MANILA, Philippines ? For the past six years, Steve Uy has been busy running his two home care facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
But Uy found time to attend BizTechDay, a two-day business strategy and technical conference held recently for budding entrepreneurs.
?It?s a darn good place to be. I?m learning quite a bit because I?m old,? said the Filipino businessman, adding he needed to keep up to date (with the latest business trends and developments) to stay in business.
He and his wife are also busy on a new business venture, Touch of Patch, a company they set up six months ago that provides acupuncture patches without the use of needles.
Uy surely valued the importance of the event . He attended all the sessions on the first day which featured Michael Gerber?s (Founder of E-Myth Worldwide) session, another one on Using Email Marketing Campaign to Build Your Database and Close Sales, a third session on How to Make the Stimulus Program Work for You, and the fourth session on How to Build Your Online Community.?
Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, and other successful entrepreneurs spoke and held sessions at the two-day event, which attracted 900 people this year and 550 last year.
Another husband-and-wife business team, Amerind and Althea Maria Tan, attended the event for the same reasons as the Uys have. They are co-founders of webagentspro, a virtual employment agency. Unlike most of the business owners present, however, the Tans? staff is based in the Philippines, not in the US.
The Tans? company outsources its talent of business and technical professionals for US clients. ?We focus on web support, search engine optimization, and social media marketing,? said Amerind.
But why hire Filipinos living outside the US as his talent pool? After his recent trip to the Philippines, Amerind realized that the Philippines was becoming a popular source of business professionals among US-based call centers.
?I realized that RP has really taken over India with respect to customer service or business process outsourcing. When you call a credit card company, you get routed to India and a few (sic) in the States. But a few companies are now using customer support in the Philippines because of the Filipinos? command of English and the cost difference. It?s a lot cheaper. Filipino employees are well versed in English. The language barrier has nothing to do with proficiency, it?s just pronunciation or commonly used phrases. What we do is screen for proper English so that there?s no barrier that the client has to overcome,? said Tan.
A utility corporation, a home design specialist, a business development consultation firm, a business women support agency, a bar code software firm, and an online trademark search firm were just some of the startup firms which attended BizTechDay.
One startup walked away with a free pass to media exposure ? an entrepreneur?s dream come true. Ben Lewis, Founder of Engage As You Age, won the Big Success Business Pitch Contest.
Lewis was one of three finalists whose live pitch snatched the Grand Prize ? a 30-minute interview with CBS 5, a local television news station.
The San Francisco-based company partners its specialists with home-based senior citizens who share similar interests to foster social interaction and encourage companionship.
Engage As You Age won because ?He [Lewis] was eloquent, quietly confident, and knew his business well. He had a great vision and positively contributed to his community,? according to Jinni Rooney, BizTechDay?s Partnership Manager.
INQUIRER.net, the news website of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and one of the 22 exhibitors in the conference, gave attendees an opportunity to garner free publicity as well.
Fellow first time exhibitor Wells Fargo Bank said they see credit card opportunities with certain small businesses and non-profit groups. ?Because of the economy, some industries are better for us such as restaurants, retail stores and especially automotive repair shops. They?ve definitely been on the rise,? said Alex Gurov of Wells Fargo Merchant Services.
Overall the conference was about creating opportunities regardless of the economic climate.
Matthew Jordan, Enterprise Sales Manager for Skype, was a panelist for the How to Run Your Business or Non-profit on the Cheap forum. Skype is an online communications software program with over 500 million regular users. The company recently doubled its efforts on their new Skype For Business program after research showed that 35 percent used Skype for their business communications.
Jordan?s advice to business owners include:
Make use of free resources such as free WIFI in the metro areas that allow you access to Google applications or Skype.
Take advantage of e-Bay or Paypal as resources to buy used gear, something we hit upon in our panel.
Get a paying customer and serve that customer. ?All the other stuff ? have your advisers manage those areas. [It?s the] ability to offload what you don?t excel in and instead do what you love most.?
That?s the kind of focused and relevant talk that BizTechDay co-founder Edith Yeung wanted to harness and share with the business community ? techies and non-techies alike.
Yeung herself is a successful entrepreneur in the making. She left the corporate world two years ago. Her second company, Clue Market, is a marketing firm tailored for small businesses.
Yeung says last year?s conference focused on social networking such as Facebook and LinkedIN. ?This year was a little bit different due to the economic environment. Everyone is focused on money and how to leverage social media and technology with a smaller budget. This year it was about Twitter.?
What?s in store for BizTechDay next year?
?My guess is mobile technology. It?s really hard to say. The economic, business and technology environment changes all the time and as an entrepreneur you always need to keep learning,? said Yeung.