'Geeks On A Beach 4': A shot in the arm for PH startup community

"We want this bill to come from the sector itself," the senator added.

Aquino doesn't appear to be alone in the effort to lift young companies by their arms. That night, he also credited Camarines Sur Representative LRay  Villafuerte as the primary lobbyist for the bill in the House of Representatives.

Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto, speaking at the Governor's Mansion in Tagbilaran on Thursday afternoon, identified a focus on tech as the third prong in his developmental plan for the province: "Earlier it was tourism, agriculture. Later, we said technology has to come – IT."

The centerpiece of this push is the "Digital Bohol" campaign, a "dream" where "technology is readily available" the moment one lands in Bohol whether through plane or boat. Laying out the information communication technology infrastructure is currently underway, according to the governor. Further putting the region under the spotlight is the upcoming Open Collaboration of East Asian Nations (OCEAN) 16, a pro-tech, for-industrialization conference being hosted by Bohol from November 24 to 26. 

From the private sector, we have the likes of Rene Meily, CEO of QBO (pronounced "kubo") Innovation Hub, a local startup studio in Makati City. The company seeks to "transform the Philippine startup ecosystem" by mimicking successful ones in the US (Silicon Valley), Singapore (Block 71), and Malaysia (maGIC); by acknowledging the current local ecosystem's need for mentors and senior advisers; and by intervening in the "seed" phase of startups, providing support to these young companies during their just-past-infancy stage.

During his talk at GOAB, Meily also promised regular mentoring events at the QBO office for entrepreneurial minds. "We need the success stories to show that the ecosystem works," he added.

Meily may not need to look too far.

GOAB, just for the fact that it brought together players from the different sectors of the tech industry for the fourth year running, is itself a success story – a source of optimism and courage for young, local companies that could use an extra nudge.

With the proposed startup bill on the horizon, one wonders what the fifth iteration might bring. – Rappler.com

(UPDATE: The dates for OCEAN 16 have been changed to November 24 to 26 from October 21 and 22 as originally announced. You may go to ocean16.asia for more details.)


Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.