Local startups on spotlight

Local startups on spotlight

CREAM OF THE CROP Top 100 Startups ‘SHOWQASE’ during the Sinigang Valley Conference was held on Nov. 21.

CREAM OF THE CROP Top 100 Startups ‘SHOWQASE’ during the Sinigang Valley Conference was held on Nov. 21. —QBO innovation hub

As the Philippine Startup Week (PHSW23) ended, collaboration among accelerator firms, angel groups and government agencies has become a linchpin for addressing challenges and fostering growth of the startup ecosystem.

“[Events like PHSW23] bring the community together, offering ample opportunities for learning, networking and pitching. We’re thrilled with the success,” says QBO Innovation Hub executive director Katrina Chan.


On the other hand, Manila Angel Investors Network (MAIN) executive director Quenby Go says that while partnerships in these events “create a more holistic and impactful weeklong campaign,” the country still needs to take it one step further.


“I think we need dialogue between the government sector and private sector like us, like when the government does dialogues with other businesses like in construction, telco. But I don’t think there’s one for startups yet,” Go adds.

She believes that there’s a need for such initiatives because companies like MAIN also invest in companies, adding this will be the way for the government to know the “pulse” of the industry.

Investment flows

She underscores fintech as the largest and most successful category among startups to date. Data from Foxmont’s 2023 Philippine Venture Capital Report indicate that in the 2021 to 2022 period, early-stage private funding in the Philippine startup community saw fintech leading with 39-percent funding share, closely followed by e-commerce with 23 percent. The remaining 38 percent was dispersed across various other sectors.

“There are others to look out for. There are developments in areas such as food, logistics and sustainability where noteworthy advancements are emerging,” Go shares.

Ranked second globally and first in Asia for internet usage, the report also reveals a notable increase in investments in local startups, which Go says can be attributed to the rapid adoption of digital technology.

Despite a global slowdown, the Philippines saw robust deal flow in 2022, surpassing Philippine Venture Capital projections—and by February this year, 17 investments were recorded, with the first quarter reaching 23.


“And that’s just first quarter alone … For instance, Growsari raised P110 million. It’s a digital platform that connects suppliers and distributors, so it helps our sari-sari store culture here in the Philippines by digitalization, helping them in their distribution and consolidation of products,” Go says.

MAIN currently has over 130 members, each with diverse investment backgrounds. They have reviewed around 500 startups and invested in almost 30 companies so far.

Chan says that IdeaSpace Investments (operator of QBO Innovation Hub), on the other hand, has more than 50 investments in early-stage ventures to date.

With the ongoing emergence of homegrown startups, their recognition becomes imperative for their significant social impact on local communities and the country. These enterprises inject vitality into local economies, create jobs and even introduce groundbreaking solutions to longstanding challenges. Thus, in celebration of the growing Filipino startup ecosystem, KMC Solutions, the leading provider of flexible office space solutions in the Philippines, hosted the inaugural KMC Startup Awards as part of the Philippine Startup Week. There were more than 200 submissions and 30 entries shortlisted for gold, silver and bronze awards across 10 categories.

Meet the winners

Analytics startup Packworks clinched gold for the Startup of the Year Award. It offers a business-to-business platform to help micro-entrepreneurs manage their inventories, check sales, balance their finances and more.

“Running a sari-sari store is the easiest business to start, but it’s the hardest to succeed in. We’re glad that we’re able to help them and inspire them,” cofounder Ibba Bernardo says.

Taking the silver award is online clinic Kindred, a pioneering startup focused on women’s wellness, where users can communicate with health-care professionals and enroll personalized care plans.

Tax software provider Taxumo, on the other hand, bagged the bronze, showcasing its dedication in helping thousands of freelancers, self-employed professionals, small business owners and corporations in seamlessly filing and paying their taxes through its Bureau of Internal Revenue-accredited online tax compliance tool.

Other winners include digital pet care solutions PetPal, digital banking group GoTyme Bank, human resource tech company Sprout Solutions, employment verification solution Smile API, streaming platform Eduksine, clean power and clean water provider Power 4 All, Inc., housing solutions Cubo Modular and agritech startup Sakahon.

“We believe that the KMC Startup Awards will be a cornerstone in celebrating and empowering the Filipino entrepreneurial spirit for many years to come. To all the winners and participants, your passion, creativity and resilience are not just the foundation of your success but the driving force that will continue to propel the Philippine startup community forward,” says Michael McCullough, CEO of KMC Solutions.

PHSW23 also includes the Top 100 Startups “SHOWQASE” by QBO Innovation Hub.

“Highlighting these startups is crucial. Beyond traditional perceptions, Philippine startups are making strides in artificial intelligence, health tech and fintech. It’s not just like basket weaving and dried mangos, so let’s shed light on this diversity and bring attention to the promising talents behind these innovations,” says Chan.

This year’s roster includes Bossjob, Packworks, Britana, Dehusk, Hey Roomie, Mylo Speech Buddy and Prosperna, among others.

In its fifth year, PHSW23 was hosted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Information and Communications Technology and supported by QBO Innovation Hub, Bossjob and Uniquecorn Strategies.

Republic Act No. 11337, or the Innovative Startup Act, provides benefits and programs to strengthen, promote and develop the Philippine startup ecosystem.

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“We at DOST recognize the crucial role we play in assessing, monitoring, developing, and expanding the Philippine Startup Development Program as mandated in the Innovation Startup Act,” says DOST Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr.

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