) buying books and magazines. Clothes, they go after a year or less. Cassette tapes, CDs, er, do I still play CDs, VCDs, and DVDs? Everything is in a hard disk or the digital cloud now. And also I just dumped all business cards I’ve “collected” for more than 10 years!!! (Who the hell is collecting these stuff?!). And, I found reams and reams of used paper, which were remnants of press releases and notes that I took while I was still a budding newspaper and online reporter for a news website. (I also junked all my newspaper clippings and copies of old publications I wrote for). Boy, do I take a lot of notes. But I kept the “love letters” and the older photos still printed on paper.

Old casette tapesIn the next two days, our little apartment will be spic and span, and it will remain that way. Makes our lives simple, less cramped and less messy. So when it’s time to move, it will be easy.

My wife and I are now joking ourselves how much hoarding we’ve done over the years, as we remember a reality show on TV that shows hoarding as a psychological problem for Americans. If you want to keep your life simple, make it so. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need. Less is more. And with less junk, you will have less worries.

This is fun and therapeutic (a bit nostalgic sometimes).



Your coverage of the Manila flooding (culled from various sources)

2012 List

You usually start a 2012 list at the start of the year. But considering that I now rarely have time to sit down and write for this blog, am going to do this now.

Okay, what has happened in 2011? A lot. Last year was full of life lessons. It was a roller coaster ride that ended with a high note in December. But what kept me going is my family who is always there to remind me that they are the reason why we work so hard. As a father to two amazing daughters (one is a geek, the other is just like her mother :-)), you need to find ways to keep their attention from straying. Not to say that they are often distracted by computer games. They are quite a handful sometimes. But as my friends say, keep them close now. Next time, they will feel awkward spending time with you as they grow older.

Work in 2011 was amazingly difficult. But the lessons you learn from doing new stuff is something very valuable. Of course, you’ve seen good people come and go. But many have become good friends–and in this world of social networks–it’s not hard missing them.

Now, 2012. I believe this year is a turning point for me. A lot has changed–my life, my work, my interests. I still get to play my guitar from time to time. But I also have been spending Saturdays teaching students about what I do. (Most of the lessons I share, I draw it from experience). Waking up early in the morning to give young minds a piece of your mind is no cakewalk. But this offers an opportunity for me to reflect on what I have done, where I have been, and where I am now. From that, you have better appreciation of your life.

Back to 2012 and my list. So here we go. These are statements I have written in my whiteboard at work and I’m keeping them close and handy.

1. Always provide context. As my current mentor and boss would often tell me, you have to over communicate. Not everyone will be able to get your message in one go. If it needs be, repetition is key to getting understood. It is also the best tool in teaching and learning. That’s why most musicians would say the key to being best at your craft is practice, practice, and practice.

2. Own it. Don’t hesitate. Own it. Make a decision. If it’s a bad one, then apologize. Try again. It’s okay to make mistakes. What’s more important is you learn from them. So at the start of the year, the word “post-mortem” is right up there.

3. Be Paranoid. Remember this saying, “Only the Paranoids Survive.” That’s an Intel mantra that remains true especially in a world that is fast-changing. But don’t get me wrong. You also have to pace yourself. But always keep in mind, that complacency will bring you nothing but trouble.

4. Exercise, exercise, exercise. I couldn’t just stress that enough. Yesterday, I just realized that the old folks that I knew when I was a child are dying one by one. Seems morbid, but yes, that’s gonna happen soon if you don’t take care of your health.

5. Travel with the family. We have not been traveling so much last year. So this year, we’re finally going to do it more, even it only involves driving to a nearby park or museum.

6. Focus. I tend to juggle a lot of things in the air. So this year, I will focus on accomplishing a few great things. I have 3 in mind. And I won’t stop until I become great at it. That’s how I will rock and roll.

7. Giveaway books. Yes, I have accumulated a lot. I need to give them away soon. E-readers were invented to keep the trees.

8. Look for a bigger place. Convenience has its disadvantages. Yes, I’m nearer my workplace but I’m living in a cramped apartment. My home which is by far spacious, I sorely miss.

9. Save and get rid of liabilities. Yes, this is quite simple, but not an easy task. First target: credit card expenses should be at a low. Spend cash than getting credits. Save the credits for bigger expenses. (Read: don’t buy too many apps).

10. Be closer to my creator. I have been away too long.




Do you get enough breaks in a year? Well, not enough 🙂 But life is short, and you have to cherish every moment of it.