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BIZ BUZZ: ICTSI’s best ROI

/ 05:18 AM June 09, 2021

It takes a massive investment of resources to produce a world-beater.

In the case of recently crowned US Women’s Open golf champion Yuka Saso, that meant a lot of physical energy, mental strength and time and effort invested on the personal level to rise to the top of a very competitive heap.

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For her supporters in the local business community, that meant not just moral support but a lot of money. And by a lot, we’re talking about the number of zeros on a check that only a dollar billionaire can write.

It’s no secret, of course, that Saso’s biggest corporate backer is ICTSI Corp. owned by ports and gaming tycoon Enrique Razon Jr.

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Long before the 19-year-old golf prodigy began making waves in the international scene, Razon and the golf program of ICTSI had already identified the young girl as a potential champion and, as such, began investing in her.

Word in the corporate and golf grapevines is that ICTSI has been supporting the future champion all the way back since she was 12 years old, meaning it took all of just seven years to help form her into a full fledged and de facto world golfing champion.

Becoming a champion isn’t cheap, and ICTSI helped fund Saso’s training, travel and accommodation, golf apparel and clubs, caddie fees and tournament and club registrations—basically anything related to her golfing campaigns, said one insider who refused to be named (because the full details are apparently akin to a corporate secret in this part of town).

Corporate insiders were even more tight-lipped when it came to revealing just how much support ICTSI had given her over the years in terms of monetary value.

Biz Buzz wondered: “Why the secrecy? Was the amount embarrassingly low? Was it scandalously high?”

Well, we dug around and—after a couple of days of sniffing around—found that ICTSI had definitely nothing to be ashamed of in terms of the financial muscle it threw behind the golfing champion’s efforts.

According to one knowledgeable source, the monetary value of the company’s support for Saso totaled around $200,000 a year (roughly around P10 million a year), plus bonuses if she performed well in her competitions.

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Naturally, it cost less to support her in her early years but that amount rose steadily as she progressed in her career.

So, all in, we’re talking anywhere in the P60 million range, give or take a few, to support a future champion in the sport’s most important tournament.

That’s a lot of money, no doubt. But more than the money, one company insider said the priceless contribution of Razon to Saso’s rise was his sharing with her “the wisdom and strategic planning on how she would map her golfing career.”

I guess it’s fair to say that this is one Razon investment that has paid off … in spades.

—Daxim L. Lucas

Focus on health

The health technology sector is gaining ground during the COVID-19 pandemic and investors are taking notice.

Take the case of Zennya, a startup founded in 2016 that allows users to book online medical consultations, order lab tests and vaccine shots. It recently bagged a $1.2-million investment from Foxmont Capital Partners, DayOne Capital Ventures, Ignite House of Innovation and unnamed “prominent families” and angel investors from the Philippines and Thailand.

Zennya said the money would be used to expand to more urban areas, Cebu among them, hire more staff and pursue new partnerships.

Zennya said it had completed over half a million services to date, a figure that would increase as it broadens its market outside Metro Manila.

Filipinos are growing more conscious of their health during the pandemic and this bodes well for allied services.

Another emerging space is home vaccinations for COVID-19. David Foote, founder and CEO of Zennya, told Biz Buzz the company was active in corporate vaccination administration and had a “large patient base currently signed up to do so” for COVID-19.

General customers may need to wait longer. Foote said the government should come up with the necessary regulations allowing home services.

—Miguel R. Camus

‘Townees’

Cognizant of how the pandemic and the consequent lockdown protocols are affecting people’s mental health, leading local dormitory or coliving provider MyTown, which is part of the SM group, has been regularly monitoring thousands of its tenants to know how to help improve their quality of life through social support networks.

MyTown was quite happy that based on its survey conducted in April among its dormers, who are mostly young professionals, 71 percent said living in MyTown had made them less lonely over the last year, up from 64 percent in 2019 before the pandemic erupted.

Over 90 percent saw MyTown as a “home away from home,” compared to 80 percent in 2019.

Furthermore, seven out of 10 tenants believed that MyTown cultivated an environment where they could make new friends and connections despite the lockdowns.

“The pandemic seems to have accelerated urban loneliness and we see that coliving helps our tenants weather the pandemic better,” said Drixel Ortega, chief customer officer at MyTown.

The survey also showed that over 90 percent of tenants were satisfied with the COVID-19 guidelines implemented by MyTown, which were created with the help of experts at INSEAD and Oxford University, and have been shared online for the benefit of other coliving players and other interested parties.

As the World Health Organization lists “social support networks” as one of the factors that determine health and happiness, MyTown said it sought to provide such crucial social support networks through fostering a coliving community among its tenants, who are called “Townees.”

MyTown seeks to promote mental wellness while being compliant with Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Department of Health and international health and safety guidelines.

These include conducting online events, distributing informative flyers and posters, giving access to MyTown’s wide range of amenities that promote mental and physical wellness such as fitness centers, a swimming pool, coworking desks, and recreation space.

To date, MyTown operates 18 modern  coliving properties located all within walking distance from BGC and the Makati central business district.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

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TAGS: Enrique Razon Jr., ICTSI Corp.
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